Texas Archeological Research Laboratory

Studies in Archeology

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Vernon, Carol R.

1989 The Prehistoric Skeletal Remains from the Crestmont Site, Wharton County, Texas

On February 1, 1981, a utility company crew using a mechanical trencher in a new subdivision in the southeastern Texas town of Wharton unearthed some human bones and artifacts. The workmen notified a local member of the Houston Archeological Society (HAS) who, after inspecting the bones, reported the find to the Texas Historical Commission. Subsequently, students and faculty volunteers from The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin), The University of Texas at San Antonio, and Texas A & M University joined members of the HAS in testing and excavating this small prehistoric cemetery, designated 41WH39 and named the Crestmont site. Margaret Kluge, then a graduate student at UT-Austin, supervised the fieldwork. Between February 1981 and the spring of 1982, skeletal remains representing 31 individuals and their associated grave goods were excavated and brought to the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) at UT-Austin for preliminary processing. The human bones were not completely processed and studied until the fall of 1981 when, as a graduate student in anthropology at UT-Austin, Carol Vernon undertook their analysis as a course research project. This paper is an outgrowth of that project.

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Nightengale, Bruce A., William A. Cloud, Henry B. Moncure, David G. Robinson, and Solveig A. Turpin

1988 Intensive Survey of Cultural Resources in the Extended San Miguel Prospect, Atascosa and McMullen Counties, Texas

An intensive cultural resource survey of the extended San Miguel Prospect, a 5.583 acre tract in Atascosa and McMullen counties, was carried out by the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin, for the San Miguel Electric Cooperative in the summer of 1985. Forty-one prehistoric sites were recorded. The reassessment of ten known sites resulted in the combination of three under one number, 41MC106, and identification of one historic component (41MC102) that met recording criteria. The latter is the now-destroyed home of Frank Burmeister, German immigrant and later State Representative. Information provided by descendants has permitted a reconstruction of family history, ranch layout and activities that compensates for the poor condition of the archeological remains.

The distribution of prehistoric occupation across physiographic zones and by site type follows the model derived by Shafer and Baxter from their initial San Miguel survey in 1974. The Prospect sites are generally highly disturbed by erosion, modern land use and soil dynamics. Despite the overall poverty of intact cultural residues, 21 of the Prospect sites may yield some additional information pertinent to later research into South Texas settlement. Data recovery is recommended for those sites if they are to be affected by mine enlargement.

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Nightengale, Bruce A., Cheryl Lynn Highley, and S. Christopher Caran

1989 Continuing Cultural Resource Assessments in the San Miguel Prospect, 1988 Season, Atascosa and McMullen Counties, Texas

From February through May, 1988, the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin, conducted limited testing of eight prehistoric campsites in the Extended San Miguel Prospect, Atascosa and McMullen counties, Texas, for Morrison-Knudsen Company, Inc., agents for the San Miguel Electric Co-op. All eight sites were systematically surface-collected; test units were hand-excavated at two sites; and deeper sediments were backhoed at three sites. Geomorphic analyses assessed the potential for buried sites within the prospect and the specific stratigraphy of 41MC362 and 41MC363. The majority of the recovered artifacts were lithic tools and debitage which were analyzed following the typological and chronological framework developed during the nearby Choke Canyon Reservoir studies. The distribution of features and artifacts were examined through computer-generated maps to isolate specific activity loci. Although the results were rendered inconclusive by the shallowness of the cultural deposits, extreme erosion and modern land use, the software programs written for this project hold great promise for future distributional studies. The large inventory of provenienced artifacts and features recovered by this project has achieved a representative sample of the regional material culture. A protective buffer was established around site 41MC362 pending a decision by regulatory agencies regarding its National Register of Historic Places eligibility.

Additional archival research and informant interviews were conducted to further develop the history of the Maspero ranchstead, an extant house and outbuildings built on prehistoric site 41MC364. The currently occupied structures date from the 1950s. An older twentieth-century tenant house and shed had been razed to make room for evolution of the modern complex and the archeological deposits are considered too severely disturbed to yield meaningful information.

