Tom Middlebrook M.D., Texas Archeological Stewardship Network
Finding Tejas: The Archeology of the First Location of Mission Concepción and Its Associated Sites
Background for the upcoming Texas Archeological Society Field School near Nacogdoches, Texas.
Jen Anderson, Archeologist, Texas Department of Transportation
Canine Archeologists: Using Cadaver Sniffing Dogs to Locate Archeological Burials
At the request of the tribes with whom we consult under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, TxDOT has been working to incorporate more non-invasive survey methods for identifying human remains within our right-of-way. One such method that we are currently testing is the use of search and rescue dogs that have been trained to identify post-mortem chemicals associated with clandestine graves. These so-called “cadaver sniffing” dogs have been used to successfully identify 8th century burials in Europe and mid- to late-nineteenth century burials in the western US. TxDOT is working closely with Dr. Ben Alexander, Visiting Professor at Texas State & K9 training coordinator at the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State (FACTS), to develop a protocol for training and utilizing the dogs for archeological survey. Although the research and development of this non-invasive survey method remains in the nascent stage, early results show that search and rescue dogs are capable of recognizing older scent profiles and they can assist with locating archeological burials.
Alan M. Slade, Lithic Analyst/Palaeolithic Researcher, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, UT-Austin
Texas Clovis and Folsom Fluted Point Surveys: What's the Point
Alan spent six years studying the Clovis fluted points in collections across North America, largely facilitated and encouraged by Prof. Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Michael Collins invited Alan to continue his analysis of Clovis fluted point technology and to become a lithic analyst for the project in 2019. From 2019 Alan is directing the Texas Clovis Fluted Point Survey (TCFPS) at TARL. In 2022, Alan initiated a Texas Folsom fluted Point Survey (TFFPS) to complement the Clovis one.
Christopher W. Ringstaff, Staff Archeologist, Texas Department of Transportation
Archeological Investigations along State Loop 195: Reconsidering Upland Sites in the Lower Rio Grande Plains of Starr County
An overview of Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) work at several sites in the Loop 195 right of way, including a newly-discovered site. Lithic resources, stone tools, and experimental reproductions are also discussed.
Robert Lassen, Principal Investigator, AmaTerra Environmental, Inc.
The Crane Dune Site (41CR61), a Prehistoric Habitation, Lithic Cache, and Burial Site in Crane County, Texas
The Crane Dune site (41CR61) was identified by AmaTerra archaeologists during a survey on behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) prior to the widening of Highway 385 in Crane County, Texas. The site is primarily Late Prehistoric in age, but a diffuse Archaic component and a possible Paleoindian occupation were also encountered. The site is centered on stabilized sand dunes, and the densest cultural occupation spans a 40-50 cm thick dark anthrosol layer consisting of charcoal-stained sand with abundant cooking features. Also identified at the site was a lithic cache of flake blanks and two human burials. Other artifacts from the site include dart and arrow points, occasional groundstone and ceramic sherds, chert and quartzite debitage, occasional obsidian flakes and tools, faunal material ranging from rodents to bison, and kaolinite and turquoise pendants and beads from the burials. The Crane Dune site provides a wealth of archaeological data in an under-studied region of Texas.
Christopher Lintz, Research Associate, Texas State University
Stone Tool Cache Diversity Across the Southern Plains: Insights into Prehistoric Behaviors and Cache Functions
Chipped stone caches are often regarded as rare occurrences from prehistoric Southern Plains sites. However, some 331 caches have been reported in published and online sources from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas (T-O-K-Area). This talk clarifies what constitutes a cache, explores the diversity of caches, and examines the distribution of chipped stone caches across the southern Plains. More than 126 kinds of chert and quartzite resources outcrop in the T-O-K Area; yet only ten of these were used for making items for stone caching purposes. The distribution of specific kinds of caches relative to bedrock source outcrop, and their occurrences representative of chipped stone manufacturing-use-discard-recycle stages provides insights into caching behaviors. Differences in lithic materials comprising caches provide insights into interaction boundaries. The condition and kinds of implements comprising the cache composition suggests that sometimes age-grade and gender specific activities can be reconstructed from these kinds of features.
Douglas K. Boyd, Senior Archeologist, Santec
It Ain't in Your History Textbooks: African-American Blacksmiths on the Texas Frontier
This program will look at the archeology of one blacksmith shop in Texas, and what we are learning about the important roles that African American blacksmiths played in the history of our state and our nation.
Although it lasted only two decades, from 1867 to ca. 1886, the Chisolm Trail era is steeped in cowboy and cattle drive history, folklore, and mythology. The trail’s route through Texas is known, but little research has been conducted on the towns and businesses that sprang up in support of this short-lived industry. One of the most important businesses along the Chisholm Trail, and in any frontier town, was the blacksmith shop. Blacksmithing was an essential service in rural areas, and good blacksmiths generally became prominent citizens in their communities.
The Texas Department of Transportation recently sponsored archeological and historical investigations at the Tom Cook Blacksmith Shop (41DN617), a site located in Bolivar, a small town along the Chisholm Trail route in western Denton County. Archeologists from Cox|McLain Environmental Consulting, now Stantec, investigated the site in 2020–2021. The site is especially significant because Thomas Cook, Sr., was an African American freedman who owned and operated his own blacksmith shop. He worked as a blacksmith in Bolivar from the 1870s until his death in 1898. Tom Cook was not only a successful blacksmith who raised his family in Bolivar, but he was also a minister, a freemason, and a respected member in his community.
Follow-up research reveals that Thomas Cook was not an anomaly. There were large numbers of African Americans blacksmiths working across the Southern United States in the late nineteenth century, and most learned their trade while they were enslaved. Their blacksmithing skills and ability to communicate with their customers gave them a head start upon emancipation. Freedmen blacksmiths often became prominent businessmen, church pastors, political leaders, and even civil rights activists. You won’t find their stories in most history textbooks, but it is time that we started teaching about some amazing African American blacksmiths.
Heather Leonard (educator, Pflugerville ISD and graduate student, University of Highlands and Islands, Orkney College, Scotland)
Skaill Farm: 800 Years of Occupation
Skaill Farm is a farmstead located in Westness on the island of Rousay in Orkney, Scotland. Situated on an approximately two-meter-high occupation platform, the farm overlays an earlier Norse drinking hall that is mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga. This presentation gives an overview of the ongoing summer field school excavations at Skaill Farm and the site’s relationship to the surrounding landscape of Westness and Orkney through its 800 years of known occupation.
Harry J. Shafer, PhD (Texas A&M Professor Emeritus, Witte Museum Curator of Archaeology)
Bison: Human Predation and Climate Change
This talk is about bison predation and climate. Bison were valuable resources for food and trade to central Texas Indian groups but were not always present. The climate over the past 12,000 years has gradually warmed but during that time several cold episodes had dramatic affect on bison movements into central Texas. The ebb and flow of bison presence and absence significantly impacted the economy and lifeways of the native Indian groups. Trade, establishing territorial rights, and internecine warfare were all consequences of bison presence. In this talk I highlight the material expressions left behind during the bountiful and lean times that help us tell the story of Texas’ dynamic past.
