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Past Programs

2017

August 10

Kofi Nutor

Trajectories in Ghanaian Archeology

July 13

Members' Program

2017 Texas Archeological Society Field School Investigations at the Mission San Lorenzo de la Cruz, Real County, Texas

June 8

No meeting -- Texas Archeological Society Field School

May 11

Kay Hindes

Recent Archaeological Investigations at the Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo)

April 13

Mary S. Black and Margie Crisp

The Nueces River and the Western Texas Hill Country

Authors Mary Black and Margie Crisp discuss their new books with an eye to the natural and cultural/historical attractions TvCAS members can visit in conjunction with the upcoming Texas Archeological Society Field School at Camp Wood. Mary is the author of From the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to the Western Hill Country and Lower Pecos Canyonlands. Margie Crisp wrote The Nueces River: Rio Escondido, with illustrations by William B. Montgomery. Both books are published by Texas A&M University Press.
   

March 9

Jim Tiller

Have Those Looking for Santisima Trinidad de Salcedo Taken a Wrong Turn?    

What if, as it approached the Trinity River from the west, the Old Spanish Road (OSR) maintained its trajectory to the southeast, passed through the community of Midway and crossed the river, not at Robbins Crossing or even along the large eastern bend of the river just downstream, but between Negro Creek and the Eastham Reservoir? Such might change the area of interest for those searching for Salcedo, but is there any basis in the record for such thinking? In this presentation, period evidence will be presented and comments offered suggesting that perhaps those searching for Salcedo/Trinidad might take a look at the northeast-southwest trending ridge upon which the Eastham Prison Farm facilities are located. Maps, citations and text of speculative comments provided as handouts.

February 9

Gary Pinkerton

Trammel’s Trace: The First Road to Texas from the North

Trammel’s Trace was the second major route into Spanish Texas from the United States and the first route from the northern boundaries along the Red River. In the early 1800’s Trammel’s Trace was a smugglers’ trail, but later became a path for immigration to Texas. It was an historic corridor connecting travelers from Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas with the El Camino Real at Nacogdoches.Trammel’s Trace ran to Nacogdoches from two points on the Red River - Fulton, Arkansas and the early Pecan Point/Jonesboro settlements to the northwest of Clarksville, Texas. In Nacogdoches, it connected with the El Camino Real, also called the Old San Antonio Road, running east and west. Its history from the early 1800’s through Texas’ statehood is the history of migration, lawlessness, and conflict that defined that period. It is those stories about the land through which it passed and the people who traveled it which I hope to convey. 

The road’s namesake, a Tennessean named Nicholas Trammell (1780-1856), is the subject of much myth and legend. Though Spanish and Mexican authorities attempted to control trade in the region, smugglers found a way around the patrols. Nicholas Trammell was such a key part of much of the trade and early migration that a series of old trails linked together by his frequent travel were named after him in the early 1800’s. While the later stories of Trammell as a murderous outlaw are not supported by evidence, his life of smuggling and racing horses, operating taverns, gaming operations, and other opportunistic business dealings placed him on the fringes of frontier culture. Remains of Trammel's Trace can be found in Bowie, Cass, Marion, Harrison, Rusk, Panola, and Nacogdoches counties in East Texas. It extended into Little River, Miller, and Hempstead County, Arkansas but the terrain there is not conducive to preservation of road ruts. The Great Bend of the Red River at Fulton, Arkansas is where Trammel's Trace connected with the Southwest Trail across Arkansas.

January 12 

Douglas K. Boyd

Numismatic Archeology - What is a Coin Really Worth?

Part 1: The Real Value of a 1853 Dollar: A Foundation Rite from the Levi Jordan Plantation House, Brazoria County, Texas
The Levi Jordan plantation house in Brazoria County, Texas, is a two-story, antebellum house made of cut lumber on a pier-and-beam foundation. It is currently a state historical park run by the Texas Historical Commission. The house underwent a full structural restoration between 2010 and 2012. It was raised above ground on steel beams and cribs to allow for replacement of the fireplace and wall foundations. Prewitt and Associates, Inc. archeologists investigated the original brick chimney bases and all of the original brick and wood piers under the big house. An 1853 US one-dollar gold coin was found between the bottom layers of brick in one of the corner pier pads. It was probably a date coin placed during a foundation-laying ritual conducted by a Freemason, and it dates the beginning of house construction to 1853.

Part 2: Interpreting Coins in Archeological Contexts
This will be a summary of the wide range of contexts in which coins are found in archeological contexts, and how the meanings of these coins have been interpreted. This discussion will include a summary of information that was presented at the "Numismatic Archeology" symposium at the recent Society for Historical Archaeology meeting in Fort Worth (Jan. 2017).


2016

November 10 

 Ken Headrick and May Schmidt 

Depression Era Southwestern Indian Necklaces

May and Ken showed examples of Depression-era necklaces purchased in New Mexico and Colorado in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Individual pieces are backed with a black bakelite-like material and set with turquoise, other stones, and pieces of plastic combs (e.g., pieces representing tail feathers). Three sources in different states have shared with Ken that the backing came from old 78 rpm records that were salvaged from a train wreck in the region. The material in the necklaces is consistent with such an origin. The necklaces were purchased for about $25 and are now worth approximately eight times that amount.


Eric Schroeder

On the Trail of the People of the Cows: Transient Camps and Hypothesized Ceremonial Rendezvous of Late Prehistoric Mobile Populations of Southwestern Texas

Early Spanish expedition journals document vast areas of the Trans Pecos as being almost devoid of people during the late summer and early fall bison hunting season. Archeological evidence suggests that the inhabitants traversed ancient transportation corridors to ceremonial rendezvous located along the western edge of the Edwards Plateau where it’s possible that they engaged in ceremonial feasting and produced stone tools centered around bison hunting and hide processing. From these rendezvous sites they likely moved as communal groups into areas like the upper Concho River Valley in west-central Texas., where it is hypothesized that such behavior may have been driven by a regional hide economy. Such a pattern is generally considered to indicate emergent social complexity within a society traditionally characterized as generalized foragers.


October 13

Andrea Stahman Burden

        The El Camino Real in Eagle Ford Shale Country

This presentation is designed to highlight the Trail, its designation as a National Historic Trail and what that means, to discuss the potential effects of energy infrastructure development in the Eagle Ford Shale area of Texas on a significant portion of the trail, and give a heads up on how typical contract archeology can help preserve the trail by documenting it during survey-level investigations.


September 8

    Jeff Durst

        Excavations at San Felipe 2014-1016

Excavations at the site of San Felipe de Austin began in June of 2014 as part of the annual Texas Archeological Society Field School and continued on in the 2015 and 2016 TAS Field Schools.  The excavations which took place at the Texas Historical Commission’s San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, focused on the historic “town lot” 566 where the Farmer’s Hotel was reportedly constructed between 1829 and1830. While  till under construction the building served as the town hall described by San Felipe resident Noah Smithwick in his memoirs.  The structure was described as being 32 feet square with a brick cellar 6 feet deep. The first season focused on attempting to locate the four corners of the brick cellar and getting an idea of the construction method of the brick outer wall of the cellar.  The second season continued the attempt to define the four corners of the cellar and also included a centrally located unit aimed at identifying the floor of the cellar. A third session was held in November of 2015 in order to take at least a few of the previously open units all the way to the floor of the basement.  Returning in 2016 excavations focused on two other features known to have been located on this same lot. The four seasons produced an interesting array of artifacts and features which will be discussed during this presentation.


August 11

    Margaret Howard

        Archeology After Wildfires

This talk reviews the surveys that Texas Parks & Wildlife archeologists conducted in Bastrop and Buescher State Parks after the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire and the 2015 Hidden Pines Fire. Those severe wildfires were followed by heavy rains, resulting in unusual opportunities and challenges for site identification.


July 14

    Field School Round-Up

        The 2016 Texas Archeological Society Field School at the Tait Ranch, Tait House, and San Felipe de Austin


May 12

    Amanda Castañeda

        The Hole Story: Understanding Bedrock Features in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands

Ground stone bedrock features are common at archaeological sites in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of southwest Texas. These features are human-made holes pecked, ground, or worn into bedrock or large boulders, and were used for a variety of processing activities by the indigenous peoples. Although archaeologists in the region have informally recognized different "types" of ground stone bedrock features (e.g., slicks, grinding facets, deep mortars), there have been no dedicated studies. Due to their widespread occurrence in the region, bedrock features represent an untapped research avenue regarding the lifeways of Lower Pecos hunter-gatherers. This presentation highlights my thesis research analyzing over 800 bedrock features at ten sites in the Lower Pecos. I used Structure from Motion 3D modeling and GIS software to collect metric data on the bedrock features and my analysis showed there are distinctive morphological variations. Hypotheses regarding potential function are put forth using the morphological types, use-wear patterns, and ethnographic information. This project provides a baseline dataset for future studies, creates a preliminary bedrock feature typology, establishes viable methodological protocols, and contributes to our overall understanding of the roles that bedrock features played in Lower Pecos lifeways.


