Full Circle Heritage Services

Archaeological & Historical Services

54 Santana Rd.
Vado, NM 88072

575-644-5530 (mobile/text)

Archaeological & Cultural Resources Services

Full Circle Heritage Services provides archaeological services (records searches, field survey and evaluation, monitoring, excavation, damage assessment), most often to clients who need to comply with state and federal regulations for protecting archaeological resources. We are happy to consult with anyone who has questions or concerns about understanding, managing, and protecting archaeological sites (including potentially unmarked human burials) on private or public lands.

Consult with an archaeologist in the planning stages of a project—as early as possible—to determine what must be done to comply with the laws. Records checks are easily and cheaply done and can often show what kinds of archaeological sites are in an area. This can provide an idea of whether a project location should be moved or how much archaeological work is needed to clear a project area. The major land-holding agencies (Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, State Lands Office, military bases) have staff archaeologists who handle these matters and who can provide a list of qualified archaeological service providers, if needed. Feel free to call or e-mail us for advice. Initial consultations and project estimates are free of charge.

What is Archaeology?

In the Americas, archaeology is a subfield of anthropology—the study of humanity. Anthropology’s strength comes from its holistic approach. It employs a variety of sciences and disciplines to address questions about human origins, history, and behavior. Archaeologists study the materials (artifacts) and structures (features) that people put on the landscape and how its patterning reveals past people’s relationships to the land, each other, and, sometimes, even their philosophies of life over time—from 50 to at least 12,000 years ago.

Why Do Archaeology?

Two reasons. First, archaeology is a discipline that gives insight into all of the past, the distant parts before written history, as well as the historic past. Archaeological study often highlights aspects of peoples’ heritage not covered by other historical studies. It most often involves the past of “common” folks instead of that of rulers and “elites” enshrined in historiographic texts.

Second, in many situations, an archaeological study is required by federal, state, and local laws and regulations protecting historical and archaeological resources. 


Consulting is probably the most important concept to keep in mind for efficiently complying with historic preservation laws. Consult with land-agency archaeologists and/or the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in the initial planning stages to determine whether an archaeological study is needed and at what level of intensity. Also, feel free to call or e-mail us for guidance on whether consultation is needed and with whom to consult.

Archaeological Survey

We conduct archaeological survey in accordance with federal and state guidelines by having qualified personnel systematically walk over an area to inspect the ground surface for evidence of past human activity. All finds are documented and mapped with current GPS technology, evaluated for their scientific importance, and summarized in a report submitted to the appropriate agency and SHPO.

All Services

Records Searches

The first stage of any archaeological investigation is to check what has already been done in an area. Full Circle Heritage Services has full online access to the New Mexico Cultural Resource Information System (NMCRIS). This database keeps track of all archaeological projects done in New Mexico and the nearly 200,000 sites that have been recorded to date. Many agencies keep their own records in addition to what they file with the NMCRIS database. We can also access these when it is necessary.

Tribal Consultation

Usually, consultation with federally recognized tribes is conducted by state and federal agencies on a government-to-government basis. Sometimes agencies or private organizations need a qualified liaison to discuss projects with tribal governments and members, to seek input from them about an area that may be important in their history or to their ongoing traditions.

Survey and Evaluation

We conduct archaeological surveys in accordance with federal and state guidelines by having qualified personnel systematically walk over an area to inspect the ground surface for evidence of past human activity. All finds are documented and mapped with current GPS technology, evaluated for their scientific importance, and summarized in a report submitted to the appropriate agency and SHPO.

Learn More Here


Archaeological excavation is carefully controlled digging to find out what is underground. Typically, we use two strategies: small-scale test excavation, and more intensive data-recovery excavation. Excavation often involves additional studies, such as assays to determine the ages of materials or soil studies to understand the landscape setting as it was before the site became buried.

Full Circle Heritage Services has 30 years of experience conducting archaeological excavations in the southern Southwest. Permits for excavation projects are drawn up on a case-by-case basis depending upon the land ownership and consultation with the SHPO.