Eric Oksanen (Environmental Specialist, Archeological Studies Branch, Environmental Affairs Division, TxDOT)
Set Oven to Low-cook for 3,000 years: The 2021-2022 TAS Field School Investigations, Kerrville, Texas
Field School Director Eric Oksanen discussed the two seasons of the field school at 41KR744, The Bear Creek Ranch Site, preliminary findings, and what's next.
Dr. Eric Schroeder (Texas Parks and Wildlife)
Heritage Preservation on Private Rural Lands
An overview of the Texas Private Lands Preservation Partnership (TPLPP), the threats to heritage resources on private lands, and the techniques private landowners can use to preserve these resources on their land.
Dr. Mary Jo Galindo (Galindo Environmental Consulting, LLC) and Jimmy W. Arterberry (former THPO, Comanche Nation)
The TxDOT Tribal History Project
The recently completed TxDOT Tribal History Project composed histories for eleven tribes using sources they recommended, telling the story of their Tribe's time in Texas. Accomplished for planning purposes, the project had a spatial and temporal aspect that created a GIS dataset from each narrative. The content is designed to be incorporated into the cultural history section of CRM reports, which was by request from the Tribes. Mary Jo will present and discuss the project. Jimmy will provide commentary and be available for questions after the presentation.
Marybeth Tomka (Head of Collections, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, UT-Austin)
What Happens After the Dirt: the continuing life cycle of artifacts and records in a repository
This talk will describe rehabilitation efforts on various collections, how storage conditions -- of both the documentation and artifacts -- affects using the artifacts in the near and long term, and the importance of tracking what happened in between.
Archeological Investigations at the Williams-Buck Site (41WM272), A Mid-1800s to Early 1900s Settlement in Williamson County, Texas
In 2001 and 2002, the Texas Archeological Society youth group excavated 21 1x1 m units at the Williams-Buck Homestead. Investigations focused on an area 20 m southwest of a dogtrot structure built by William W. Williams between 1850 and 1851. The primary goal of the work was to determine whether or not the excavation area was the location of a temporary habitation, a possible lean-to structure, built between 1848 and 1849 by William W. Williams. A secondary goal of excavations was to obtain a sample of historic artifacts from the site. A total of 5,453 artifacts were recovered, dating from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, representing a full spectrum of pioneer material culture.
Initial reporting (Few et al. 2001) suggested that large limestone rocks found in the central portion of a low mounded area at the site, half a circular ash stain (Feature 1), and a possible post hole (Feature 2), may have been associated with the lean-to structure. Excavations in 2002 found that the limestone rocks were variable in size, randomly distributed, and intermixed with late nineteenth and early twentieth century artifacts. No mortar or daub was found adhering to the limestone and the possible post hole was determined to be a burned tree stump.
Examination of the field notes and artifacts suggest the mounded area likely represents a dump for the Williams and Buck families that resided in the nearby dogtrot from the 1850s into the mid-twentieth century. None of the deposits excavated definitely date to the 1840s or early 1850s as initially surmised. Instead, the archeological materials associated with deposits date from the 1870s into the 1920s, with an intermixing of mid-nineteenth century artifacts that likely represent either heirlooms or curated material.
The excavations in Feature 1 defined a 75 cm diameter shallow basin-shaped depression with abundant domestic artifacts dating from the 1870s to the 1920s. Fragments of a fire-affected light green bottle with perimeter basal stippling, a feature that does not appear on bottles until after 1940, was recovered in Unit 20-1 in Feature 1 and also in Unit 19-2, located in the center of the mounded area. This implied that the fill there represents secondary deposits burned in an event post-dating 1940. There is some evidence for burning found across the entire unit, with charcoal and ash being more common in the northeast corner, but there is little evidence for in situ burning, and densities of ash and charcoal are scattered, suggesting that the fill may have been dumped rather than burned in place.
Cross-mending of fragments from more than a 10 vessels established that pieces from the same vessel were found separated widely both horizontally and vertically across the excavation block. Significantly, fragments of several vessels recovered in the center of the mounded area cross-mend with fragments recovered in Features 1 and 2. This would not have been the case if discrete deposits of items had been deposited on an intermittent basis. The mounded area and features are likely the result of activities where trash from a primary deposit was scraped, transported, and dumped in the central area and used to fill unwanted low areas. Several cross-mended fragments from vessels are separated vertically in some cases by 10-15 cm, strongly suggesting rapid and infilling.
It has been proposed that the lack of definitive evidence for the lean-to does not preclude the possibility that such archeological remains are present but simply too ephemeral to be observed or were close by. While that is possible, synthesis and collation of existing archival records revealed a second and more probable location for the lean-to southeast of the dogtrot. While TAS was unable to locate the lean-to, what was uncovered is possibly more illuminating: the contrast between two families, occupying the same space but on either side of a pivotal and transitional time in the America West.
Leslie L. Bush (Macrobotanical Analysis)
A History of Caddo Agriculture in East Texas to 1730 CE
This talk traces the history of plant cultivation in East Texas, where the ancestors of today's Caddo Indians grew a variety of crops. The Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) are perhaps the most familiar, but they were not the only plants cultivated, nor were they the first. This talk traces the individual history of several crops with special attention to how each plant is connected to other plants and other practices in the field and on the table.
Victor Galan (Texas Archeological Stewardship Network, Deep East Texas Archaeological Consultants - retired)
Excavations of the Woodland and Caddoan occupations at the Honey Locust Site (41SM476) Sabine River Basin, Smith County, Texas
The Honey Locust site (41SM476) provided a unique opportunity to examine multiple Woodland and Caddoan features on the same site. Shovel testing, test units, and backhoe trenching found Middle Archaic to Caddo artifacts while a magnetometer survey identified 11 anomalies but no discernible Caddoan structures. Block excavations at seven of the anomalies found burnt rock clusters alongside a variety of Archaic and Woodland Period dart points. Mechanical stripping of the site revealed an additional 23 burned rock features and 14 post/Pit features scattered across the site along with 13 Middle Caddo burials in distinct clusters.
Linda C. Gorski (Texas Archeological Stewardship Network and President, Houston Archeological Society)
The Happy Hollow: An Emergency Salvage Archeology Project in Houston’s Historic Red Light District
For three short days at the end of January 2016 Texas Historical Commission Archeological Stewards from Harris County and members of the Houston Archeological Society participated in an emergency salvage archeology shovel testing project at a unique site in downtown Houston, Texas. Owners of the historic Lancaster Hotel were forced to demolish two equally historic adjoining buildings to provide parking spaces for the hotel. The owners of the hotel including Miki Lusk Norton graciously allowed the Texas Historical Commission to examine the site before it was paved over.