April 14

    Ron Ralph

        Plans and Prospects for the 2016 Texas Archeological Society Field School, Columbus, Texas


March 10

    Douglas K. Boyd

        Beer Bottles and Burned Trash: History and Archeology of the 19th-Century German-American Frost Town Community in Houston, Texas

On behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation, Prewitt and Associates, Inc. is conducting archival research and archeological investigations at the site of the Frost Town community, located along Buffalo Bayou near Allen's Landing. The Frost Town site (41HR982) is only few blocks north of the Astro’s baseball park in downtown Houston. Now open area called James Bute Park, it was a thriving community for more than 120 years. German immigrants initially settled there in the 1830s, and it was a well-defined German-American neighborhood for many decades. Like many urban neighborhoods across America, Frost Town went through significant socioeconomic and ethnic changes as the surrounding area became industrialized. It began transitioning to mixed race community in the 1870s as African American freedmen moved in to get affordable housing with jobs nearby. After the Mexican Revolution in 1910, the neighborhood quickly transitioned into a Hispanic community and became known as the Barrio del Alarcan. Finally, the construction of the Elysian Viaduct roadway in the 1950s signaled the demise of the community. The replacement of the Elysian Viaduct roadway is bringing Frost Town to life again. Archeologically, subsurface testing in 2004 and 2014–2015 has revealed extensive intact deposits and some exciting finds as the project prepares to move into the data recovery phase.


February 11

    Lauren Bussiere

        The Harrell Site: Revisiting WPA Archeology in the 21st Century

The Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin received a grant to rehabilitate one of TARL's major Works Progress Administration/Work Projects Administration-era collections. The Harrell site collection from 41YN1, part of the WPA project at Possum Kingdom Reservoir in north Texas, is the type site for the Henrietta Focus. Lauren shared her work on the Harrell site collection, including the project's implications for future preservation efforts and new insights on this important site uncovered by TARL's rehab work. 


January 14

    Clint McKenzie

        Recent Excavations on the Plaza de Armas, San Antonio, the Second Site of the Presidio de Bexar

UTSACAR performed excavations on the west side of Plaza de Armas in 2012-2015. This work documented the presence of intact, buried Spanish colonial deposits ranging in age from 1724 through 1821 as well as evidence of late 19th century use of the subject properties. Presentation will focus on the excavations, artifacts, and their interpretations. San Antonio will celebrating its Tercentenary in 2018 and the research connected with these excavations provides support to that undertaking. 


2015

November 12

    S. Alan Skinner

        Archeology in Southeastern New Mexico, a Hundred Years Ago and Almost 10,000 Years Ago

An unrecorded piece of turn of the century history near Carlsbad was documented by the discovery of a stockpiled collection of irrigation sluice gates built in the late 1800s. Almost 10,000 years earlier, Midland hunters were camping at the site of Winkler-1 near Kermit, TX and left behind Midland point bases. A variety of other chipped stone tools and burned bison bones were also found in a fossil dune. The bones were radiocarbon dated to about 9,700 years ago. This site sheds light on post-Folsom occupation in the Southern High Plains.


October 8

    D. Clark Wernecke

        The Myth of Clovis First: the Peopling of the Americas

Since a Spanish priest proposed in the 16th century that primitive peoples walked to the New World, we have honed and tweaked a hypothesis of the Peopling of the New World that has never made much sense and has very little evidence. Dr. Wernecke will take you through that old hypothesis step-by-step and then present recent evidence and new hypotheses for this process. Last, he will present evidence from the GSAR excavation of one of the largest Paleoindian sites excavated in the Americas - the Gault Site in Central Texas.


September 10

    Dan Prikryl

        Recent Cultural Resource Surveys at LCRA's Highland Lake Properties, Burnet, Llano, and Travis Counties, Texas

The Lower Colorado River Authority's (LCRA) six Highland Lakes extend for a length of 60 miles along the Colorado River from the City of Austin upstream northwestward to the Llano-San Saba county line. The recent drought has provided opportunities for LCRA archeologists to record and research numerous archeological sites exposed on the shorelines of Lakes Buchanan and Travis as the lake levels declined. Over the last 20 years, LCRA archeologists have also surveyed portions of LCRA's 10,000 acres of parks and preserves located on higher ground adjacent to these lakes.

In total, 560 cultural resource sites have been recorded on lands owned by LCRA on its Highland Lake system. The purpose of the presentation is to summarize the survey work and describe some of the highlights of the investigations on the Highland Lakes with particular attention given to the shoreline survey work at Lake Buchanan and work in the parks and preserves on Lake Travis.


August 13

    Kenneth M. Brown

        Wooden Artifacts from the Lake Amistad Area

Many of the dry shelters in the Lower Pecos contained (before they were savaged by artifact collectors) substantial numbers of perishable artifacts. Enthralled by the sandals, basketry, mat fragments, and bits of cordage recovered, archeologists have mostly overlooked and ignored the wooden artifacts that were also recovered. Although the Lower Pecos landscape is largely treeless except in draws and canyons, most of the tools used in prehistory were made of wood or had substantial wooden components. Debitage in the form of tiny wood shavings -- recovered in the thousands by flotation of matrix samples -- attests to manufacture of wooden tools in sheltered base camps, using nothing more elaborate than a sharp flake.

Six collections of wooden artifacts resulting from uncontrolled collecting in dry shelters near Lake Amistad (Texas-Mexico) form the nucleus of this study. Scissors snares, digging sticks, pointed sticks (possible deadfall triggers?), foreshafts and mainshaft fragments (for both arrows and darts), wedges, fire drill hearths, a rabbit stick fragment, a musical rasp, a miniature pack frame, and a variety of other items are included. These represent extractive tools, maintenance tools, manufacturing tools and waste, and possible sociotechnic or ideotechnic artifacts, and children's tools as well as adults' tools are present.

In addition to the six private collections, several wooden artifacts from beyond the Lake Amistad area have been examined [from a cave near Junction, from Coontail Spin, Conejo Shelter, Baker Cave, the Langtry C site, and Williams (?) Cave] for comparative purposes. Most of these come from the TARL collections. This is, as far as I know, the first microscopic use wear study of wooden artifacts in North America (a similar study from Argentina was published this year), and it illustrates the enduring value of re-examining old collections (whether academically or privately held) from a fresh perspective.


July 9

    Jeff Durst

        Excavations at San Felipe de Austin, 2014-2015

Excavations at the site of San Felipe de Austin began in June of 2014 as part of the annual Texas Archeological Society Field School and continued on in June of 2015. The excavations which took place at the Texas Historical Commission's San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, focused on the historic "town lot" 566 where the Farmer's Hotel was reportedly constructed between 1829 and 1830. While still under construction, the building served as the town hall described by San Felipe resident Noah Smithwick in his memoirs. The structure was described as being 32 feet square with a brick cellar 6 feet deep. The first season focused on attempting to locate the four corners of the brick cellar and getting an idea of the construction method of the brick outer wall of the cellar. The second season continued the attempt to define the four corners of the cellar and also included a centrally located unit aimed at identifying the floor of the cellar. The two seasons produced an interesting array of artifacts and features which will be discussed during this presentation.


June 11

    No meeting - TAS Field School


May 14

    Carol Macaulay-Jameson

        An Overview of Baylor University's Three Field Seasons at Barnhill Rockshelter #3 (41CV1646) in Coryell County, Texas

Since 2011, the Baylor Archaeological Field School has been held at Barnhill Rockshelter #3, one of six rockshelters recorded on the Barnhill Ranch, located in northeastern Coryell County. Excavations have focused primarily on the upper deposits, which have produced projectile points dating to the Late Prehistoric period. To date, we have encountered 18 features, lithic debitage in the tens-of-thousands, bone and Rabdotus snail shells, over 200 complete and broken stone tools, and a bone fish hook. Despite the rich assemblage, the most exciting evidence of Late-Prehistoric life comes from the charred macrobotanical remains recovered through flotation. This presentation will provide an overview of our work as well as what we have learned from a number of analyses we have conducted at the site. 


April 9

    Dub Cook

        The East Fork Late Prehistoric - Pueblo Connection

To date, 86 artifacts of probable Puebloan origin have been recovered from four Late Prehistoric period sites along the East Fork of the Trinity River and its tributaries. The artifacts include 28 ceramic sherds, 11 arrow points of obsidian and fine-grained chalcedony, 10 other lithic tools including four of obsidian, 33 beads and pendants (26 shell, 4 turquoise, 3 other stone), and 4 pieces of raw bead material (turquoise, red coral). Ages of the ceramics cluster around two periods: ca. A.D. 900-1150 and ca. A.D. 1300-1550+. These periods closely correspond to peak periods of occupation along the East Fork.

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis of the obsidian artifacts shows the majority originate from north central New Mexico from the general Jemez caldera area (El Rechuelos, Cerro del Medio, Valles Rhyolite). However, five of the obsidian arrow points originate from sources in eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho. XRF analysis of the turquoise suggests an origin in the Los Cerrillos area near Santa Fe.

The relatively large number of Puebloan artifacts from the East Fork of the Trinity suggests a prolonged period of exchange. Bois d'arc, believed to have been present along the East Fork in prehistoric times, is thought to be integral to this exchange. 


