Having established some priorities for investigation, there are several concepts that should be embraced as the plan is refined and implemented. They are basic to any archaeological project involving a large area with little prior study.
1. Inventory of Resources (Archaeological Sites)
Clearly it will be advantageous to know the archaeological resource base as fully as possible as plans are developed and as information is presented to the public. Archaeological "survey" is the process usually employed to document the sites that exist. This simply refers to a systematic search for sites of all ages and all types, ideally over as extensive an area as possible. Presently only 22 sites are officially recorded within the limits of the city (see Table 1). This small number is explained by a lack of formal survey rather than a low density of sites. Very likely the actual number of archaeological sites within the city limits numbers in the thousands. As it stands, then, it will be impossible to develop comprehensive plans without better knowledge of what sites exist, where they are, and which are the most important.
2. Dissemination of Information
Archaeological studies have the most positive effects when their results are publicly reported. This component of the process is arguably the most critical one. Without provisions for exhibits, publications, web sites, lectures, and even public participation in the field and lab process, archaeological investigations are usually ill-advised. This extends to stipulations for long-term care of artifacts and associated records.
A successful project will be concerned with long-term protection of the most significant archaeological resources. The goal is seldom the full excavation of the most significant sites, or the protection of all sites. Instead, judicious sampling can serve to answer most questions and insure that portions of the more important sites are preserved for future study and ongoing public interpretation. Other sites may be ultimately determined to hold little valuable information and, thus, warrant no protection. Special effort will be required to negotiate access, rights to artifacts/results, and long-term site protection with owners of private property where work is carried out under city sponsorship.
The City of Hopewell has made impressive and ambitious strides toward highlighting its remarkable history for constructive purposes. Ultimate success, we believe, will depend upon ongoing, diligent coordination between the City, the Historic Hopewell Foundation, the National Park Service, interested citizens, and other stakeholders. Town Hall meetings of the sort held recently are one vehicle for achieving this goal, as is the creation of a Historic Preservation Committee. These and other settings for exchange of ideas, coordination of long-term plans, and pooling of resources are encouraged. The extent to which sites, exhibit space, and programs can be jointly managed should be explored.