These historic buildings in the 500 block of Louisiana Avenue were built in 1907 and replaced earlier structures on the lots that were originally “female boarding houses” – aka brothels. The shovel testing revealed early cisterns, brick and concrete piers that supported the pier and beam building, an historic gulley and a privy. Approximately 1100 artifacts were recovered including many complete bottles that originally contained female medications and tonics providing clues as to what was going on at the site in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and lending credence to the site’s original name – “Happy Hollow”! This presentation will present the history of an early Red Light district in Houston through artifacts recovered at the site.
Margaret Howard Melton (Texas Parks and Wildlife, Retired)
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.
Jason W. Barrett (Coastal Environments, Inc.)
Charting a New Path for Southeast Texas Prehistory: Travel and Trade at Dimond Knoll
DeeAnn Story once wrote that it “is not an exaggeration (or much of an exaggeration) to describe the Archaic chronologies in [Southeast Texas] as among the least well established in North America.” (1990:213). The region has been notoriously neglected by professionals because sites often lack integrity, lithic raw materials are of poor quality, and between the mosquitos, snakes, alligators, and humidity, the field conditions are frankly often miserable. These factors have stunted an appreciation for how dynamic the Upper Gulf Coast was in prehistory. Finally, a clearer understanding of the region’s prehistoric importance has been reached through the Dimond Knoll project, largely due to the partnership developed between TxDOT, Coastal Environments, Inc., and the Houston Archeological Society.
Artifacts of exotic origin, or that references extra-regional traditions, have been recorded periodically in archeological deposits across southeast Texas. New data suggests that artifacts of this type are present far more regularly than they are identified, and that long-held assumptions and biases have contributed to this under-reporting. Stone tools from the sites of Dimond Knoll (41HR796) and Smithers Lake (41FB224) provide clear evidence of long-distance movement of people and ideas in prehistory. Remarkably, both the Dimond Knoll and Smithers Lake sites show evidence of having been repeatedly revisited over a period of more than eleven thousand years. Included among the 1330 projectile points recorded within their combined assemblages are artifact types commonly associated with the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys. The presence of exotic artifact styles in southeast Texas coincides with episodes of bison availability, suggesting that cooperative large game hunting helped to motivate long-distance human interaction.
In this presentation I propose a reconstructed network of indigenous footpaths and trade trails to explain the presence of exotic material culture in Southeast Texas, relying on data collected from journals, diaries, and other records of the 17th and 18th century Spanish entradas, as well as from 19th century maps. This new research indicates that native long-distance trade trails had extraordinary time depth, integrated with riverine trade networks, and spread across vast geographic areas.
Texas Archeological Society 2021 Field School Roundup
Members share photos and stories of archeological investigations and camp life at the 2021 Texas Archeological Field School near Kerrville, Texas.
Steph McDougal (McDoux Preservation, LLC)
The German Dance Halls of Texas; Their Roots and Lasting Influence
Texas dance halls are as diverse Texas itself, and can be found throughout the state. The story of Texas is embedded in the floors, walls, music and people found in these unique and iconic buildings. Texas once had 1000 dance halls; today only 400 remain, almost half of which were built by German immigrants. We will go over a brief history of German dance halls, and take a look at photos of some that remain.
James Karbula (HBK Engineering, LLC)
Archeological Testing and Data Recovery at the Toyah Bluff Site (41TV441)
Way back in 1998, Hicks & Company conducted archaeological testing and data recovery at a Late Prehistoric site (41TV441) at the proposed location of Southeast Metropolitan Park in Travis County, Texas. A total of 54 shovel tests, 34 backhoe trenches, and two open area blocks were excavated during the data recovery. The investigations documented an extensive Late Prehistoric occupation site seemingly spanning the transition period between the Austin and Toyah Intervals in central Texas prehistory (A.D. 1235-1425). The use of pit oven thermal features to process plant foods including onion bulbs is documented from 1235-1425 A.D. A Toyah lithic tool kit dominates the stone tool assemblage with admixture typical of the late Austin Interval. The interpretation from the fieldwork and analysis was that the Toyah Bluff site may represent a specialized plant food processing station within the Toyah subsistence settlement system or alternatively the tool kit was adopted by the late Austin Interval groups in response to the spread and availability of Bison. The material results of the field investigations are summarized in this presentation, without accounting for the latest research developments of the last 20 years or so regarding the Austin to Toyah cultural transition.
Timothy K. Perttula (Archeological and Environmental Consults, LLC)
Ancestral Caddo Mounds and Monuments in East Texas
The ancestral Caddo constructed social and cultural landscape is marked by earthen monuments or mounds, persistent places on the landscape from when they were built to the present day. They were visually striking because of the Caddo’s use of sediments of markedly different color in mound construction. They were deliberately set at key places on the landscape, some natural such aa at low water river crossings, or near the confluence of different streams, while others were of cultural selection along corridors of travel, such as along ancestral trails between settlements and earthen mound centers.
There are at least 115 known earthen mounds in East Texas. Most have only one or two constructed earthen monuments, but there are several that have as many as seven or eight mounds, including the Hudnall-Pirtle site in the Early Caddo period, the Jamestown site in the Middle Caddo period, the Horace Cabe site in the Late Caddo period, and the ca. 16th century seven-mound complex in the Big Cypress Creek basin at the closely-associated Harroun, Dalton, Chastain, and Camp Joy sites. The Caddo peoples that lived in East Texas between ca. A.D. 900-1690 created a long-lived historical landscape that was tied to specific places, beliefs, and cultural practices, including community centers marked by earthen mounds, plazas, as well as associated non-mound community cemeteries and many dispersed settlements; the majority of non-mound community cemeteries at the mound centers postdate ca. A.D. 1440.
The mounds used by Caddo peoples tied them to specific and special ritually charged places, and they also represent distinct period of social and cultural change, from one form of community-building to another, where after ca. A.D. 900 people became tied to these places. The building and rebuilding of mounds, and the building and rebuilding of the special structures that stood on the mounds, likely represent a principal and deliberate step towards Caddo communities creating their own history, ritual and political practices, and sacred places. Caddo mound centers and monuments were spiritual places as well as places of social, economic, and political practice and interaction. Even though not all mound centers served the same purposes, they likely were linked within broader and probably hierarchical communities.
The highest densities of earthen mounds are in several counties along the Red River in the Post Oak Savanna as well as along the Sabine River and tributaries in the Pineywoods, and in the Pineywoods in the Big Cypress Creek basin. Multiple mound sites of Caddo construction are best represented in the Red River basin from the Pineywoods to the Post Oak Savanna and on the north and south sides of the Sabine River in the Post Oak Savanna and Pineywoods biotic regions of the upper and mid-Sabine River basin. There are no known multiple mound sites in the Sulphur River basin, only a few widely separated multiple mound sites in the Neches and Angelina River basins, including one with a “fire temple,” and a series of multiple mound centers in the upper, mid- and lower Big Cypress Creek basins.