March 12

    Nick Morgan

        Visit to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, New Mexico

The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site is one of the few locations in the Southwest set aside solely because of its rock art. It is also one of the few sites giving visitors such direct access to petroglyphs. The number and concentration of petroglyphs here make it one of the largest and most interesting petroglyphs sites in the Southwest. More than 21,000 glyphs of birds, humans, animals, fish, insects and plants, as well as numerous geometric and abstract designs, are scattered over 50 acres of New Mexico's northern Chihuahuan Desert. The petroglyphs at Three Rivers, dating back to between about 900 and 1400 AD, were created by Jornada Mogollon people who used stone tools to remove the dark patina on the exterior of the rock. A small pueblo ruin is nearby and Sierra Blanca towers above to the east. 


February 12

    Chris Lintz and Dan Prikryl

        A Steatite Vessel Rim Sherd from 41SS178, San Saba, Texas: Consideration of Posible Late Prehistoric Connections between the Northwestern Plains and Southern Plains

Dr. Lintz explores the evidence for long distance Plains trade based on the recovery of a steatite/soapstone (stone) bowl rim sherd found by Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) archeologists at a city park in San Saba. Connections between Texas and the NW Plains are indicated by examining the density and distribution of NW Plains obsidian found in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Some new obsidian data from sites in Oklahoma strengthen the connections. 


January 8

    Craig Mayer

        Neanderthal Intelligence and the Mousterian Tradition: Middle Stone Age Tools and Neanderthal Survival

This presentation will focus on Neanderthal tool development and the keen intelligence needed to create such sophisticated tools, with particular emphasis on the Mousterian Tradition and the Levallois technique. He will also touch on the highly influential French archaeologist, Francois Bordes, and his Paleolithic tool typology. The talk will compare Mousterian flake tools with Aurignacian blade tools (a tradition used by fully modern forms of people, i.e., Homo sapiens) and will review the climatic conditions in which Neanderthals lived and their adaptations to varying climatic conditions and environments over several hundred thousand years. 


2014

November 13

    Mary S. Black

        Discovering Deer Tail

Mary S. Black spoke about writing prehistoric fiction and her new book PEYOTE FIRE - SHAMAN OF THE CANYONS, set in the Archaic Lower Pecos. She will discuss her process of going from wonder to published work. She will explain how she used archeological, anthropological, and rock art research as the basis for a novel that reveals the lives and adventures of people along the Rio Grande 4,000 years ago.


October 9

    Susan W. Dial

        The Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead Site: Bringing African American History to Life for Students and Teachers on Texas Beyond History

Findings from this freedmen's farmstead in Travis County presented a rare opportunity for Texas Beyond History to engage K-12 students in learning about a segment of Texas history that typically receives only scant attention in textbooks: post-Civil War Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era. We have learned from teachers that this is a difficult subject to teach, and they have repeatedly asked for material on this subject. Through a variety of colorful student interactives and standards-based lesson plans, we provide a window into the lives of the Williams family and their experiences in the years after slavery based on what has been learned through archeology and archival research. We believe these richly illustrated resources will offer a very personal view of one family's experience, as proxy for thousands of other African Americans whose stories will never be told.


September 11

    Clint McKenzie

        An Overview of the Last Four Decades of Archaeology in the Olmos Basin and Upper San Antonio River Basin and a Discussion of Recent Discoveries in Brackenridge Park 

Clint McKenzie is enrolled in the PhD Program at UT-San Antonio and is also on the staff of the Center for Archaeological Research there. A lifelong resident of San Antonio, he has been involved with archeology since 1978 when he joined the Southern Texas Archaeological Association and the Texas Archeological Society. He served as Chair of STAA from 2005 to 2007. He has been a member of the Texas Historical Commission's Texas Archeological Stewardship Network since 2006. His research interests are in the Proto-historic and Colonial Period of Texas, as well as in Public Archeology/History. He recently retired from the City of San Antonio after a twenty-year career that included directing archeological compliance with the Texas Antiquities Code and Section 106 from 1994 to 2000


August 14

    Craig Mayer

        The Cathars and the Rise of the Kingdom of France

Whenever people think about some "typically" High Middle Ages phenomenon like "courtly love", "jousting", "minstrels" and "the Knights Templar", they all stemmed from the culture the Cathars had established over several hundred years in that part of Europe. Because of their beliefs in Christian dualism (a variant of Christianity that believed - among other things - that the forces of good and evil are constantly combating one another in this world) and because the Papacy in Rome viewed them as both a threat to the Roman Catholic flavor of Christianity and, thus, as heretics - but didn't have an army to send to try to crush them into submission (the Cathars were very wealthy and powerful and their territory was dotted with fortresses, walled towns, and castles), the Pope made a compact with the King of France (who, at that time, only controlled the northern part of what is modern France and who also happened to owe the Papacy a considerable sum of money), that in return for the use of the might of the French army, the Pope would declare a holy crusade against the Cathars to wipe them out, grant indulgences for anyone participating in the crusade, and would split the spoils of war and the vast wealth of the Cathars (and Knights Templar) with the French King. 


July 10

    Members' Slide Show and Home Movie Night

        The 2014 Texas Archeological Society Field School at the Tait Ranch, Tait House, and San Felipe de Austin


June 12

    No meeting; Texas Archeological Society Field School


May 8

    Eric Oksanen

        The Gatlin Site (41KR621) in Kerrville: Prehistoric Living Revisited

The Gatlin Site spans more than 6,000 years of human activity. Who did what, when, how, and why? Sifting through the enormous assemblage of artifacts and features, we examine how the site was used and changed through time and critique the decisions made in the analyses. 


April 10

    Jason Barrett

        The 2014 TAS Field School: Investigations into Colorado County's History and Prehistory on the Tait-Huffmeyer Ranch

The presentation will discuss the archaeology of Colorado County and the setting of this year's TAS Field School, the 700-acre Tait-Huffmeyer Ranch. Beginning in March and continuing over the course of several weekends, members of the Texas, Brazosport, Houston, and Fort Bend Archeological Societies have been conducting preliminary investigations at the ranch in preparation for Field School. The broad area excavations planned for this summer will explore one of the only deeply buried prehistoric sites identified in Colorado County, as well as another site featuring an uninterrupted distribution of artifacts that continues for over 250 meters! We will also be excavating two of the county's earliest home sites, including the setting of this year's children's excavations, the Tait family home that dates to 1856.


March 13

    Doug Boyd

        The Destruction of Mission San Sabá: Perspectives on the 1760's Painting as a Political, Social, and Historical Document

In May 1757, Franciscan missionaries established Mission San Sabá in the Northern Frontier with great hopes of converting the nomadic Apache Indians. Eleven months later, a large group of hostile Norteños (northern Indians) attacked and destroyed the mission while the small company of presidial soldiers watched helplessly. The mounted war party was well armed with French weapons, and the event shocked the Spaniards in the New World. Following this traumatic conflict, the wealthy founder of the San Sabá mission effort commissioned a painting to commemorate the event and memorialize the two martyred priests, one of whom was his cousin. Created in the early 1760s, the Destruction of Mission San Sabá is a large oil painting that accurately depicts the events of the March 16, 1758 attack as told by survivors in Spanish documents. The painting is a classic example of the eighteenth-century "continuous narrative" genre and depicts many details (e.g., landscape, mission compound layout, construction of the wooden stockade and buildings) of particular interest for interpreting the archeological remains. The painting also contains significant elements never mentioned in any of the eyewitness accounts, such as the use of leather horse armor by the attacking Indians. Furthermore, the painting goes far beyond a simple accounting of events. It is a snapshot of mid-eighteenth-century Spanish society, displaying political rhetoric, class structure, and social identities. Specific imagery was used to emphasize the racial superiority of the Spaniards and the barbaric acts of the attacking Indians, highlight the French involvement in the affair, and to implicate two groups, the Comanche and Tejas (in this case Wichita), as the guilty parties.


February 13

    Myles Miller

        Recent Discoveries and Insights into Prehistoric Ritual and Belief in the Jornada Region of Trans-Pecos Texas

During the past five years, archaeological and iconographic studies have revealed a rich record of prehistoric ritual and belief in the Jornada region of west Texas and southern New Mexico. Evidence of ritual behavior has been found in pueblo villages, in icons painted on rock art panels and ceramic vessels, in the construction of shrines, and even burned rock middens. Studies of Jornada-style rock art have provided insights into complex belief systems involving animated, sacred landscapes. Analysis of crystals, minerals, fossils, and pigments in ritual deposits in pueblo rooms has identified links with mountains and caves. Together, these studies have explored Jornada cosmology as revealed through ritual landscapes of the region, including natural and cultural features as shrines, caves, and rockshelters. Caves and mountains have several interrelated metaphorical and symbolic meanings, including fertility, access to the underworld, and places of emergence of spirits and water, lighting, clouds, and rain. This presentation will review these archaeological discoveries and insights. At the end, we will explore a fundamental question of ritual performance and religious expression: Does the fluorescence, elaboration, density, and spread of religious symbols and sacred spaces in private and public social domains arise from internal or external causes? And how were these phenomena related to increasing social complexity?


January 9

    Robin Matthews with assistance from Ann Matthews

        Hunting Up Sites and Gathering Pictures on a Rock Art Reconnaissance

Both Matthews are retired teachers: Ann taught elementary special education and kindergarten, and Robin taught high school world geography, anthropology, and economics. Robin is the Texas Archeological Society Education Committee Chairman, an officer in TvCAS (currently Secretary, and has been Treasurer), and served on the SHUMLA Board of Directors for two years. In addition to their being members of TvCAS and TAS, Ann and Robin are members of ARARA (American Rock Art Research Association), the Rock Art Foundation, the Hill Country Archeological Association, and the Llano Uplift Archeological Society. They have recorded rock art with Teddy Stickney, Wendy Lockwood, and Gladys Swanson of the TAS Rock Art Task Force and with Reeda Peel-Fleming from the Center for Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross State University. Their talk features pictures taken while traveling to rock art sites in Utah during 2013.