In addition to site testing and historic research, an 800-acre tract was surveyed in anticipation of the construction of mine auxiliary facilities. Ten prehistoric sites were recorded and the boundaries of three known sites were expanded. Site types and locations mirror the pattern established by earlier surveys in the prospect. A buried feature at one site, 41MC379, demonstrated the potential for some stratigraphic integrity and preservation of organic materials. Additional testing of the deeper deposits was recommended if future mine development includes disturbance to 41MC379.

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Utley, Dan K., Anne A. Fox, and Gem Mehalchick

1990 Going Down That Road: Historic Archeology in Tidwell Prairie, Robertson County, Texas

Following cultural resource surveys conducted as part of planning and formal application for development of the Calvert Mine, a lignite operation in northwestern Robertson County, it was determined that measures should be taken to mitigate the proposed loss of one historic site, 41RT260, and to assess the potential eligibility of six additional properties for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

In January, 1989, the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin, submitted a comprehensive plan for the scope of work that would be required. The following month, a field crew began implementing the plan, which involved archeological testing, oral history interviews, archival research, artifact analysis, photodocumentation, and, for 41RT260, measured architectural drawings conforming to standards of the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) program. All work was conducted in consultation with the staff of the Texas Historical Commission, the state’s historic preservation office.

The mitigative phase of the intensive research plan resulted in an appropriate and successful treatment of 41RT360, the Weaver-Rushing house. Located near the center of a dispersed rural community known as Tidwell Prairie, the house and surrounding farmstead reflect the settlement’s period of significance, from the late nineteenth century to the 1940s. Field notes, original architectural drawings, and additional documentation are on file at the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory. In addition, HABS-quality architectural drawings were provided to the architecture departments at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A & M University.

The six sites slated for additional testing and research represent former dwellings also associated with Tidwell Prairie. A combination of oral history, archival research, mapping and photodocumentation, and subsurface probes provided information on site layout, function, and history. The research potential of five sites, 41RT251, 41RT252, 41RT258, 41RT261, and 41RT271, was fully exploited by this program and none meet criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The sixth site, 41RT254, the Ed Okonski site, is an intact example of the development of a rural farmstead in Robertson County and is eligible for listing on the basis of its architecture and layout. The site is privately owned and operated, and will not be affected under current mining plans, so no further work is warranted at this time.

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Thurmond, J. Peter

1990 Archeology of the Cypress Creek Drainage Basin, Northeastern Texas and Northwestern Louisiana

This report is a synthesis of the available data relevant to the prehistoric archeology of the Cypress Creek drainage basin in northeast Texas and northwest Louisiana. Summaries of the natural environment and the history of archeological investigation within the study area are provided. The sources of information consulted are stated, and the methods of data collection and organization employed are described. Four hundred seventy-eight Cypress basin archeological sites on record at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory and/or described in previous publications are reviewed in tabular format. The following data are provided on a site-specific basis: site designations, history of investigation, published references, position within the hydrologic structure of the basin, topographic position, surface area, associated artifacts and features, chronological and functional interpretations of the components present, and last known condition. Fifty-seven of the better documented sites are then described in detail. The frequencies and distributions of the components of different settings and periods are summarized. Certain problems of Caddoan chronology, social group identification and social organization, prehistoric demography and cultural resource management are reviewed.

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Collins, Michael B., Bruce Ellis, and Cathy Dodt-Ellis

1990 Excavations at Camp Pearl Wheat (41KR243), An Early Archaic Campsite on Town Creek, Kerr County, Texas

Excavations at the Camp Pearl Wheat site (41KR243) in north central Kerr County during the spring of 1989 were conducted under the auspices of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL), as contracted with the Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation (SDHPT). The site is in an upland setting adjacent to Town Creek, a small tributary of the Guadalupe River. Investigations concentrated on a discrete early Archaic component (Jarrell Interval) reflecting a brief utilization of the locality by a small group of people.

The major activity directly represented by the surviving evidence was cooking of meat and possibly plant foods in open hearths and small earth ovens. Hunting is inferred from these findings and the several dart points recovered. Organic residues on stone tools suggest that plant resources were also processed, but it is not clear whether these were foods, nonfood artifacts, or both.