Differences in the character and distribution of Caddo sites with multiple mound (of varying functions and constructions) between the Red and Sabine River basin communities and those in the Big Cypress and Neches-Angelina drainage basins suggest that there were diverse socio-political communities and ritual practices among the ancestral Caddo between ca. A.D. 900-1690, with the more complex and possibly hierarchically ranked communities present primarily along the length and breadth of the Red and Sabine river basins in East Texas.
Twenty-four percent of the mound sites were constructed in Early Caddo times, 29 percent in Middle Caddo times, and 47 percent in Late Caddo period times. Early Caddo period (ca. A.D. 900-1250) mounds are most common in the Pineywoods or the Post Oak Savanna along the major streams. In the Middle Caddo period (ca. A.D. 1250-1440), earthen mounds are distributed in the main stream drainages, but are apparently most widely distributed in the Post Oak Savanna along the Red River, and along the western margins of the Pineywoods in the Sabine River basin. Middle Caddo multiple mound centers in these areas include perhaps the premier mound center at this time at the Jamestown site in the Sabine River basin. On the Red River, there is a significant multiple mound center at the T. M. Sanders site; one of the two mounds there is a platform that covered four levels of buried structures, and the other is a burial mound with single and multiple internments and an array of associated funerary objects, many of exotic origin.
The number of Caddo earthen mounds in East Texas increased by 60 percent from Middle Caddo to Late Caddo period times (ca. A.D. 1440-1690). The 37 known mounds dating to the Late Caddo period are best represented on the Red River and in the Pineywoods in the Big Cypress Creek and Sabine River basins. Along the Red River in East Texas the most important mound center and village community was at the ca. A.D. 1500-1691 Hatchel site occupied by a Nasoni Caddo community. The large 30 ft. tall primary platform had eight levels of buried and/or burned structures, often superimposed over one another. In the Pineywoods, earthen mounds of Late Caddo age were key parts of local Caddo communities that had dispersed mound centers, non-mound community cemeteries, and villages in the Big Cypress Creek and Sabine River basins. The mounds have buried and burned structures in their deposits, or had burned structures capped by mound sediments and some had a large shaft tomb dug through a burned structure, which was then capped with mound sediments. The 15th through 17th century Pine Tree Mound site is the most impressive of the Titus phase mounds known in East Texas, as the site has three mounds, a plaza, associated habitation areas, and at least one large community cemetery. Archaeological information indicates that the Caddo’s construction and use of earthen mounds for monumental structure platforms, as well as mounds that capped burned structures buried below mounds, and for burial mounds of elite personages, did not continue past ca. 1691.
Eric Oksanen (TAS Field School Principal Investigator), Tiffany Osburn (TAS Field School Committee Chair and Texas Historical Commission Archeologist), and Ron Ralph (TAS Field School Committee Member)
Texas Archeological Society Field School 2021 - Archeology on the Guadalupe
More information on the Field School and a link to registration can be found here.
Leila Character (UT-Austin)
Machine learning applications in geoarchaeology: Using remotely sensed imagery to model locations of archaeological features
This project entails creating a series of supervised machine learning models to predict the locations of archaeological features using remotely sensed imagery. The goal of this work is to bridge the gap between the field of machine learning pursued by computer scientists and the types of on-the-ground projects of interest to geoarchaeologists.
This project began in 2018 with the goal of creating a targeted method of finding cave entrances at Maya archaeological sites located in the dense tropical forests of Guatemala and Belize. In 2019, we used a random forest classifier, airborne laser scanning (ALS) data, and a training dataset of known caves to successfully identify several previously undocumented caves in northwestern Belize. Two of these caves contained archaeological materials. Building on this work, modeling has been expanded to include other types of hidden and obscured features that colleagues are interested in studying. These include ancient Maya archaeological features in Guatemala and Mexico, shipwrecks off the coast of the United States, and ancient burial mounds in Romania.
The models for the archaeological features take ALS, sonar, and multispectral imagery as input, are based on existing convolutional neural network architectures, and make use of transfer learning. These models can be used to create more accurate maps of archaeological features to aid management objectives, study patterns across the landscape, and find new features. Such models can easily be adjusted to identify other types of features and accept different types of imagery as input. This work seeks to make machine learning methods accessible to non-computer scientists interested in study, management, and conservation of archaeological heritage.
The project is being carried out with UT colleagues Tim Beach, Cody Schank, and Adam Rabinowitz, University of Arizona anthropologist Takeshi Inomata, and Agustin Ortiz Jr. of the Naval History and Heritage Command.
Beryl Cain Hughes (author)
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
We will approach Alibates from three directions. First from the historical, second, from the archaeological, and third from the cultural anthropological point of view. The archaeological will look at three reports in chronological order:
One: Archaeological Excavations of Antelope Creek Ruins and Alibates Ruins Panhandle Aspect, 1938-1941, Ele M. Baker, Jewel A. Baker, publisher Panhandle Archaeological Society, Publication Number Eight, 2000.
Two: Architecture and Community Variability Within the Antelope Creek Phase of the Texas Panhandle, Christopher Ray Lintz, 1986, Oklahoma Archaeological Survey: Studies in Oklahoma's Past, number 14.
Three: An Analysis of Quarrying Behavior at Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, Fritch, Texas. Thesis Presented to the Graduate Council of Texas State University-San Marcos in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts, by Ira Robert Wishoff, B.A., San Marcos, Texas, May, 2010.
Our view of Alibates has been seriously skewed from the beginning. Until recently it was thought of as being merely a hill where people from Antelope Creek or perhaps casual passersby stopped to pick up a piece of flint. It was long considered to be some combination of Plains Woodland and southwestern Pueblo cultures. Floyd Studer saw it as the mother culture of the Canadian River Valley, but in this respect his view has been largely ignored.
In viewing the petroglyphs, archaeologists routinely fail to notice the cupules. The oldest of all rock art, cupules are found on every continent except Antarctica, and in every age of man.
The site was declared Texas first, and until 2015 the State's only, National Monument in 1965.
Reign Clark (Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) Partners, LLC), Catrina Whitley (Bioarchaeology Support), and Ron Ralph (Consulting Archeologist)
Back to Bondage: The Story of the Sugarland 95
A cultural resources investigation within the James Reese Career and Technical Center in Sugar Land, Fort Bend County, Texas, was conducted by Goshawk Environmental Consulting, Inc. under principal investigator, Ron Ralph, beginning in October 2017. The project area was once part of the larger Central State Prison Farm owned by the State of Texas since 1908.