Test Excavation

Test excavation is used to investigate the subsurface layers in a site or landform to determine whether buried artifacts and features are present, how deep they lie, and how well preserved they are. When survey data is insufficient or inconclusive about an area’s information potential, a testing plan is discussed with the land agency and SHPO to further evaluate it. Test excavation may involve small hand-dug pits and/or mechanically dug pits, such as backhoe trenches, to explore larger areas.

Data Recovery Excavation

Data recovery (sometimes called mitigation) is intensive digging designed to recover the maximum amount of buried material possible. If an area cannot be avoided by a construction project and when earlier stages of investigation and evaluation prove that a site has significant information, archaeologists develop a data recovery plan in consultation with the land agency and SHPO to collect as much material and information from the site as is reasonably possible before it is destroyed.


When ground-disturbing activities are planned in or near known sites, or on landscapes with the potential to hold buried sites, archaeological monitoring is a strategy sometimes recommended by an agency and/or SHPO. An archaeologist monitors the activity to ensure that known sites are avoided or to inspect disturbed areas to determine if cultural material is being uncovered. If buried material is exposed, the archaeologist documents evaluates, and reports for further consultation, so that the find can be avoided or further investigated.

Human Remains

In New Mexico, state law protects unmarked human burials whether on state-owned or private land (Cultural Properties Act 18-6-11.2). Discovery and treatment of human remains on federal lands are strictly regulated (Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA)16 USC 470 & 43 CFR 7, Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) 25 USC 3001 & 43 CFR 10, and Public Lands, Interior 43 CFR 8365.1-7).

Human remains have been found in all settings and contexts, and their presence cannot always be easily predicted based on the surroundings. Because of destruction by grave robbers and looters (and even some archaeologists) and the concerns of Native American groups, historic-era-settler descendants, and military-veteran descendants, the treatment of human remains is a very sensitive issue that must be handled with great care. Full Circle Heritage Services holds an annual permit for excavation of unmarked burials on state lands. We can provide this service when it is necessary to move remains, whether they are found accidentally during a construction project or during an archaeological excavation. Please contact us with any questions about dealing with human remains.

Damage Assessment

Deliberate as well as inadvertent destruction of cultural resources continues, and such acts can quickly rise to the level of a felony offense.  Collecting artifacts from the surface, digging with hand tools or machines, operating wheeled vehicles off designated roads, trash dumping, and graffiti, among other acts, on state and federal lands is prohibited by laws.  Prosecution of violations requires a detailed evaluation of the damaged site and assessment of the value of the information destroyed as well as, possibly, the commercial value of artifacts taken and the costs required to stabilize, repair, or restore the site.  An hour’s worth of damage to a site can easily result in tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in assessed costs.

About Us

Full Circle Heritage Services was founded in 2006 by Beth Morgan, as an oral- and family-history service provider.  After Mark completed a master’s degree at NMSU in 2008, archaeological services were added, and he has worked continuously since then.  A complete list of projects and reports is available here.

Mark Sechrist

Mark has been practicing archaeology since 1987. He specializes in the North American Southwest, particularly in southern New Mexico, western Texas, and southeastern Arizona.  He conducts research and fieldwork for agencies and the public who need to comply with federal and state historic-preservation laws, and also for anyone who wants to know what cultural remains on their land might mean.  After graduating from New Mexico State University with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, he worked for several public and private cultural resources service providers in the Las Cruces and El Paso areas.  After completing a master’s degree in 2008, he has served as a principal investigator for Full Circle Heritage Services.

Permit Numbers and Areas

  • Bureau of Land Management: permit no. 246-2920-20-E for southwestern, southeastern, and northeastern New Mexico, and southwestern Texas
  • New Mexico State Land Office: permit no. NM-23-186-S (survey), -M (monitoring), -T (test excavation); ABE-20-186 (unmarked human burial excavation) for all state trust lands in New Mexico
  • Register of Professional Archaeologists: no. 98930

Full Circle Heritage Services

54 Santana Rd. Vado, NM, 88072