2013

November 14

    Steve Black

        Eagle Nest Canyon Archaeology

Dr. Black studies the pre-Columbian peoples of North America, especially those of Texas and the greater south-central section of the continent. He is also interested in archeological method and theory, the relationship between the two (research design), and public archaeology. His academic training has been here in Texas (BA UT-Austin, MA UT-San Antonio) and at Harvard University (Ph.D.). He has done field work in Texas, New Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Ecuador. Half of his career has been spent doing cultural resource management (CRM) archaeology, the prime source of research funding and employment for American archaeologists. Among the research topics that fascinate him are hunter-gatherer lifeways, cultural ecology, technology, social interaction, and experimental archaeology. He is the founding editor ofTexas Beyond History, the virtual museum of Texas' cultural heritage. 


October 10

    Paul Waller

        Natural Dyes and Dyeing with a Bow to Archaeology

A nurse by academic preparation, an outdoor enthusiast by inclination, and a fiber artist by avocation, Dr. Paul Waller shared his developing expertise in dyeing with natural materials, presenting "Natural Dyes and Dyeing with a Bow to Archaeology." He has dabbled in fiber arts (knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting, spinning, weaving, and most recently dyeing) for nearly 50 years. A member of the Native Plant Society of Texas, he blends his love and appreciation of nature and the outdoors with the distinctly human fiber arts. Having collected a variety of natural materials and used them in dyeing fibers, he will share some of his learnings, successes, and failures, along with examples of the exciting results available from use of natural materials. Paul explored with us some of the possibilities, techniques, and inquisitiveness that may have guided our human ancestors in their own fiber 'arts' pursuits. 


September 12

       Ken Brown

        What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Ken writes . . . .

As the title indicates, this talk is more of a travelogue than a research report. Every year that my colleague Steve Black holds a Texas State University field school in the Lower Pecos, I go down for a visit, spend a day in the field with the crew, and then traumatize the students with an evening lecture. This year, Steve worked at two sites in Mile Canyon (or Eagle Nest Canyon) on the Skiles Ranch, at Langtry. These are two medium-sized shelters, Kelley Cave and Skiles Shelter, fairly close together in the lower part of the canyon. After that, I continued westward to Alpine and then south to the O2 Ranch (about 40 miles south of Alpine in Brewster County), where the Center for Big Bend Studies is excavating the Genevieve Lykes Duncan site (41BS2615), a Paleoindian site with some of the earliest firecracked rock features known in North America. Buried in a paleosol, assays on charcoal in this early component range from about 8200-9500 radiocarbon years before present (uncalibrated), but scattered charcoal below this component dates to 10,730 RCYBP. Aided by Sam Cason, I spent my Fourth of July holiday hacking snail dirt out of a 2.8 meter high sample column next to the excavation block. We'll see some snapshots of all of this activity. 


August 8

    Members' Slide Show

        2013 Texas Archeological Society Field School at Eagle Bluff and 38 1/2 (?) Sometimes Annual, Official Bodacious Prewitt Conference at Krause Springs


July 11

    Kevin Hanselka

        Ethnoarchaeological Interpretations of Prehistoric Food Production in Tamaulipas, Mexico

One means to interpret the archaeological record is through ethnoarchaeology, or the study of living peoples who make and utilize materials and otherwise conduct behaviors that are ultimately archaeologically observable. Sometimes this involves some informal (often unforeseen) observation by the archaeologist in the field that is subsequently used to interpret past human behavior. This presentation describes unexpected observations of traditional farmers in southern Tamaulipas, Mexico that have influenced understanding of prehistoric subsistence strategies in this region known for early low-level food production. A primary goal of the original fieldwork was to grasp site distributions across the landscape and how topographic locations of various site types may be informative of prehistoric farming practices. Observations of present-day farming practices and informal questioning of local residents produced valuable insights into local farming ecology and the potential of this landscape for cultivation. These observations have implications for prehistoric human economies in the region, as local environmental conditions set parameters that limit or enhance cultivation success, and present-day subsistence farmers are very familiar with such constraints.


May 9

    Christopher Ringstaff

        Applied Experimental Archeology in the Identification, Analysis, and Interpretation of Lithic Reduction Features from South Texas

The use of experimental archeology can yield considerable analytical and interpretive insight into archeological assemblages. The presentation is preceded by a cursory examination and analysis of recent replication work conducted for a prior presentation on lithic technology given at the TCAS. The concepts introduced will be applied to one of the less common and subtle feature types identified within the South Texas archeological setting; the lithic reduction feature. These features consist of spatially discrete clusters of debitage resultant from in-situ production loci or secondary disposal locations and are found in surface and subsurface contexts. The heterogeneous nature of raw material sources in the region allow for high resolution analysis in which individual tool reduction episodes can be identified and characterized technologically. The results of these analyses could be used to address research questions including technological organization, mobility, and raw material economy. This presentation provides an overview of this feature type, describes site specific examples and addresses integrity issues, analytical approaches, and interpretations.


April 11

    Christopher Lintz and Joe Rogers

        The Jack Allen Site: A 2013 Status Report on a Picket-Post House Site in the Texas Panhandle

The Antelope Creek Phase (AD 1200-1500) residential houses in the Texas panhandle are traditionally rectangular room dwellings with vertical slab masonry wall foundations, central depressed floor channels and altar features along the west walls. Forty years ago the West Texas State Anthropological Society excavated the Jack Allen Site under the direction of the late Jack Hughes. This structure differed in the use of picket post walls instead of masonry foundations, but most other attributes resembled those of the Antelope Creek phase. The intense burning of the building and systematic collection and curation of baked daub provides new insights into prehistoric architecture of the high plains and the first documented case for the prehistoric house super structure. The Allen Site dwelling also resembles a house form that has been ascribed to four other southern Plains Late Prehistoric "cultures." This talk illuminates the on-going work at the Jack Allen site and some artifacts and explores the implications of this house form to the spatial and temporal diversity of prehistoric houses occurring on the southern Plains. The site has tremendous implications for how archaeologists define and name prehistoric cultures on the Southern Plains. 


March 14

    Eric Schroeder

        Thoughts on the Jumano Homeland

Eric is researching the ethnohistory of Native Americans as presented in the colonial European documents of both Spain and France, tracing the peoples and the movement of goods across the protohistoric landscape of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. What he will present is not really a talk per se, but a slideshow of his recent field trips to his study area, while discussing what he has come to understand about his dissertation research problem. This involves asking such esoteric questions as: Why do people tend to place their trust in political, economic, and religious institutions? Why do some members of a society cooperate while others resist? What factors determine which societies engage in trade and diplomacy, while others choose to go to war? Questions such as these go way beyond the scope of the cultural-historical approach or ecological explanations, and require us to think a little more anthropologically on how material culture is contextualized and ultimately interpreted. 


February 14

    Ron Ralph

        Once More Into the Breach: Texas Archeological Society Surveys in the Hondo Area

This June 15 - 22, the Texas Archeological Society Field School will again be held in northern Medina County between Hondo on Highway 90 and Tarpley. The hill country setting is about 50 miles west-northwest of San Antonio. Primary investigations will continue at the Calvert/Eagle Bluff site, 41ME147; historic investigations are also planned, as is survey work. Camping will be under live oaks at the Medina County Fairground and Hondo City Park; meals and evening gatherings will be at the City Park Pavilion. A later date for Field School this year means that TAS isn't competing for the Pavilion with the usual family reunions. Ron will once again be directing Field School survey activities in the area. The talk will cover the survey work he led in 2010 on the Calvert property and the 2011 survey on the Larry Oefinger Ranch on Hondo Creek between Hondo and the Calvert/Eagle Bluff site. 


January 10

    Jennifer Anderson

        The Angostura Anomaly: A Comprehensive Examination of this Unique Point Type

In Texas, Angostura projectile points are numerous and highly variable. Interestingly, they are most commonly recovered as small basal fragments (less than 2 cm in length) exhibiting bend breaks. When complete, or nearly complete, Angostura points often show signs of being heavily reworked and reused. If the practice of repairing and reusing Angostura projectile points was common, it could explain why there exists so much morphological variability within the type. This presentation is an overview of the methodology and goals of the analysis of the Angostura projectile point type. Additionally, preliminary results from the macro- and microscopic analyses will be discussed. Ultimately, the goals of this study are to better understand the unique Angostura projectile point type and to determine how Angostura projectile points were used through macroscopic analysis, micro-wear analysis, and experimental analysis.


2012

November 8

    Carey Weber

        Trial and Error: 30 Years of Attempts to Protect Archeological Sites on Federal Lands; What Really Works

Charged with the responsibility of protecting cultural resources on public lands, federal agencies have battled against vandalism, erosion, and development with declining budgets to carry out the mission. This presentation reveals what techniques work and are also affordable, and offers landowners with sites options on how to protect them from trespassers.