No human material was found during the monitoring phase. But on February 19, 2018, several bones were accidentally discovered by a construction worker. After determining they were human, the process to answer questions surrounding the origin of the bones began. It would in the end become the discovery of the largest unknown convict cemetery in the State of Texas.
Reign Clark, Project Manager, began mechanical scraping of the area to determine the cemetery edges until eventually 95 graves were discovered. Exhumation work began on 6 June 2018 under the guidance of Dr. Catrina Whitley, Bioarcheologist, and required over 85 days to complete.
Archeological work was completed in September 2018. Exhaustive laboratory analysis and archival research went into the compilation of a 500-page report of findings revealing the cemetery was connected to Bullhead Convict Labor Camp, a camp that operated there from circa 1875 to 1908. Reign Clark returned there to oversee the reinterment process of the “Sugar Land 95”, as they became locally known, in November 2019, where they now rest in their original graves.
DNA and isotope analysis as well as genealogical research continues today in the quest for locating descendants and to actually put names on markers at the Bullhead Convict Labor Camp Cemetery.
Jenny McWilliams (Texas Historical Commission)
Identify, Locate, and Record Lost Cemeteries
For the past several years, Jenny McWilliams has been identifying lost cemetery locations across the state. Now, with over 1,200 cemetery “vicinities” identified, she is invites researchers and archeologists to keep an eye out for physical evidence of these places and enlighten attendees on methods to record possible locations. This presentation will review previous research methods and modern technologies to help pinpoint these lost cemetery locations, with a focus on Travis County’s archeological resources.
John S. Harris (USDA, NRCS)
What to Look for in Site Vegetation: A Proposed Schema for Recognizing and Describing Anthropogenic Surface Vegetation at Archaeological Sites
Despite the popular use of “anthropogenic” in recent years to refer to soil, lithics, flora, and fauna as indicators of human activity, the term has evaded clear and constructive definition, resulting in surprisingly divergent ideas over what constitutes human “modification” or “influence,” leaving some traces of human activity to be noticed over others. While specialists in lithics, soils, faunal remains have all wrestled with recognizing the signs of human activity, yet the same cannot be said of site surface vegetation. Without conceptual cohesion, archaeologists risk overlooking the data potential of surface vegetation at archaeological sites by focusing on a few familiar aspects of anthropogenism to the exclusion of others. This discussion will identify the problem of definition and proposes a conceptual schema to reconcile diverse notions of what is “anthropogenic vegetation.” This will be done by drawing on formation process theory’s concept of trace categories and pragmatic semiotics’ referential and non-referential indices to frame anthropogenism as occurring both as innate (intrinsic) and contextual (extrinsic) sets of phenomena associated with humans. A brief description of each of these anthropogenic categories are then discussed, in hopes of guiding the archaeological gaze so future site records offer greater research value needed for “reading” what local site vegetation has to “say” on past human activities.
Doug Boyd (Cox|McLain Environmental Consulting)
Buried Bottle Garden Borders: Archeology and Oral History Investigations of a German Immigrant Tradition in Texas
In 2015 and 2016, a group of archeologists digging at the historic Frost Town site (41HR982) near downtown Houston discovered and investigated two unusual features consisting of rows of buried, upside-down bottles. The only other known archeological example was found in downtown Houston in the 1990s. All three of these “buried bottle alignments” date to the latter half of the nineteenth century and were located at households that were owned and occupied by first-generation German immigrants. The bottles reused in these alignments are ceramic ale bottles and glass bottles that once contained beer, wine, or liquor.
Limited history research and online archival searches conducted since 2015 reveal many examples of bottle borders used to outline flower beds and walkways at German immigrant and German American households in many parts of Texas. While this decorative tradition is strongly linked with German ancestry in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries, the use of buried bottle borders is documented for other groups, including African Americans in the twentieth century.
This program will look at the archeological examples of bottle borders, review the oral history evidence, and look at a few modern bottle garden borders reconstructed or maintained at public historic sites. The program will end with some speculative thoughts and an interactive discussion on why people created these buried bottle garden borders in the first place.
Heather Leonard (Avocational archeologist and educator)
Genomic Sequencing Used to Confirm the Sex of a Controversial Viking Burial
The Viking warrior in Burial Bj581 was thought to be a man when the grave was excavated 1889 near Birka, Sweden. A reexamination of the bones in 2013 indicated the individual was female, as did 2017 genetic testing. This talk discuses the myths and historical precedents for female warriors in Viking tradition, the osteological markers of male and female skeletons, the process of genetic sequencing from ancient DNA, and the conclusions drawn in the 2017 study and a 2019 paper that further explains the results.
Neal Stilley (Ancient skills technician and educator)
The Shumla Notch, a Lower Pecos Friction Fire Board
Neal's dedication to studying primitive living skills and helping to show them as educational tools is well known in many circles. As National Park Service Archeologist Jack Johnson attests, "He is not only a deft practitioner of traditional skills and an able teacher, he carries a first-hand knowledge of the archeological record and a joyful enthusiasm for learning, practicing, and sharing with others . . . . At the Shumla School Key 4 Program he used friction fire-starting lessons to illustrate science concepts and vocabulary (such as conduction, light, heat, friction, etc.) that reinforced lessons that the students were learning in the classroom. The fourth grades quickly dubbed him the 'Awesome Fire Dude.'"
Mark Denton (Texas Historical Commission, retired)
A Discussion of Water Cisterns in Texas
After 37 years of examining underground brick and stone water cisterns in Texas, I have discovered that it is possible to classify and date cisterns based on the manufacturing style, materials, structural shape, mortar, and plaster linings. In some cases, it is even possible to discern their cultural affiliation based on these attributes. The presentation will review the standardized elements of cisterns that allow for classification and the evolution of attributes that assist in assigning temporal ranges for cisterns.
Tom Williams (Gault School of Archaeological Research)
The Upper Paleolithic of Texas: The Early Human Occupation of the Gault Site
Excavations at the Gault Site, Central Texas, have recovered a significant assemblage of stone tools, referred to as the Gault Assemblage, from the lowest stratigraphic deposits. These earliest cultural materials were recovered from excavation Area 15 and include an early projectile point technology unique in the Upper Paleolithic of North America. Dating using Optically Stimulated Luminescence confirm the presence of humans in Texas before ~16,000 years ago. This talk will explore the age and use of this early technology and where it fits into the broader context of the early peopling of the New World.
Sergio Ayala Sitters (Gault School of Archaeological Research)
An Experimentally Supported Review of the Oldest Bifaces at the Gault site (41BL323), circa > 16,000 Years Ago cal BP
Lithic analysis of the Gault Assemblage bifaces from the Area 15 and Area 12 excavations provided a working set of reference parameters to conduct experimental productions. This presentation outlines the strategies and tool-implement techniques embedded in the Gault Assemblage biface morphologies (technological behaviors) and flake scar signatures to discern both social group and individual level production behaviors on stone. The principles behind the Gault Assemblage bifacial tool manufacturing will be presented, highlighting the cultural elements/traits that differ from the younger Clovis production behaviors. The relationships between material procurement, tool production, and tool type and function will be discussed.