In central Texas, especially on the western Edwards Plateau, at the time of this occupation the environment is postulated as having recently readjusted from extensive changes brought about by climatic swings from the late Pleistocene to an early episode of the Altithermal and back to a brief period of relatively mesic conditions. Jarrell Interval cultural ecology is interpreted as a response to these conditions; a generalized rather than specialized adaptation is indicated.

Archeological research strategies and systematics must be improved in order to advance conceptually as well as empirically toward fuller understanding of the local prehistoric record.

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Sobolik, Kristin D.

1991 Prehistoric Diet and Subsistence in the Lower Pecos, as Reflected in Coprolites from Baker Cave, Val Verde County, Texas

The lower Pecos area of southwestern Texas is known for rockshelters that have excellently preserved archeological material. This study is a paleoethnobotanical analysis conducted to determine the subsistence and diet of a group of hunter-gatherers that inhabited Baker Cave in Val Verde County at approximately A.D. 900. The analysis is centered on the micro- and macro-remains recovered from 38 coprolites (desiccated human feces) excavated from a latrine area near the front of the limestone rockshelter. Changes in prehistoric diet through time in the lower Pecos region are explored by using information from other coprolite studies from the area, comparing aspects of the parasitological study and a nutritional analysis of the contents of the coprolites.

Based upon the coprolites, Baker Cave inhabitants were documented to be using mainly prickly pear cactus, onion bulbs and fiber, fish, and rodents in their diets. The flowers or seeds from Brassicaceae (mustard), sagebrush, and grass were probably eaten as well. An increase in the diversity of the diet is observed as compared to that of earlier lower Pecos area studies. The Baker Cave occupants were using what was available in their environment to maintain a relatively stable, healthy population.

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Turpin, Solveig A., editor

1991 Papers on Lower Pecos Prehistory

The papers in this volume draw upon information generated by excavations, old and new, in the lower Pecos River region of Texas. The first chapter, contributed by the editor, summarizes the radiocarbon sequence and proposed cultural chronologies of the region. Chapter 2, Leland C. Bement’s statistical study of Middle Archaic dart points recovered from radiocarbon-dated strata at Arenosa Shelter, concludes that the differences between recognized variants with the Langtry-Val Verde categories merit the establishment of a third type, Arenosa, to accommodate the contracting stem variety. In the third chapter, Jay Peck analyzes the projectile points recovered from Fate Bell Shelter during the 1930s University of Texas excavations and compares them to other lower Pecos rockshelter assemblages.

In Chapter 4, Kenneth M. Brown discusses theoretical approaches to the analysis of prehistoric economics at Baker Cave, a site excavated most recently by The University of Texas at San Antonio and the Witte Museum. He introduces a number of models that have been applied to hunters and gatherers in other parts of the world and considers their potential contribution to lower Pecos studies. In Chapter 5, Roberta McGregor describes one aspect of the fiber industry, the late introduction of twined and threaded mats into this region. Joseph F. Powell’s analysis of human skeletal remains from Skyline Shelter on the Devils River is detailed in Chapter 6. Stable carbon isotope analyses of skeletal material from Skyline and Conejo shelters is the subject of Chapter 7 by Jeffery A. Huebner. The concluding paper, by Thomas R. Hester, Frank Asaro, Fred Stross, Anne C. Kerr, and Robert D. Giauque, presents the results of trace element analysis of obsidian flakes from Arenosa Shelter, demonstrating the introduction of exotic materials during the Late Archaic period.

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Huebner, Jeffery A., and Anthony G. Comuzzie

1992 The Archeology and Bioarcheology of Blue Bayou: A Late Archaic and Late Prehistoric Mortuary Locality in Victoria, Texas

Blue Bayou (41VT94) is a prehistoric cemetery site located on the E. I. DuPont chemical plant property approximately seven miles south of the city of Victoria, near the confluence of Blue Bayou and the Guadalupe River. When road construction for a new plant entrance was delayed by the rediscovery of a circa 1940 Tenneco pipeline, the subsequent erosion in the construction area due to the removal of topsoil exposed two human burials. Excavations at the site were carried out during two field seasons in 1982 and 1983. A total of 30 human burial features and six badly mixed human bone masses were excavated over the course of two field seasons. Forty-six individuals were represented in these 35 features, and seven other unexcavated individuals were identified in the test pit operation, for a total known site population of 53 individuals of both sexes and all ages. Blue Bayou is, at present, one of the larger hunter-gatherer mortuaries in the central coastal plain.