October 11

    David O. Brown

        End of Empire: The Final Years of the Inka Occupation in Northern Ecuador

Over the past few seasons, we have been studying archaeological sites in Ecuador that were built in the last decades before the Spanish conquest and abandoned shortly thereafter. These include forts, shrines, and a few other miscellaneous site types all lying within the spectacular montane settings of the northern Andes. While the Inka were famous for their monumental architecture, there are few extant examples of fine Inka stonework in the far north. Instead, there are perhaps as many fortresses in the north as in the entire rest of the empire, suggesting that conquest and pacification were not easy. We?ll talk about those difficulties and the story we are trying to piece together of those final years. 


September 13

    Craig Mayer

        Lesser Known Sites of the Southwest

The talk will explore Paleo, Ancestral Puebloan, and historic sites in New Mexico, Utah and Colorado: Blackwater Draw, Chaco Canyon, Hovenweep, Aztec, Inscription Rock, Chimney Rock, and the Butterfield Overland Mail Site. The ethno-archaeology, setting, and architecture of the sites will be examined, in context of the greater sphere of cultural development in the region.


August 9

    Dan Potter, Texas Historical Commission (retired)

        Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Bedrock Mortars of the Edwards Plateau (and beyond)

The talk describes what bedrock mortars are, and some of the variation they exhibit in Texas. Clues relating to the function of these unique features are discussed, including the discovery of plant residues, importance of use wear, spatial distribution of sites with mortars, and gleanings from the ethnographic record.


July 12

    Members' Slide Show

        2012 Texas Archeological Society Field School at Devils River


May 10

    Amy Borgens, Texas Historical Commission

        The Archaeology of Shipwrecks in the Lone Star State

There are more than 1800 reported shipwrecks in state waters. Almost one hundred vessels have been discovered and issued archeological site numbers. These shipwrecks include Spanish "Plate Fleet" vessels, Civil War blockade runners, Texas river steamboats, and a WWII torpedoed steamship. Texas was the first Gulf state to develop antiquities legislation to protect historic shipwreck sites and has employed a state marine archeologist since 1972. Amy Borgens of the Texas Historical Commission will overview the variety of historic vessels investigated in Texas and focus particularly on Texas-permitted projects conducted in more recent years since the discovery of La Belle in 1995.


April 12

    David O. Brown and Meredith L. Dreiss, Archeological Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin

        Before Tequila: The First Plant God Created

For the past several years David O. Brown and Meredith L. Dreiss have been filming a documentary on the long relationship between humans and the agave plant, from rock ovens on the Edwards Plateau many thousands of years ago to boutique Oaxacan mezcals today. They have amassed more than 60 hours of video and hundreds of historic still images on shoots in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and various locations in Mexico, as well as thousands of production slides. Though David will be delivering much of the presentation, Meredith, co-presenter and co-investigator, is the film's producer and assembled most of this slide show. They will show production slides from the movie and talk about agave's role in many prehistoric and historic cultures of Mesoamerica and the American Southwest.


March 8

    Margaret Howard, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

        Come Down to Devils River! 2012 TAS Field School on Devils River State Natural Area

The 2012 TAS Field School is a reconnaissance survey of the south unit of Devils River State Natural Area, a 17,000 acre property in Val Verde County with 10 miles of frontage on the Devils River. TAS members will identify the most significant sites so that they can be protected when the state natural area opens to the public in 2013. Fifteen survey crews will focus on canyons, searching for rockshelters, rock art, burned rock middens, open camps, and historic habitations. Sites will be recorded with GPS units and described on check box-style forms. Other activities include testing at a few locations, survey of a historic ranch site, rock art documentation, and restoration of a vandalized rockshelter. When the work day is over, participants can cool down in Amistad Reservoir near the TAS camp. There also will be rock art tours and opportunities to swim, fish, and kayak on the crystal-blue Devils River. Come on down!


February 9

    James V. Woodrick

        Archaeology and History of the Bernardo Plantation

James V. Woodrick, the Project Historian for the Bernardo Plantation Archaeology Project in Waller County, has written a book (Bernardo, Crossroads, Social Center and Agricultural Showcase of Texas) that tells the story of Jared E. Groce III (1782-1836), his family, and the plantation that he established in 1822 on a crossing of the Brazos River near Hempstead. Groce was one of the Old Three Hundred settlers of Stephen F. Austin's colony. He and his heirs built Bernardo, Groce's Retreat, Pleasant Hill, Eagle Island, and Liendo. The book follows the site's history from its inception in 1822 through the Republic of Texas, the Civil War, abolition of slavery, and its subsequent demise without enslaved labor. The Groce Family Plantations Historical Marker notes, "A contribution of the family to the cause of Texas freedom was providing rations and ferry service to army of Gen. Houston on eve of San Jacinto victory. Descendants have contributed leadership to the state."


January 12

    Nick Morgan

        Update on Excavations at the Joyful Horse site (41BP691)


2011

November 10

    Bill West

        Archaeology and History of the Robinson-West River Plantation

"My wife and I own what was once an original working cotton plantation, built by slaves in 1857 in Point Blank, Texas, on the banks of the Trinity River. The first half of the presentation will be about the artifacts we have found, and the chain of events which followed their discovery. This will be followed by a 10 minute slide show. The second half concerns the history of the plantation, including the original owners (the Robinsons) association with such historic characters as General Sam Houston, General Gilbert Du Motier Lafayette, Governor George Tyler Wood, and others. Throughout the presentation there will be strong emphasis on our responsibility to preserve Texas history, as well as suggestions as to how we can do this."


October 13

    Craig Mayer

        Lesser Known Sites of the Southwest

The talk will explore several Ancestral Puebloan/Anasazi sites and structures in New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. Focus will be on Chaco Canyon, Hovenweep, Aztec, and Chimney Rock. The ethno-archaeology, setting, and architecture of the sites will be examined, in context of the greater sphere of cultural development in the region.


September 8

    Charles Frederick, Consulting Geoarchaeologist-Geologist

        A Tale of Two Houses: Or In Praise of Burnt Buildings. Recognizing Earthen Architecture in the Texas Archeological Record

Earth (or dirt) has been used as a building material for thousands of years, and even today earth is still one of the most common domestic building materials on the planet. But recognizing ancient earthen buildings is challenging and subtle. This presentation examines ancient earthen architecture in prehistoric Texas, drawing primarily upon fieldwork done during the last several years on the M-Cross Ranch in Roberts County, Texas. In particular, the presentation will compare and contrast two nearly identical prehistoric buildings that differ only in the mode of preservation, one of which was burnt, and the other simply was left to decompose naturally, by the effects of wind and rain. The results are striking, and highlight the role of taphonomy in facilitating (or hindering) recognition of such structures.


August 11

    Steve Davis and Elliot Richmond

        Update on the 2011 Texas Legislative Session, Flintknapping Video

Steve Davis provided a final update on how the last legislative session will impact archeological funding and practice in Texas. Elliot Richmond showed a video demonstration of fire-starting and flint-knapping. 


July 14

    Members' Slide Show

        The 2011 Texas Archeological Society Field School


June 9

    No meeting


May 11

    Rachel Feit, Ecological Communications Corporation

        Urban Archeology

Historians, cultural geographers and historical archeologists have observed that the city itself is an artifact that can be a barometer for cultural, economic, and social conditions throughout history. Though a great deal of information can be gleaned from historical documents and archival sources, the material record developed through archeology also offers critical details about how past societies planned and used urban space at a functional level. The data gained from urban archeology can enhance, and sometimes even contradict, written records. This talk brings together the results of a number of projects (some old and some new) that Rachel has been involved with, in an attempt to synthesize what archeology has to say about urban life in Texas during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


April 14

    Chuck Hixson and Gene Schaffner, LUAS

        Fifteen years of Field Trips with the Llano Uplift Archeological Society

Nearly every third Saturday of the month, the members of the Llano Uplift Archeological Society (LUAS) go on a field trip, usually to private ranch somewhere in the Texas Hill Country, to survey for archeological sites and have fun. We will showing slides of some of the more interesting sites that have been recorded during these trips. The sites include some spectacular rockshelters, little-known central Texas pictograph sites, and a prehistoric campsite and historic town usually submerged by one of the Highland Lakes.


March 10

    Leslie Bush, Macrobotanical Analysis

        An Update on Caddo Plant Research in East Texas 

Plants recovered during recent excavations at archaeological sites in East Texas have added to our understanding of the development of Caddo agriculture. Recent excavations confirm our understanding that corn is not abundant or ubiquitous until around AD 1200. The wood charcoal assemblage at Pine Tree Mound (41HS15) indicates extensive land clearance for agriculture. Historic accounts and local hydrology suggest fields were located away from river channels. Native plants that were cultivated elsewhere in the Eastern Woodlands from the Late Archaic are sometimes ubiquitous but never abundant on Caddo sites. Wood to nut ratios, used locally, indicate a decrease in nut remains concomitant with the rise of corn. Nuts increase in visibility again in the historic period. Cane, persimmon, and grapes are common wild plants on Cadddo sites. Important aquatic resources include lotus, waterlily, and "seeds of reed".