Drew Sitters (Texas Historical Commission)
The Murrah Cave Collection: A Rockshelter in Val Verde County, Texas
In 1937, Dr. William Curry Holden, then professor at Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University), led an expedition south into Val Verde County, Texas, to excavate a pristine rockshelter known as Murrah Cave. Situated high above the Pecos River, Murrah Cave remained hidden from looters and the elements lending to its phenomenal preservation of perishable cultural remains. While Dr. Holden’s field records have been lost, the artifact collection provides valuable insight into the lives of site occupants dating from the Early Archaic through the Late Prehistoric period. Clay figurines, cactus spine fishhooks, and a leather loin cloth are just a few of the items recovered during the 1937 excavations. This presentation provides a glimpse into the Murrah Cave collection and offers possible avenues of research that, despite a lack of provenance, can still contribute to our understanding of prehistoric life in the Lower Pecos.
Members' Slide and Video Show
2019 Texas Archeological Society Field School, Palo Duro Canyon State Park
No meeting (Texas Archeological Society Field School)
Dr. Thomas R. Hester (UT-Austin, retired)
An Overview of a Stratified PaleoIndian Site in South Central Texas
This paper provides a preliminary overview of a stratified Paleoindian deposit at a site in south central Texas. The site was extensively dug by relic collectors in recent decades. These excavations focused on areas of artifact-rich Late Prehistoric and Archaic materials. However, in one part of the site, the deposits were ignored. Thanks to the work, observations, and photographs resulting from excavations by two collector-colleagues, a significant amount of new information has been obtained and is shared here. Their excavations have provided stratified data on Angostura, Scottsbluff, Golondrina, and St. Marys Hall occupations. Large numbers of these points types, accompanied by extensive lithic debris, preforms, manufacturing failures, unifaces and formal tools were found particularly in Golondrina and St. Mary’s Hall contexts. The interaction of professional and collector-colleagues provides one example of how we can approach the future of Texas archaeology, at a time when sites are being destroyed at a record pace.
Craig Mayer, archeologist
Vindolanda (A World Heritage Site in Northern England) - Overview and 2018 Excavations
Vindolanda is an important Roman military site several miles south of Hadrian's Wall in northern England. Vindolanda was established as one of a chain of forts along the Stanegate (the primary East-West track in that part of Britain) on the northern Roman frontier of the province of Britannia in the late 1st Century AD. Vindolanda predates the neighboring Hadrian's Wall military zone by 150 years.
The fort was occupied, razed by the army and abandoned, then reoccupied, rebuilt, re-razed and abandoned some nine times, in response to changes in Roman frontier policy and border protection strategies. Consequently, the site is somewhat of a "layer cake" of turf/wood and stone-built Roman forts, one built on top of the other from the time of the first fort's construction in the mid-70s AD until final abandonment by the army in the early 400s AD. Some of the excavation trenches in past seasons have been over 15-18 feet deep.
Upon abandonment, using the extensive, deep and broad military ditches that surrounded each fort as trash dumps, and because of the waterlogged, anaerobic nature of much of the material in these deep ditches (helped along by thick layers of clay being deposited over the remains of an earlier fort, to level the ground up by builders of a successor fort), remarkable artifacts (that would not normally survive) have been recovered from the site, including many personal and official letters and documents, as well as over 6,000 leather shoes and boots (men's, women's, and children's).
One of the most important personal documents is the earliest birthday invitation in existence, written partially by a scribe and partially by the hand of the wife (Claudia Severa) of the commandant of a nearby fort (Carvoran?) inviting the wife (Sulpicia Lepidina) of Vindolanda's commandant (Cerialis) to her birthday party on September 11, AD 99 (or AD 100).
Vindolanda is an extraordinary site, with a new five-year excavation program begun in April 2018. The new program will examine the Severan period ditches (AD 200-212) on the north side of the Severan fortlet and the dozens of mysterious small stone-built round houses built adjacent to the fortlet on the east.
This presentation provides an extensive overview of Vindolanda, its context on the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, the Roman Army and the troops who occupied the series of forts, and explores a range of artifacts recovered from the site. It also presents an overview of the 2018 excavations.
The site has such a rich and complex history, that this presentation is intended as Part I of a two-part series about Vindolanda. Part II takes an even deeper dive into this remarkable World Heritage Site and can be presented at a future time.
Harry J. Shafer, Ph.D. (Texas A&M, retired)
The Classic Mimbres Culture at the NAN Ranch Ruin: Known Facts and New Findings
This presentation is about the findings from several decades of research at the Classic Mimbres NAN Ranch Ruin in southwest New Mexico. The Classic Mimbres culture rose out of the regional Mogollon tradition and flourished for about A.D 940 to 1040. The Mimbres River valley had one of the highest populations in the American Southwest at that time. They left an artistic legacy of painted pottery and an architectural tradition that mimicked their layered universe cosmology. Questions have been raised as to who where the Mimbres people and where did they go? New findings have shed some light on these and other issues such as where the pottery was being made and its implications, explaining their unique mortuary tradition, recent evidence of brewing, and more.
Andrew Malof, Lower Colorado River Authority
Analysis of Paired Special Samples from the Escondido Creek Valley, Karnes County
Following a cultural resources survey of LCRA’s proposed T-577 transmission line rebuild project, located in eastern Karnes and western DeWitt counties, LCRA proposed additional survey-level testing for two prehistoric archaeological sites, 41KA209 and 41KA210. The sites are located on either side of Escondido Creek, a left bank tributary of the San Antonio River. The sites were considered to be of unknown status for State Archeological Landmark eligibility, and were similar stratigraphically. In both cases, survey-level subsurface testing went through clay loams with minimal cultural material before encountering pale silts, also with minimal cultural material but a marked increase in Rabdotus and other snail shell, suggesting a possible stable landform marked by a stratigraphic unconformity.
Among the materials encountered at 41KA209 was a small quantity of burned sandstone with apparent organic residue, or rind. A small amount was opportunistically collected from between depths of 150 and 180 cm below ground surface. At 41KA210, a sample of six Rabdotus species shell was opportunistically collected from between 70 and 130 cm below ground surface.
In order to better determine the eligibility potential for the two sites, LCRA proposed special sample studies on the two collections. The burned sandstone would be directly dated under the assumption that it indeed had organic residue. The snails would be seriated using amino acid racemization methods to determine degree of deposit mixing, and to aid in a selection of shell for direct radiocarbon dating. Two shells were subsampled and analyzed for amino acid racemization to test for variability in relative age across a single shell and differential rates of old carbon ingestion by the organism.