The project was run by a group of avocational archeologists with the financial and technical support of both the business and academic communities. A number of local citizens and personnel from the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR), The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) turned out to help with the excavation.

Based on the materials from these excavations, two M.A. theses were prepared to report the results. The first, on the bioarcheology of the site, was completed in 1987 by Anthony G. Comuzzie at Texas A&M University. The second, on the archeology of the site, was completed in 1988 by Jeffery A. Huebner at The University of Texas at Austin. The primary goals of these two studies were to fully describe and analyze the recovered human and cultural remains in their contextual setting and to compare the findings to similar sites and mortuary populations in nearby regions. This report is a compendium of the two theses.

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Turner, Robert L., Jr.

1992 Prehistoric Mortuary Remains at the Tuck Carpenter Site, Camp County, Texas

In 1978 "The Tuck Carpenter Site and Its Relation to Other Sites Within the Titus Focus," by Robert L. Turner, Jr., was published in Volume 49 of the Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society. The site was a cemetery of the Titus Focus people in Camp County, northeast Texas. In his article, the contents of each of the 44 graves excavated were listed, but because of space limitations, the drawings of only four graves were included.

This TARL report publishes all of Turner’s drawings of the graves of the Tuck Carpenter site. With the very kind permission of the Texas Archeological Society, an adaptation of the original introductory text and grave descriptions from the 1978 article accompanies these drawings. In addition, the appendix in this volume presents the previously unpublished results of a physical anthropological analysis of the human skeletal remains conducted by Barbara Jackson at TARL in 1985. Researchers should consult both sources, because in some cases Jackson’s sex identifications differ from those reported in the 1978 paper. Together, this publication and the 1978 article from the Bulletin will make readily available the important information from the site.

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Kotter, Steven M., Patience E. Patterson, Dan K. Utley, and Henry B. Moncure

1991 Final Report of Cultural Resource Investigations at the Cummins Creek Mine, Fayette County, Texas

In anticipation of development of the Cummins Creek Lignite Mine in Fayette County, Texas, the Lower Colorado River Authority sponsored a broad cultural resource program that included large area surveys, site testing, historical research, and the preparation of a mine management plan, all accomplished by the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin. In January 1986, the decision to abandon mining plans caused immediate cessation of all field work. A number of interim documents reporting specific aspects of the cultural resource assessment were in review and analyses of other site investigations were still in progress at that time. This volume combines the results of the ongoing field work and analyses, and the previously unpublished interim reports to conclude the publication series on the Cummins Creek Mine.

Intensive survey of a proposed Overland Conveyor route produced four prehistoric and five historic site recordings. One of the prehistoric sites, 41FY442, was tested and three historic sites were further investigated by subsurface tests, archival research, and informant interviews. Survey of a segment of the Winchester to Salem transmission line, scheduled for rerouting, resulted in a recommendation for further work at known sites 41FY327 and 41FY336, and newly recorded 41FY457. Only 41FY336 had been tested prior to the cessation of field work. The final small area survey along a proposed reroute of county roads 112 and 114 in the hamlet of Waldeck resulted in Texas Historical Commission mandated testing of four totally demolished historic structures: a gin, a smithy, a school, and a house.

The testing of three historic sites in the Overland Conveyor Corridor, four in the Waldeck community, and one isolated tenant house is reported in Section 3. None of these sites merit National Register of Historic Places status as entities, but all contribute information about early lifeways in Fayette County. The bulk of the relevant data was acquired through archival research and informant interviews; the contribution of subsurface testing was negligible except in the case of 41FY413, the tenant house.

Section 4 details the results of testing at four of the ten prehistoric sites that were scheduled for field investigation in 1985-1986: 41FY264, 41FY336, 41FY362, and 41FY442. Additional data collection at 41FY362 was in progress when the project was terminated, leaving the site only partially excavated. Testing of the other three was completed and no further work was recommended. Although a mine management plan is in place and a National Register of Historic Places District established for the Cummins Creek mine, all work accomplished to date and all recommendations for further investigation will require reevaluation if and when mine development resumes.

