American Battlefield Protection Program
  • A portion of the battlefield landscape at Little Bighorn

    American Battlefield Protection Program


    Cultural Resources National Park Service
Battlefield Archeology
What is battlefield archeology?

Battlefield Archeology is the study of the physical evidence of a battle found on the ground, underground, or underwater.

What is a battle?

The American Battlefield Protection Program defines a battle as "armed conflict, fighting, or warfare that occurred between two opposing military organizations or forces recognized as such by their respective cultures (not civil unrest)."

Why is archeology important to the understanding of a battle?

Archeological evidence of a battle enables archeologists, historians, preservationists, and the community at large to better understand what took place on a battlefield. The study of the patterns and placement of archeological evidence is used to verify the movements of combatants, map out battle actions in time and space, place a battle in the correct location on the landscape, reveal previously unrecorded facets of a battle, or prove or disprove accepted battle reports and histories. Consequently the understanding of the battle often becomes clearer.

Why is archeology important for battlefield preservation?

Communities can be reluctant to give credence to undocumented battle sites. Battlefield archeology helps document the site of a battle and its associated features. When archeologists examine a battlefield, they document the location of what they find: human-made items, landscape features, or biological remains. This documentation helps place a battlefield on the landscape and allows a community to make informed planning and preservation decisions about the cultural landscape.

Please contact the ABPP Archeologist if you have questions regarding archeology and battlefields.