February 10

    Video Presentation

        The Gault Site


January 13

    Ron Ralph, Archeological Assessments

        Canyon de Chelly: From Anasazi to Anglo

Indented shelters in the sandstone cliff face have been the home of ancient people for hundreds of years. Overlooking gently flowing streams and crops of corn, beans, squash, the ancient towns are flanked by pictographs marching in stately majesty along the narrow cliffs. If they could speak, they would tell us about the ancient people, the Hopi, the Apache, the Navajo, the Spanish, the Mexican and the Anglo travelers, raiders, settlers and inhabitants of the three canyons (de Chelly, del Muerto and Monument) which wind east from Chinle to the Chuska mountains and the Mogollon rim. This then is their story. 

2010

December 11

    Holiday Social


November 11

    John Arnn, Texas Department of Transportation

        Distinguishing Socio-cultural Identity in the Archaeological Record: Toyah/Tejas Social Field

Archaeologists in Texas recognize a Late Prehistoric material culture known as Toyah that spans approximately 400 years (A.D. 1300-1700) and a quarter of the state; this material culture vanished shortly after direct European contact. Alternatively, historians recognize significant cultural diversity in this same region, documenting dozens of groups who spoke several different languages between A.D. 1528 and 1700. The marked difference in these interpretations suggest to some that a clearer understanding of identity and interaction is necessary in order to understand the dichotomy between the archaeological and historical records. The following synthesis presents evidence for multiple cultural identities in which individuals and groups participated to varying degrees and in different ways throughout this region resulting in a widespread prehistoric social field recognized by archaeologists as the Toyah material cultural. This social field continued into the historic period where it was documented as the Tejas alliance. 


October 14

    Margaret Howard, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

        10,000 Years at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, El Paso County, Texas

People have been drawn to Hueco Tanks for over 10,000 years. Paleoindian hunters camped between the rock hills; Archaic people subsisted on the wildlife and plants while occupying rockshelters. Simple dams built to retain water in cracks and crevices of the rock hills eventually allowed more people to gather. Formative occupations were intensive, supported by corn and beans grown in moist soils and succulents baked in rock-lined pits. Hueco Tanks also was a landmark in the sacred landscape for over 1,000 years. Many images drawn on the rocks represent petitions for rain; sacred areas were high on the hills, and many persons were laid to rest there. A major trail ran through the Tanks as early as 1692, and a stage station operated from 1858 to 1859. A cattle ranch was established in 1892 and ran until 1956. Since 1970, TPWD has restored, interpreted, and protected this significant cultural legacy. 


September 9

    Douglas K. Boyd, Prewit and Associates, Inc.

        The Ransom Williams Site: Public Archeology at a Nineteeth-Century African American Farmstead

In 2009, the Texas Department of Transportation sponsored data recovery excavations at an African American-owned farmstead occupied from about 1871 until 1905. Ransom and Sarah Williams, both former slaves, raised five children on their 45-acre, hardscrabble farm south of Austin. Although surrounded by white neighbors, the Williams family maintained ties with other African Americans, and probably had some relatives living in the nearby Freeman's community called Antioch Colony. Various lines of evidence suggest that the Williams family was quite successful with their family farm at a time when economic opportunities for blacks were very limited. This project was designed to include historical archeology, extensive archival research, as well as an oral history component that reached out to descendant community members and other interested parties. As a spin-off from this research, KLRU, the Austin-based public television station, featured the public archeology at the Ransom Williams farmstead in their 2010 Juneteenth Jamboree program.


August 12

    Clint McKenzie

        Three Years in a Hole: An Overview of the Excavations and Findings from Fool's Rockshelter

The Southern Texas Archaeological Association (STAA) performed archaeological investigations at 41CM294 from April of 2007 through June of 2009. The presentation will focus on the site and its setting as well as the various cultural deposits and notable features. The rockshelter lies above Indian Creek in Comal County and is part of the Cibolo Creek drainage. The site's location well above the floodplain, coupled with the fact that it is a perennially dry shelter, resulted in the deposition of nearly four meters of cultural material. The majority of the talus slope of the site, and portions of the interior of the shelter, were heavily looted for many years prior to the STAA salvage excavations. Despite the nearly wholesale destruction of 90% of the site, it still evidenced discrete occupational events from the historic period through the Middle Archaic, and possibly earlier. Of particular note were very well preserved Frio period occupations with intact hearth features and numerous discarded Frio points. Radiocarbon assays indicate a date range of 60 to 390 AD. Obsidian from this horizon was sourced to the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. Another feature associated with the Frio occupation included a rabdotus dump with in excess of 30,000 snails. These and other features as well as artifacts will be presented and discussed.


July 8

    Members' Slide Show

        The 2010 Texas Archeological Society Field School


June 10

    No meeting


May 13

    Douglas G. Mangum, Moore Archeological Consulting, Inc.

        Metal Detecting and Archeology at the San Jacinto Battlefield

Since 2003 Moore Archeological Consulting, in cooperation with members of the Texas Archeological Stewards Network and a group of volunteer metal detectorists, has conducted a series of investigations in and around the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. These investigations have provided us with a new window through which to view the brief but intense conflict that took place on this site in 1836. This presentation will focus on recent discoveries and how they have added to, and in some cases altered, the overall picture of the battle.


April 8

    Eske Willerslev, Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, and the Centre for Ancient Genetics, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen

        The Importance of DNA Evidence

Dr. Willerslev and his colleagues are interested in understanding what caused the decreases in diversity of megafauna after the last ice age and are also working to develop techniques to recover DNA primarily from ice-preserved specimens, such as DNA from sediments in ice cores and fossil bones found in permafrost. In 2010, a team led by Dr. Willerslev sequenced the genome of a man from the 4,000 year old Saqqaq culture of Greenland from his hair, finding that the man was from an early migration group that did not seem to have intermixed with later inhabitants. It appears that the individual was neither a direct relative of Inuits or Native Americans, with his closest relatives being a population currently living in Siberia.


March 11

    Linda Ellis, PBS&J

        Ground, Battered, and Polished Stone Tools From the Ear Spool Site (41TT653)

The Ear Spool site was a Late Caddo Titus Phase domestic farmstead located just north of the Cypress Creek/White Oak Creek watershed boundary. A total of 109 ground, battered, and polished stone tools were recovered from the site. Detailed analysis of the assemblage identified a variety of tool types indicative of a diverse range of activities, providing a unique opportunity to link recovered artifacts with actual resource utilization of the Caddo peoples that lived at the site.


February 11

    Ron Ralph, TPWD (retired) and Cave Archeologist

        Eagle Bluff: The 2010 TAS Field School

Next June, the Texas Archeological Society Field School will be held in northern Medina County between Hondo on Highway 90 and Tarpley. The hill country setting is about 50 miles west-northwest of San Antonio and features a multitude of prehistoric sites to investigate, several hundred acres to survey, and a Yankee garrison in Castroville for the historically-minded. Camping under live oaks at the Medina County Fairground and gathering in the large livestock barn for meetings and lab -- what could be better?! And you can always cool off in beautiful Hondo Creek with the adult beverage of your choice . . . .


January 14

    Organizational meeting


2009

November 12

    Michael Pool, Austin Community College and St. Edwards University

        Modeling the Mogollon Early Pithouse Period Settlement System

Because cultigens, pithouses, and ceramics are found in Mogollon pithouse sites, these people have been traditionally been considered to be sedentary, village agriculturalists. However, over the last 35 years, various researchers have suggested that at least the early part of this period was characterized by a mobile or semi-sedentary settlement system based on mixed foraging and agriculture. The Western Apache provide a useful model of how a semisedentary group with a mixed horticultural and foraging subsistence system exploits the seasonal and spatial variability of food resources in the Southwest inhabited by the Mogollon.

October 8

    Karen Bell, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Summer in Peru Program, Austin Community College

        Peruvian Coastal Archaeology

Dr. Bell showed slides of archeological sites of coastal Peru (non Inka) and her introduction to Peruvian coastal archaeology during the summer of 2008. She also made a short presentation about the ACC study abroad program in Peru.


September 10

    Ron Ralph, Cave Archeologist and retired TPWD Archeologist

    Chiquihuitillos Pictographs

There is a brilliant, vibrant rock art style in Mexico straddling the boarder of Coahuila and Nuevo Leon. Chiquihuitillos pictographs are characterized by red and orange angular geometric designs placed in fine-lined rectilinear, subrectangular, oval or multi-sided box outlines. The nested zigzags, pendant triangles, saw-toothed lines and spoked or rayed circles are known from nine locales in the Sierra Madre Oriental between Monterrey and Monclova. Found usually in shallow overhangs and rock shelters, this distinct polychrome motif appear to be ritually placed and may date to 2000 or more years ago. Below the pictographs at the base of the talus slope are fallen sandstone blocks with older petroglyphs. The pecked patterns are usually concentric circles, lines and overlapping diamond patterns. A few stone artifacts may occasionally be found amongst the boulders.


August 13

    Leslie Bush, Macrobotanical Analysis, Manchaca, Tx

        Assessing Seasonality through Archeological Plant Remains

Using carbonized remains of food plants to determine at what season a feature or site was used can be difficult. Beyond the taphonomic issues that are usual in archeology, many plants can be easily dried and stored, resulting in a potential lag of several months between the time of plant harvest and the time of plant consumption. This can be a significant problem in assessing the season of plant consumption by sedentary people. Among mobile groups, timing of consumption of short-season fruits can be relatively straightforward, but even mobile peoples preserved some fruits and nuts for later consumption. Resources such as bulbs and tubers are available more or less year-round, although they may be more palatable at some times than others. Unlike food plants, burs presumably came to archeological sites unintentionally, clinging to human clothing or the fur of prey animals. Because their presence reflects the immediate disposal of nuisance plants, burs can be extremely useful indicators of seasonality. Results of a four-year study of specimens collected in southern Indiana show which burs can be expected at which seasons. Implications for Texas and possibilities for future research are also discussed.