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Ricklis, Robert A., Michael D. Blum, and Michael B. Collins

1991 Archeological Testing at the Vera Daniel Site (41TV1364), Zilker Park, Austin, Texas

Archeological testing of the Vera [Vara] Daniel Site (41TV1364) in Zilker Park, City of Austin, Texas, by the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin, in the summer of 1989 established the presence of cultural materials stratified in deep alluvial and colluvial valley fill deposits. The cultural vestiges derive from the Paleoindian and Archaic periods of the regional archeological record. Radiocarbon ages of the geologic deposits hosting these cultural remains span the period from 11,000 to 500 years ago. The site is deemed to be significant with considerable potential to contribute to scientific knowledge about the prehistoric inhabitants of the area.

The area of the site tested falls within the right-of-way of the proposed South Austin Outfall Interceptor Main, a wastewater line. Construction of this line as planned would destroy a large volume of the site and result in loss of valuable archeological data. It is therefore recommended that construction plans be altered to eliminate or greatly reduce the impact to this site. If this cannot be achieved, then mitigation of the impact by archeological excavation in a portion of the area to be disturbed by construction is recommended.

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Hester, Thomas R., editor

1991, 1994 The Burned Rock Middens of Texas: An Archeological Symposium

The papers published in this volume were presented in a symposium held at the April 15, 1988 meeting of the Council of Texas Archeologists. The symposium, "Studying Burned Rock Middens in the 1980s," was designed to examine the history of burned rock midden (BRM) investigations, to review current interpretations, and to discuss future research objectives. Burned rock middens largely of Archaic age occur at sites across central and western Texas. They have been investigated for more than 80 years (and known for nearly 150 years), yet they remain largely enigmatic features in terms of archeological interpretation. The 1988 symposium participants brought a variety of perspectives to BRM studies. Papers were presented by Michael B. Collins (reviews a number of avenues of BRM research), Elton R. Prewitt (traces the trends, themes, and personalities reflected in BRM archeology, beginning with the early work of J. E. Pearce and continuing to the late 1980s), Darrell G. Creel (summarized a large body of data from west central Texas that suggests a correlation of BRMs and the distribution of oak savanna during the Archaic), Margaret A. Howard (presents a comprehensive list of archeological studies at more than 200 BRM sites in Texas, maps the geographic extent of excavated sites, examines the role of hearths in BRM structure, and summarizes the types of botanical remains that have been recovered from BRMs), Glenn T. Goode (presents the results of BRM excavations done in the 1980s under the auspices of the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation), and Duane E. Peter (unable to submit a manuscript for this report; for details of his research in the Williamson County area of central Texas, see his 1982 work "Alternative Perspectives on Burned Rock Middens" in Archeological Investigations at the San Gabriel Reservoir Districts, Central Texas, Vol. 2, edited by T. R. Hayes, pp. 20-1 to 20-15, published by the Archaeology Program, Institute of Applied Sciences, North Texas State University, Denton).

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Robinson, David G., and Solveig A. Turpin

1993 Hunter-Gatherer Mobility and Settlement in the Brazos Uplands: Archeology in the Calvert Mine, Robertson County, East-Central Texas

In 1992, Walnut Creek Mining Company and its agent, Morrison Knudsen Corporation, sponsored three tasks as part of its continuing cultural resource program in the Calvert Mine. The Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin, conducted 1) eligibility testing of prehistoric campsite 41RT288, 2) full excavations at 41RT267, a Late Prehistoric and Late Archaic hunting camp in the uplands of Walnut Creek, and 3) intensive documentation of National Register of Historic Places farmsteads 41RT93 and 41RT302. All work was conducted in accordance with a Programmatic Agreement between Walnut Creek Mining Company, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Historical Commission, and the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation. The dispersed, sparse, and monotonous character of the artifact assemblage at 41RT288, and the absence of intact features and buried deposits, indicated a low information content not meeting National Register criteria. Excavations at 41RT267 expanded upon the findings of a testing program carried out in 1986 by opening large blocks around burned rock features buried at depths dating to the Late Prehistoric occupation of the site. A Late Archaic component was identified and sampled for comparisons of site function over time. The hypothesis that 41RT267 was a hunting camp, occupied during the autumn by resource-specific procurement groups, was generally confirmed. Large format photography and detailed transit and stadia maps of the two historic farmsteads, 41RT93 and 41RT302, fulfilled recommendations for intensive documentation of sites determined eligible based on their representing agricultural complexes typical of the region in the early twentieth century. The 1992 season completed all work recommended at these four sites.