The results of the paired sampling were compared for accuracy and precision to aid in determining SAL status. It was hoped a local correction actor for snail shell might be established, and that a better understanding of local formation processes could be attained.
Ron Ralph, TAS Field School Committee
The 2019 Texas Archeological Society Field School at Palo Duro Canyon
The Llano Uplift Archeological Society -- Jim Wukasch (LUAS President), Buddy Whitley (Texas Archeological Stewardship Network, LUAS), Pat Hatten (LUAS), Doris Howard (TASN, LUAS), and Chuck Hixson (LUAS)
History and Archaeology at the Baker Site (41SS192) on the San Saba River at Sloan, Texas
Baker is located in the general vicinity where in 1847 German settlers of the Aldelsverein signed a treaty with southern Comanche groups. LUAS is investigating an earlier use of the site, specifically a Late Prehistoric/early historic Native American camping area spread out between the river and what was once a spring-fed lake. We are attempting to map the horizontal extent of the Toyah occupation using shovel tests and isolated test units. At this point in the investigation we know the Toyah component covers twelve acres with the potential for being much larger. In addition, we have opened excavation blocks in two areas with concentrations of Caddo ceramics.
Elton R. Prewitt, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory
Comments on Painted Pebbles from Southwest Texas
Small painted stones found in dry rockshelters throughout the Lower Pecos Canyonlands have intrigued avocational and professional archeologists for nearly a century. Traditionally interpreted as ritual objects, they often are attributed to women's roles in increase rituals involving fertility and water abundance, with specific motifs linked to natural phenomena relating to life cycles. Post-painting breakage of painted pebbles is common. Once they were used for their intended purposes, they apparently no longer were sacred and were returned to secular use as mundane tools. Many pebbles, whether whole or broken, display pitting and scratching suggestive of knapping tools.
In this talk I discuss the history of pebble investigations, the previously defined styles of painted pebbles and their variability through time. I explore the differences in painting techniques, the colors used, and the kinds of stones selected in the sample of over 700 specimens currently under analysis. Some of the problems encountered during analysis of painted pebbles are reviewed, including preservation and post-excavation/collection treatment. Some of the component elements observed and their variation in placement are described. While interpretations of the meaning of the painted images are far from being identified, a few suggestions for avenues of research are provided.
My collaborators on this project are Dr. Jean Clottes of Foix, France and Dr. Carolyn Boyd of Galveston who holds the Shumla Endowed Professorship at Texas State University in San Marcos.
Drew Sitters, Terrestrial Archeologist, Texas Historical Commission
Jowell Knives of East Texas
Jowell knives are a rare lithic stone tool found among historic Caddo burials in East Texas. With only three known sites producing such artifacts, there is little known about their use within Caddoan society. Ongoing research aims to explore their function and reevaluate their classification as knives.
Christopher Ringstaff, Staff Archeologist, Texas Department of Transportation
Prehistoric Flintknapping Tools of Texas: Examining Indirect Percussion Technique through Experimental Archeology
As an experimental archeologist, my curiosity of prehistoric flintknapping methods has led to recent collections and literature review of prehistoric flintknapping implements. Initial findings of this review revealed a number of antler artifacts believed to be used for indirect percussion referenced as punches, antler cylinders, and drifts. This paper provides an overview of these implements from various sites and contexts across the state. The artifacts examined in this study were used to design replicas for subsequent flintknapping experimentation. A summary of these experiments is presented to discuss function, technique and ergonomics, comparative use-wear, manufacturing results, and debitage.
Members' Slide Show and Video Night: Texas Archeological Society Field School Investigations at Mission San Lorenzo de la Cruz, Real County, Texas
Caitlin Gulihur, Project Archeologist at Terracon
Rockshelters and Settlement Patterns in Eastern Brewster County, Texas
In 2014, roughly 1,000 acres of land were surveyed in eastern Brewster County, Texas to determine how rockshelters might affect prehistoric settlement patterns. As fixed geological resources, rockshelters attracted prehistoric populations, and this study was undertaken to determine how locations of prehistoric open sites – lithic procurement sites, lithic scatters, and open campsites – might be influenced by the presence or absence of rockshelters. The information gained from this study was then compared to a nearby survey of Bear Creek, where William Marmaduke recorded 111 prehistoric sites in the 1970s. This presentation focuses on the 2014 survey methods, as well as the analysis methods used to determine how rockshelters might have affected the prehistoric settlement patterns of the Big Bend region of Texas.
Chris Lintz, Research Archeologist, Texas State University and Texas Parks and Wildlife (retired)
The movement and interaction of Alibates flint and Ceramics during the Middle Ceramic Period in Southern Plains
Common perception that most Alibates agate was quarried by Antelope Creek Phase people for trade with New Mexican Puebloans is not supported by the low frequencies of Alibates tools and debris in the Southwest relative to ca. 70% quantities of Alibates remains from the Bluff Creek, Pratt and Wilmore Complexes in south-central Kansas. Ceramic studies suggest that decorative motifs in Antelope Creek overlap cordmarked decorations from these Southern Kansas complexes. Recent petrography and neutron activation analysis of ceramic pastes across the Texas panhandle show that large sites near the Alibates quarries have the least paste variability, whereas sites in the Oklahoma panhandle and the Buried City Complex show the greatest paste diversity. This evidence, and the occurrence of substantially larger house sizes, suggests that the Buried City Complex may represent rendezvous and gateway locality for facilitating the exchange Alibates while keeping foreign southern Plains traders away from the Alibates outcrops.
Elton Prewitt, Prewitt and Associates (retired)
An Inventory of the TARL Point Type Collections: Why Is It Important?
The projectile points housed in the TARL type collections are an underutilized resource for archeologists researching Texas' prehistory. All too often our colleagues rely upon photos and drawings of varying quality that are found in technical reports and identification guidebooks. Even worse, some use the online web pages of various collector groups where typological assignments quite often are nothing short of abysmal.
In my early days as an archeologist I was privileged to have access to the original type collections assembled by Alex Krieger, Dee Ann Story and Ed Jelks. We were encouraged to consult those collections as part of our analysis during ongoing projects. Several years ago, I began a review of the type specimens to see how complete the collections might be. Apart from items removed in compliance with NAGPRA, I was appalled by what I found – some items were simply missing, and others were obviously placed in the wrong group, while yet others were added to groups with which they did not match.
In 2017 I began a detailed inventory and documentation of the type collections in an effort to assess their accuracy and completeness. The process includes creating scanned images of the collections, relating each item to the illustrations in the 1954 Handbook and the subsequent 1962 Handbook, and creating a spreadsheet where all the information is documented. In this talk I describe the process I use in this ongoing project and discuss how the type collections might be presented to and utilized by researchers in the future.
