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Final Report, Phases 1-3 (2002)

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Executive Summary

Mn/Model: A Predictive Model of Precontact Archaeological Site Location for the State of Minnesota

Statewide Survey Impelmentation Model Map


In 1995, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) initiated a major environmental streamlining project, Mn/Model. Mn/Model is a statewide GIS-based predictive model for pre-1837 archaeological site locations. The project was made possible by funding from the Federal Highway Administration's Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). It helps MnDOT meet the mandate of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.


Mn/Model consists of a series of high-resolution digital maps alerting planners and cultural resource managers of the presence of potential precontact archaeological resources. These maps were developed using a combination of GIS and statistical modeling procedures, which allowed for the efficient, cost-effective, and repeatable generation of scientifically testable models. Because high, medium, and low site potential assignments are based on correlations between known archaeological site locations and a number of environmental variables, the models can be improved as new archaeological and environmental data become available. Consequently, Mn/Model is dynamic.


Mn/Model, through its geomorphological paleo-landscape component, incorporates the third and fourth dimensions of time and buried Holocene landscapes/surfaces for areas with higher probabilities for buried cultural resources. This is a unique aspect of Mn/Model that has not been previously attempted by other modeling efforts on this scale.


The results of Mn/Model are incorporated into the earliest phases of project planning, making transportation planners aware of the possible locations of precontact archaeological sites. Mn/Model allows planners to prepare alternative avoidance design scenarios, when possible, and to budget for survey and mitigation costs and time when avoidance is not possible. Mn/Model also helps prepare budget and schedule estimates allotted for individual projects and longer range management activities.


This report summarizes the background of the Mn/Model project and of archaeological predictive modeling. It details the development of data, the establishment of standards, and the procedures used to develop the models. The model results, for 24 environmental regions within Minnesota, are described and illustrated. The report serves as a complete reference to the Mn/Model project as well as a guide and reference for others interested in developing their own predictive models.


The Mn/Model Final Report (Phases 1-3) is available on CD-ROM. Copies may be requested by visiting the contact page.


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MnModel was financed with Transportation Enhancement and State Planning and Research funds from the Federal Highway Administration and a Minnesota Department of Transportation match.


Copyright Notice

The MnModel process and the predictive models it produced are copyrighted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), 2000. They may not be used without MnDOT's consent.