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Definition

"The National Historic Preservation Act recognizes five property types: districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects. As called for in the act, these categories are used in the National Register of Historic Places, the preeminent reference for properties worthy of preservation in the United States. To focus attention on management requirements within these property types, the NPS Management Policies categorizes cultural resources as archeological resources, cultural landscapes, structures, museum objects, and ethnographic resources.

"Resource categories are useful because they help organize cultural resources into a manageable number of groups based on common attributes. On the other hand, categorization may obscure the interdisciplinary nature of many cultural resources. An early farmhouse, for example, may be filled with 19th-century furniture, form the centerpiece of a vernacular landscape, and occupy the site of a prehistoric burial mound. In addition to this type of overlap, cultural resources might also embrace more than one category or classification system. A stone ax can be both an archeological resource and a museum object, just as a fence may be viewed as a discrete structure, the extension of a building, and part of a landscape. Taken a step further, historic districts can be formed by various combinations of cultural landscapes, structures, and ethnographic and archeological resources."

Chapter 1: Fundamental Concepts of Cultural Resource Management, B. Types of Cultural Resources, 1. Notes on Resource Categorization, NPS-28: Cultural Resource Management Guideline, National Park Service

The dual nature of cultural resources, an inseparable union of social and physical qualities, leads directly to the three central issues of their management: first, to discover the significance or meaning of each resource; second, to slow the rate at which their essential material qualities are lost; and third, to support the use and enjoyment of cultural resources while minimizing negative effects on them. These imperatives are at the heart of the cultural resource program. Their corresponding activities are emphasized differently for each resource type and labeled differently from discipline to discipline. But we can discuss the sum of all these activities in terms of three broad functions: research, planning, and stewardship.

Chapter 1: Fundamental Concepts of Cultural Resource Management, D. Essentials of a Comprehensive Program
1. Objectives of Cultural Resource Management, NPS-28: Cultural Resource Management Guideline, National Park Service

Standards

NPS-28: Cultural Resource Management Guideline, National Park Service

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