July 9

    Members' Slide Show

        The 2009 Texas Archeological Society Field School

The 2009 TAS Field School took place June 13-20 in the Panhandle near Perryton, Texas. Archeological excavations and survey took place at several sites, including the large, ceramic period village of Chill Hill (41RB132) and Evans' 1868 military supply depot (41RB111). Excavators uncovered housefloors, hearths, midden, and at least one bison processing area (at the Eastview site). Chipped stone tools and debitage were common. Pottery and obsidian were less common but not rare. Two pipes were found at Chill Hill, one ceramic and one ground from red stone. Metal detecting crews recovered at least one metal arrow point and many, many other objects. For those camping at Wolf Creek/Lake Fryer, the weather provided additional thrills. TCAS members who survived the hail and wind (or wisely stayed in Perryton hotels) showed their photos at the July meeting.


June 11

    No meeting


May 14

    Nick Trierweiler, Director of Cultural Resources, Ecological Communications Corporation

        The Zilker Park Dig (41TR1364)

In December 2008, EComm was awarded a contract by the City of Austin to conduct archeological data recovery at the Vara Daniels Site (41TV1364) in Zilker Park. Earlier testing showed that the site has deeply buried archeological deposits that date to the earliest period in Texas' prehistory & the Paleoindian period of about 10,000 years ago. These very early deposits are rare and of considerable significance. Although the entire site covers nearly 60 acres between Barton Creek and the Colorado River, only a very small portion will be excavated. Under the direction of EComm's Principal Investigator Dr. Nick Trierweiler, the excavation will focus on the deposits under the Zilker rugby fields. Within a pit braced by steel shoring, EComm's archeologists will dig more than 16 feet down below the modern ground surface. Because the site is expected to generate high public interest, the site will be open for public viewing five days per week, and live video will feed to the City's website. In addition, EComm archeologists will give tours of the site to schools and youth groups and the public will be invited to help screen for artifacts on weekends. The excavations will take place during April and May. Archeology is always a "discovery science" and there is no telling what may be found deeply buried. However, EComm is confident that the dig will be an unparalleled opportunity to reach out to the Austin public, to involve them in helping to preserve Texas's past, and to educate Austin young people about archeology and the importance of historic preservation.

    Nick Morgan, Texas Historical Commission Archeological Steward

        Excavations at Joyful Horse (41BP691)

Priliminary Findings at the Joyful Horse Site, 41 BP691 . . . . After a little more than two and half years of excavations at the Joyful Horse Site in central Bastrop County, a nice chronology is becoming evident. So far, artifacts ranging from the mid archaic to the late prehistoric are presenting evidence that the site was occupied over a period of time that extends well back into the archaic, though just how far back is yet unknown. Two of four excavation blocks have been completed, and lab work/analysis has begun. These blocks yielded evidence of occupation during the late prehistoric, Toyah and Austin phases. Perdiz and Scallorn points, ceramic sherds, bison processing tools, features, and faunal remains have been recovered and promise to increase our understanding of these cultural manifestations. Ongoing excavations of block "D" have yielded Ensor and Marshall points, sparse faunal material, ceramic sherds, and evidence of at least one intact feature.


April 9

    Charles Hixson, Archeological Steward for the Llano Uplift Archeological Society in Llano County

        Dstretching the Pictographs at Painted Indian Cave (41BC1)

The 41BC1 pictographs are presumed to have been painted within a narrow time frame, perhaps in a single episode. Radiocarbon analysis on one of the pictographs indicates that they were painted around 800 years ago at the beginning of the Late Prehistoric. The site was recently revisited and found to contain many faint pictographs that were previously unnoticed. These were photographed and later digitally enhanced using Dstretched software. The enhancement brought out unseen details and has allowed the identification of the subject matter of most of the faint pictographs. We now know our assumptions as to the contemporaneity and age of the pictographs are incorrect and at least one and possibly more of the paintings are Historic. 


March 12

    Dr. Harry J. Shafer, Texas Ex and Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M University

        Woodland Cultures of East Texas and Their Central Texas Connections

East and southeast Texas cultures were socially connected to the Woodland Cultures of the Eastern United States from ca. 500 BC to 900 CE. Each Woodland culture maintained respective territories that contained concentrated resources. The groups are archaeologically identified on the basis of distinctive material items within a milieu of shared similarities. In Texas, Woodland cultures have been or are provisionally identified as Fourche Maline, Mill Creek, Upper Trinity, Mossy Grove, and Allens Creek. Central and southeast areas are directly connected to these Woodland groups through social interaction and exchange of exotic artifacts, especially large bifaces of Edwards chert and conch shell artifacts. Like the Woodland pattern in the Midwest, these exotic artifacts were probably obtained by direct access rather than down-the-line exchange.


February 19

    C. Andrew Hemmings, Research Associate, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL)

        Searching for the Early Occupation of the Northeast Gulf of Mexico

Dr. Hemmings will lead an underwater archeological expedition July 30 to Aug. 12 in the Gulf of Mexico to search for submerged evidence of the first Americans. Hemmings and James Adovasio, director of the Mercyhurst College Archaeological Institute in Erie, Pa., who serves as co-principal investigator of the project, will study ancient submerged coastlines in the northeastern Gulf to determine where early Americans, known as the Clovis culture, might have lived more than 12,000 years ago when the underwater terrain was dry land.


January 15

    Myles Miller, Principal Investigator, Geo-Marine, Inc.

        Madera Quemada: New Insights from a 14th Century Jornada Pueblo

Madera Quemada is an early 14th century Jornada Mogollon pueblo located in south-central New Mexico. The majority of the room block, consisting of 13 rooms, was burned and deposits of roofing material and structural supports were present in several rooms. Floor and subfloor features were in an outstanding state of preservation and intact floor assemblages were present in several rooms. The excavation and study of Madera Quemada has been generously funded by the Fort Bliss Environmental Division and has provided an exceptional opportunity to investigate the technological, social, economic, and ritual aspects of a 14th century Jornada Mogollon pueblo settlement. Ongoing analysis of the excavation data is providing new insights into Jornada pueblo social organization, the potential roles of ritual economies in social integration, ritual abandonment of pueblos, and several other issues regarding the nature pueblo settlements in west Texas and southern New Mexico. The place of Madera Quemada and El Paso phase puebloan cultures in the larger picture of Southwestern population movements and other social and ritual developments of the early Pueblo IV period will also be discussed.


2008

December 11

    Holiday Social


November 13

    Dr. Solveig Turpin, University of Texas at Austin, Founder of the Borderlands Archeological Research Unit and former director of the Texas Archeological Survey

        The Rock Art of Coahuila

Dr. Turpin will give two Powerpoint presentations on the rock art of Coahuila. The first is an overview of Coahuilan rock art from the earliest paintings in the north to the thousands of Archaic petroglyphs in the south, including examples of portable art as well. The theme of the presentation is Trance and Transformation in the Indigenous Rock Art of Coahuila and attempts to show the various ways in which religion is evidenced in all of the prehistoric art forms. The second presentation, The Clash of Cultures as Represented in the Rock Art of Coahuila, surfs through the various historic paintings and petroglyphs with an emphasis on the transition from hostility to Christian assimilation. Both are excerpts from her forthcoming book, The Indigenous Art of Coahuila (El Arte Indigena de Coahuila), which she says will be published in Mexico -- whenever.


October 9

    Steve D. Hoyt, MA, State Marine Archeologist, Archeology Division, Texas Historical Commission

        Indianola: Rediscovering the Ruins of a Lost Port City

In a little over forty years beginning in the early 1840s, the town of Indianola, Texas, grew from an empty sandy beach to a major port city and returned to an empty beach. By 1887, the town was gone, destroyed by successive hurricanes of 1875 and 1886. Numerous sailing vessels and at least three steamships are known lost at the port, due to storms, accidents and abandonment. The Texas Historical Commission conducted the Indianola Project to locate and document previously unidentified historic shipwrecks, wharves and other aspects of the maritime landscape at Indianola. The presentation will cover the fascinating history of Indianola and a summary of the archeological investigations conducted thus far.


September 11

    Ron Ralph, cave archeologist and retired Texas Parks and Wildlife resource specialist

        Fort Jefferson: Gibralter of the Gulf, Dry Tortugas National Park

Located 70 miles due west of Key West, the Dry Tortugas are a series of keys scattered like loose pearls on the green breast of the gulf of Mexico. Discovered and named by Ponce de Leon in 1513, 7 islands or keys contained an abundance of sea turtles and an absence of fresh water. Once purchased by the United States, first a lighthouse, then a brick masonry fort was begun on Garden Key. Construction continued throughout the Civil War resulting in Fort Jefferson, the largest masonry structure in the western hemisphere. This is the story of that remote and isolated shore.


August 14

    Douglas K. Boyd, Vice President, Prewitt and Associates, Inc.