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Headrick, Pamela

1993 The Archeology of 41NU11, the Kirchmeyer Site, Nueces County, Texas: Long-Term Utilization of a Coastal Clay Dune

The Kirchmeyer site, 41NU11, situated on a clay dune on the shores of Oso Bay, Nueces County, Texas, has been the recipient of much archeological interest since at least the 1920s. This report analyzes materials recovered from the site which are curated at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory of The University of Texas at Austin. The artifacts reveal great variety in the material culture of the prehistoric coastal peoples, and point to the importance of the clay dune in the life of the aboriginal populations along the Texas coast. The historic artifacts display a similar variety during the frontier period in the history of Corpus Christi, Texas, and also indicate that the elevated dune continued to be a significant feature for human utilization throughout the nineteenth century.

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Hester, Thomas R., Harry J. Shafer, and Jack D. Eaton, editors

1994 Continuing Archeology at Colha, Belize

This volume contains 28 papers on various aspects of archeological research at the Maya site of Colha, Belize. Many of the papers deal with investigations during the 1983 field seasons, a period of fieldwork in which a great deal of important data was obtained. The bulk of the 1983 work has gone into theses and dissertations, and other results have been published in a variety of journals and monographs. Some of the 1983 investigations stimulated further work at the site, accomplished in 1984 and later seasons. The purpose of this present volume is to pull together papers that report much, but not all, of the 1983 fieldwork. Papers derived from the brief 1984 season are also included, as are several other specialized reports and syntheses. Notes on the site of Kichpanha comprise one paper, ceramic artifacts from the site of Northern River Lagoon are featured in a paper, and shell specimens are included in another.

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Potter, Daniel R., Stephen L. Black, and Kevin Jolly

1995 Archeology along the Wurzbach Parkway, Module 1: Introduction, Conceptual Framework, and Contexts of Archeological Investigations in Bexar County, South-Central Texas

The course of archeological investigations to date within the Wurzbach Parkway study area have involved a deliberate re-examination of the concepts, methods, and contexts within which this work proceeds. With analyses ongoing and fieldwork yet to be completed, this module explores the past and present environment of the Wurzbach Parkway study area, the conceptual framework of the archeological investigations, methodological considerations for work in the field and laboratory, and the historic context for prehistoric sites in the study area.

The Wurzbach Parkway study area lies along the Balcones Escarpment in northern Bexar County at the margin between the upland oak-juniper woodlands of the Edwards Plateau to the north and the Blackland Prairie to the south. An examination of the current environmental context of south-central Texas provides background and support to the development of a conceptual approach to the archeology of the study area.

At a conceptual level, a landscape approach is proposed which provides an analytical framework for placing the study area within the broader environment. This framework is presented along with a more general discussion of the nature and aims of archeology. Methodologically, the Wurzbach Project has moved from a more traditional approach to a systems based approach, integrating Total Data Stations and field computers within a structured data collection effort. Development of integrated data collection, curation, and analysis techniques continues.

The historic context developed in this module focuses on four study units, or topics, relevant to the Wurzbach Parkway study area. These study units provide a focus to the ongoing work, as well as providing elements which may prove useful in defining historic contexts for the region.

Future modules will examine in more detail the specifics of the fieldwork and analyses for the completed testing phase, the mitigation of the Higgins site (41BX184), and the historic contexts pertaining to the area after the arrival of the Spanish explorers. Additional modules may be forthcoming based on the results of research yet to be completed.

