Our next meeting will be September 21, 2021 via Zoom.

The September program will feature

Margaret Howard Melton (Texas Parks and Wildlife, Retired), speaking on

Excavations at Wild Turkey Midden, Mills County, Texas.

From 1983 to 1992, Travis County Archeological Society (TCAS) members and others excavated a site in western Mills County. Efforts focused on removing a cultural deposit above a buried sandstone burned rock midden, with limited excavation of the midden and cultural deposits below it. Time-diagnostic dart points indicate that the overlying stratum dates from A.D. 200 to 700 in Late Archaic sub-period II, and the burned rock midden dates from 1140 to 500 B.C. in Late Archaic sub-period I. The uppermost cultural deposits below the midden date from 1650-1250 B.C. in Late Archaic sub-period I.

A possible earth oven was observed in the upper part of the midden. Carbonized plant remains from the site were identified by Leslie Bush (TCAS Communications Chair) as consisting almost entirely of wood charcoal, while a few greenbriar stems and acorn nutmeats were found above and below the midden. The recovery of corn pollen in the wash of the basin of an overturned metate near the base of the midden is anomalous.

Data from 25 excavated burned rock middens within 15 miles of Wild Turkey Midden expand the interpretation of its probable formation and the subsistence practices that it represents. Some of those middens yielded charred bulbs of camus, wild onion, and other plants. Specialized cutting tools found at Wild Turkey Midden and nearby sites, along with carbonized sap from Brown County middens, suggest that sotol also may have been processed.

Acknowledgements: These findings were obtained through the efforts of more than 100 persons who dug at the site on 31 weekends over a period of 9 years. My heartfelt thanks go to these volunteers, with special appreciation for those who worked on many weekends: TCAS President Nick Morgan, Dr. E. Mott Davis, Linda Satter, Ralph McElroy, Larry Rettinger, Jayaine Genthe, and Vivian Taylor. I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to landowners Harry Miller and Randy and Sandy Wilson for allowing me to work on their property, and for their nearly infinite patience in waiting for this report to be completed.

A Zoom link will be sent via the TvCAS email list the Sunday before the meeting. The Zoom room will open at 6:30 for social time prior to a brief business meeting and the program.

Wild Turkey Midden - Crew Photo and Site Profile
(Photos courtesy of Margaret Howard Melon)

Margaret Howard Melton Biography: I graduated from the University of Texas in 1983, and have made my home in Austin for over 40 years. I learned about Texas archeology during 12 years working for Prewitt and Associates, Inc. and 2 years in the National Register Department of the Texas Historical Commission. From 1994 to 2017 I led the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Archeology Survey Team, and studied some of the most beautiful and significant places in Texas. I have served as president of the Texas Archeological Society and the Council of Texas Archeologists, and was TCAS treasurer in 1986-1987. I worked to increase diversity in the Texas Archeological Society Field School through the Native American scholarship program. In retirement my interests have turned to ballroom dance and glass art.

List of Wild Turkey Midden Crew Members, 1983-1992, provided by Margaret Howard Melton. Click the arrow in the upper right corner to open the .pdf document in a new tab.

41MI8 crew list.pdf

Wondering what our programs are like? View the list of speakers and topics we've had since 2006.

When conditions allow, the next regular meeting will be held on our usual schedule, the third Tuesday of the month at 7pm at Santa Rita Cantina's central location, 1206 W 38th St (26 Doors shopping center). Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month, except June and December. They are free and open to the public. For those who wish to come early, we gather around 5:45 PM for dinner, drinks, and fellowship. The short business meeting starts at 7:00 PM, followed by the guest speaker's presentation.


No in-person events are planned at this time. Check our Facebook page or join our mailing list for information on virtual meetings and online resources.