Bradford Jones, Texas Historical Commission Archeology Division
Stone Age Peoples of Texas – AD 1554 – 1726
For many people, the use of stone tools is the hallmark of primitive peoples. In the Americas, this thinking plays out in popular histories emphasizing the role of steel in the European conquest of the indigenous empires and nomadic bands, for whom stone tools played a predominant role as weapons of war and in everyday life. In Texas archaeology, this mindset can manifest itself as the oversimplification of stone tools as a peculiarly Native American tradition. In this presentation, I use the archaeology and history of the Texas, and particularly the south Texas coast, to look at the role of stone tools in the lives of both the indigenous and European communities. Far from representing material culture from exclusive worlds, stone tools provide an opportunity to break down static notions of indigenous and European identity and reveal the unexpected richness and complexity of human experience that archaeology can uncover.
Lila Rakoczy, Texas Historical Commission military sites coordinator
"Destructionology”: A Forensic Approach to Castle Destruction in the English Civil War, aka How to Destroy a Castle, With or Without Gunpowder
The “slighting” of enemy fortifications is a subject that continues to fall outside the confines of traditional battlefield archaeology. In particular, our understanding of castle destruction in the English Civil War largely derives from a historical narrative that says castles were “blown up” for pragmatic military reasons. This near dogma in the British post-medieval archaeology community is not based on any systematic analysis of castle ruins, nor does it consider the variety of factors that were instrumental in instigating, guiding, and halting the destruction of high-status buildings. This talk will argue that such destructive acts can (and should!) be archaeologically identified and recorded, and that understanding these processes provides insight into an overlooked but significant aspect of warfare.
The Norse Viking Settlement of Southwest Scotland
Dr. Mayer, whose dissertation topic was Vikings and Viking archeology, will explore the Viking world, emphasizing the reasons for their expansion and their impact on the economy, culture, politics, genetics, and linguistics of the British Isles. Settlement patterns in the modern-day county of Dumfries and Galloway will be used to illuminate broader trends in Viking history.
A Caddo Village on the Verge of the Historic Contact Period: Archeological Data Recovery at A.S. Mann (41AN201) Site in the Upper Neches River Valley, Anderson County
In advance of a planned highway project, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently relocated a Caddo site that was first recorded about 80 years earlier and then lost to archeologist. Under contract to TxDOT, Coastal Environments, Inc., conducted archeological data recovery to mitigate the A. S. Mann Site, within the highway right of way between May 2015 and July 2016. Preliminarily, the site appears to represent a portion of a village that was occupied by high status families associated with a much larger Caddo Community. The main occupation appears to date to the late portion of the Frankston Phase (AD 1480 – 1650) and into the early Allen Phase (AD 1650 – 1680). The investigations reveal evidence of extensive prehistoric trade networks and potential early contact and conflict with Europeans. The investigators also found large numbers of ceramic vessels and stone tools, many of which appear to be ceremonial in function.
New Analyses of Cultural Materials from the WPA Excavations at the Rob Roy Site, Travis County, Texas
In late 1938 and early 1939, the University of Texas utilized Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds to conduct large-scale excavations at the Rob Roy Site (41TV41) for the proposed Miller Reservoir (now called Lake Austin) project on the Colorado River in western Travis County, Texas. Excavations to depths of 32 feet below ground surface revealed buried, stratified prehistoric deposits within alluvial deposits on the south bank of the river. The excavations yielded large numbers of artifacts and evidences of components that date from the Late Prehistoric to the Early Archaic periods. An unpublished field report and a brief journal article were written shortly after the completion of fieldwork.
My current analyses of the Rob Roy materials housed at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory has the benefit of the subsequent decades of advancements in Central Texas archeology. My review indicates that many significant aspects of the prehistoric occupation of the site were not recognized at the time of the excavations. My presentation will focus on my analyses of a Late Archaic I component containing 21 burned rock features that are associated with diagnostic Marshall type dart points (n=9) and numerous bison bones. The features and artifact categories associated with this component will be described. Additionally, the importance of this component in the Late Archaic Period bison abundance model will be discussed.
Trajectories in Ghanaian Archeology
2017 Texas Archeological Society Field School Investigations at the Mission San Lorenzo de la Cruz, Real County, Texas
No meeting -- Texas Archeological Society Field School
Recent Archaeological Investigations at the Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo)
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Field School Round-Up
The 2016 Texas Archeological Society Field School at the Tait Ranch, Tait House, and San Felipe de Austin
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.
Plans and Prospects for the 2016 Texas Archeological Society Field School, Columbus, Texas
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No meeting - TAS Field School
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
No meeting; Texas Archeological Society Field School
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Members' Slide Show
2012 Texas Archeological Society Field School at Devils River
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.
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.
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!
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."
Update on Excavations at the Joyful Horse site (41BP691)
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."
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.
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.
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.
Members' Slide Show
The 2011 Texas Archeological Society Field School
Rachel Feit, Ecological Communications Corporation
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.
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.
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".
The Gault Site
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Members' Slide Show
The 2010 Texas Archeological Society Field School
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.
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.
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.
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 . . . .
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.
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.
Ron Ralph, Cave Archeologist and retired TPWD Archeologist
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Members' update on TAS Field School.
No meeting. Texas Archeological Society excavations near Perryton, Texas.
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.
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.
Dr. George Staff, Professor and Department Head, Environmental Science and Technology, Austin Community College
Mariah F. Wade, Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin
Missions for Hunter-Gatherers: Successes and Failures
Billy Atkins, City of Austin Office of Emergency Management
The 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic in Austin
Elizabeth Pintar, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Austin Community College
Archaeological Investigations at Salamanca Cave in the South Central Andes
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.
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.
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.
Members' update on TAS Field School.
No meeting. Texas Archeological Society excavations at Presidio San Saba, Menard, Texas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nick Morgan (Texas Archeological Stewardship Network) The Joyful Horse Site (41BP691)
Joanne Carpenter (Red River Project) Raising the Heroine
Kark Kibler (Prewitt and Associates) Data Recovery Investigations at the Higginbotham Site (41ML195): A Late Archaic Site on the North Bosque River
Joseph Carter (UT) The Chersonesos Project, 1992-2006
Jay Banner (UT) Cave Deposits as Paleo-Environmental Records: Problems and Prospects
Paris in the Spring: Our Adventures at the 2006 TAS Field School. Program led by Carolyn Spock, TAS President.
No Meeting. Texas Archeological Society Field School near Paris, Texas.
Constanze Witt (UT) Hard-Drinking Celtic Women
Dan Prikryl (LCRA) The Lower Colorado River Authority's Cultural Resource Program
Alan Skinner (AR Consultants) The Past and Future of the 2006 TAS Exploration of the Stallings Site
Video presentation: Spadework for History with Mott Davis, episodes IV:The Desert and VI:Salvaging Texas Prehistory
Sean R. Nash (UT) 41CM1: Data from the 1963 TAS Field School