        History and Archeology of the First Capitol of the Republic of Texas

In conjunction with the proposed development of a historical park by a local nonprofit group, archeological and historical investigations were conducted on the site of the first capitol of the Republic of Texas in West Columbia, Texas. The work focused on Lot 4, Block 2 of the old Columbia townsite because it once contained a wooden structure used by the House of Representatives during the First Congress from October to December 1836. Archeologists from Prewitt and Associates, Inc. and the Brazosport Archaeological Society completed a week of field investigations at the site in December 2007. Mechanical and hand excavations exposed a brick-lined cistern filled with twentieth-century debris, several pit features containing nineteenth-century artifacts, numerous postholes, and scattered nineteenth- and twentieth-century artifacts. Following the field investigations, archival research was undertaken to define the legal history of this property and identify its historic uses. This work is revealing part of the story behind one of Texas' most important historical places -- the First Capitol of the Republic of Texas.


July 10

    Members' update on TAS Field School. 


June 12

    No meeting. Texas Archeological Society excavations near Perryton, Texas.


May 8

    Dr. Elliot Richmond, Professor of Astronomy at Austin Community College

        Archaeoastronomy in Texas: Possibilities for the Future

I have always been interested in archaeoastronomy. Around the world, archaeoastronomy typically involves measuring the azimuths between standing stones, buildings, windows, walls, and similar structures. Few of those are applicable in Texas, so this talk will explore a few areas where archaeologists and astronomers might productively search for astronomical connections, if any exist.


April 10

    Jonathan H. Jarvis, TexSite and Atlas Coordinator, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory

        Cemetery, Cementerio: Architectural and Cultural Trends Evident in the Grave Markers at the Merrelltown Cemetery and Cementerio Guadalupe

Tombstones and other grave markers reflect broader patterns of architectural and cultural history. This presentation identifies diachronic trends evident in grave marker morphology at two historic cemeteries in central Texas: the Merrelltown Cemetery (41TV1716), a Protestant Anglo cemetery, and Cementerio Guadalupe (41CW108), a Mexican-American cemetery.


March 13

    Dr. George Staff, Professor and Department Head, Environmental Science and Technology, Austin Community College

        Carbon footprints


February 14

    Mariah F. Wade, Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin

        Missions for Hunter-Gatherers: Successes and Failures


January 10

    Billy Atkins, City of Austin Office of Emergency Management

    The 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic in Austin



2007

December 

    Holiday Social 


November 8

    Elizabeth Pintar, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Austin Community College

        Archaeological Investigations at Salamanca Cave in the South Central Andes


October 11

    Dr. D. Clark Wernecke, Research Associate, Texas Archeological Research

        Forgotten Heroes of the Republic: A Grave from the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, May 9, 1846

In 1967 construction work exposed a mass grave of Mexican soldiers from the second battle of the Mexican War, Resaca de la Palma. Ongoing research is trying to discover the identities of these soldiers, what their life had been like and what that final day was like. The Mexican War has been overshadowed in our histories by the Civil War and the Battle of Resaca de la Palma has often been addressed in an offhand way. In fact, the battle was a pivotal one whose outcome could have dramatically changed history. 


September 13

    Joanne Carpenter

        The Olmec: Through the Portable Portal and Beyond

Ritual objects held in the hands of Olmec statues, images, cave paintings, and many other depictions have not been identified as anything, except that useful archaeological catch-all, "ritual objects." I propose that these objects are more than just symbols, but served as subliminal portals thought to give access to other worlds to whomever possesses them. There are many examples of these "Portable Portals," but they have not been studied together as a group. I hypothesize that these hand held objects carry all the way through to the Maya and recent developments or findings suggest that these symbols may have been expressed in a syntax on a large stone slab found of Olmec origin. 

    Elliot Richmond, Ph.D

        Astronomical alignments at Stonehenge and the purpose of the original structure

Most people view the standing stones an Stonehenge and step over the interesting and most ancient part of the structure. Several archaeoastronomers have detected alignments with important astronomical events among the standing stones, but I contend that it is not very useful for that purpose and has little practical value as an almanac or astronomical calculator. On the other hand, the original, 3500 year-old bank and ditch may have served as the basis for a system of precise "horizon astronomy" measurements that could have been used to predict the cycles of the seasons reliably and would have served as an almanac for the builders. 


August 9th

    Elliot Richmond, PhD. Adjunct Professor Astronomy, Austin Community College

        Stonehenge and Astronomy

A brief look at the origin and evolution of the world's most famous megalithic monument and its possible astronomical connections. 


July 12th

    Members' update on TAS Field School. 


June 14th

    No meeting. Texas Archeological Society excavations at Presidio San Saba, Menard, Texas.


May 10th

    Carly Whelan, University of Texas at Austin

        Modeling the Coastal Migration Hypothesis

A new computer model of Pleistocene human migration down the west coast of the Americas is presented and discussed. 


April 12th

    Cynthia Shelmerdine, Robert M. Armstrong Centennial Professor of Classics, and Acting Chair of the Classics Department, University of Texas at Austin

        Unearthing the Mycenaeans

Mycenaean Greece has attracted scholars and laymen alike since the work of Heinrich Schliemann in the late 19th century. Better excavation techniques and the decipherment of Linear B, the Mycenaean script, as Greek brought our understanding of this culture into focus during the 20th century. Recently archaeological survey and new ways of reading the Linear B tablets have allowed us to see beyond the Mycenaean elites, with their palaces and monumental tombs, and to form a better picture of the full range of Late Bronze Age society. This lecture covers the evolving study of Mycenaean Greece, including the lecturer's current work on the Iklaina Archaeological Project, directed by Michael Cosmopoulos of the Greek Archaeological Society and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 


March 8th

    Andrew Malof, archeologist, Lower Colorado River Authority

        Data Recovery at 41CM25, the Locke Farm site, New Braunfels, Texas

Surrounding the head of Comal Springs, the Locke Farm Site was the  location of a prehistoric cemetery excavated by locals, the  University of Texas and Harvard University in the 1930s. Recent  redevelopment efforts on portions of the site then owned by LCRA  resulted in mitigative work in an area where testing demonstrated  there was good potential for identification of prehistoric  activities. Investigations targeted an apparent sheet midden located  about 50 cm below the ground surface that was associated with Middle  Archaic dart points. Underlying deposits appear to date to Early  Archaic and perhaps Paleoindian times. As with many Central Texas  sites, data recovery was limited largely to fire cracked rocks, chert  tools and chipping debris. This talk focuses on the analysis of  snails from the recovery column and how they informed on broad  environmental trends, thus providing clues to human adaptive behaviors.


February 8th

    Art Tiemann, Austin Metal Detecting Club

        History and Uses of Metal Detectors

A short history of metal detectors and an examination of what metal detectors can do -- and what they can't. 


January 11th

    Rachel Menegaz, eSkeletons Project, University of Texas at Austin, with Drs. Lauri McInnis Thompson and John Kappelman

        Trauma and Death in the Austin Phase

A peak in the use of prehistoric cemeteries within central Texas during the Austin Phase (700-1250 BP) is accompanied by a rise in projectile point-inflicted skeletal traumas. Several individuals from the Loeve-Fox site (41WM230) suffered fatal injuries from associated Scallorn points. Reassessment of Individual 21 from the site, who was not previously thought to suffer point-related trauma, revealed an embedded point in the right inner knee. Additionally, high-resolution computed tomographic (CT) scans show lithic spalls embedded in the right lower leg and heel. We hypothesize that these lithic fragments result from an explosion of an improperly heated chert cobble. 

    Lana Martin, University of Texas at Austin

        Variability in Texas Coastal Hunter-Gatherer Populations: An Analysis of the Crestmont Site (41WH39) Burial Inclusions

In recent decades, archaeological excavations in Central and South Texas have uncovered a rather unusual record of Middle and Late Archaic hunter-gatherer cemeteries. Why these cemeteries were created and what they might say about past social dynamics is unclear--to address these questions, this research explores variability in grave goods at the Crestmont site, a cemetery on the Texas Gulf Coast containing 31 burials. 


2006

December

    Holiday Social

November

    Nick Morgan (Texas Archeological Stewardship Network) The Joyful Horse Site (41BP691)

    Joanne Carpenter (Red River Project) Raising the Heroine

October

    Kark Kibler (Prewitt and Associates) Data Recovery Investigations at the Higginbotham Site (41ML195): A Late Archaic Site on the North Bosque River

September

    Joseph Carter (UT) The Chersonesos Project, 1992-2006

August

    Jay Banner (UT) Cave Deposits as Paleo-Environmental Records: Problems and Prospects

July

    Paris in the Spring: Our Adventures at the 2006 TAS Field School. Program led by Carolyn Spock, TAS President.

June

    No Meeting. Texas Archeological Society Field School near Paris, Texas.

May

    Constanze Witt (UT) Hard-Drinking Celtic Women

April

    Dan Prikryl (LCRA) The Lower Colorado River Authority's Cultural Resource Program

March

    Alan Skinner (AR Consultants) The Past and Future of the 2006 TAS Exploration of the Stallings Site

February

    Video presentation: Spadework for History with Mott Davis, episodes IV:The Desert and VI:Salvaging Texas Prehistory

January

    Sean R. Nash (UT) 41CM1: Data from the 1963 TAS Field School