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Potter, Daniel R. and Stephen L. Black

1995 Archeology along the Wurzbach Parkway, Module 2: Initial Testing and Evaluation of Five Prehistoric Sites in the Upper Salado Watershed, Bexar County, Texas

The Wurzbach Parkway study area lies along the Balcones Escarpment in northern Bexar County, within south-central Texas. Archeological testing along the proposed route of the Parkway has been conducted at five archeological sites (41BX222, 41BX223, 41BX228, 41BX949, and 41BX996) to date. Archeological testing along the Parkway route is pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Exploratory testing at the five sites has revealed that three are not eligible for listing (or continued listing) to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) or as contributing members of the Walker Ranch NRHP District. Sites in this category include 41BX222, 41BX223, and 41BX949. None of these very shallow sites exhibited intact archeological deposits or recognizable features. Sites 41BX222 and 41BX223 are best described as shallow Archaic or Late Prehistoric debris scatters. Site 41BX223 was also found to have sustained substantial looters’ damage which apparently destroyed what may have been a small burned rock midden at this site. The shallow nature of these sites, lack of intact deposits or features, and selective looters’ damage has rendered them ineligible for continued listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Site 41BX949, not currently listed on the National Register, possessed by far the fewest archeological materials and the poorest context of any site yet studied during this project, and these materials appear to be in secondary context. The site is not deemed worthy of nomination to the National Register.

A previously unknown site, 41BX996, was encountered within the Walker Ranch National Register Historical District and saw exploratory testing revealing at least one feature and a low-density artifact scatter. The site may date to the Middle or Early Archaic, and intensive testing is recommended.

One site was intensively tested, the Panther Springs Creek site (41BX228). This site was slated for intensive testing due to its importance as demonstrated by earlier studies. Information gained from this intensive testing led to a reevaluation of 41BX228. The site dates from Early Archaic to Late Prehistoric times and modern looting as well as new interpretations of the ancient depositional patterns have led to the recommendation that the site is no longer eligible for National Register status.

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Ricklis, Robert A., and Michael B. Collins

1994 Archaic and Late Prehistoric Human Ecology in the Middle Onion Creek Valley, Hays County, Texas, Vol. 1: Archeological Components, and Vol. 2: Topical Studies

Archeological investigations were conducted at the Barton (41HY202), Mustang Branch (41HY209), and Manlove Hill (41HY210) sites on the south side of the Onion Creek valley in the right of way of proposed FM 1626 in Hays County, Texas, first by personnel of the Texas Department of Transportation and then of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory. Data relevant to the early, middle, and late Archaic, Austin, and Toyah prehistoric as well as the historic intervals were recovered, analyzed, and interpreted using the human-ecological theoretical perspective.

Early Archaic artifacts with hearths and a knapping area at the Barton site are attributable to the Jarrell interval, ca. 5,000 B.P., and are inferred to represent a limited set of activities, probably hunting related. This is in contrast to a contemporary component at the Landslide site in Bell County where a broader range of activities is represented. Since bison were present during the Jarrell interval in central Texas, it is further suggested that bison hunting may be what brought Jarrell-interval people to the Onion Creek valley.

Middle Archaic diagnostic artifacts were found sporadically and in small numbers, mostly having been introduced by late Archaic and Late Prehistoric peoples. No components could be attributed to this time period, an absence that is not easily explained. Middle Archaic burned rock middens are known in the valley not far from the project area.

Increased use of the locality during late Archaic times is indicated by three components documented by this project. Minor components included hearths with bison bones and a few late Archaic dart points at the Barton site and an ephemeral buried component at the Mustang Branch site. The major component investigated was a burned rock midden on the bluff-top at the Mustang Branch site. The midden, of Driftwood interval age, ca. A.D. 550 to 700, is later than the generally accepted occurrence of such features. A large slab-lined earth oven in the center of the midden was used and then rebuilt at least once. Processing of animal carcasses, including possible bone-greasing, is indicated by abundant bone that is highly broken and heat altered. Use of water in the earth oven is indicated. Ethnographically, earth ovens are predominantly used in the preparation of plant foods by larger than single-family groups, which is inferred by analogy to have been the case at this midden. That direct evidence for this is minimal is attributed to the relatively low archeological visibility of plant processing compared to that of animal processing.

Two Late Prehistoric intervals, Austin and Toyah, are represented by components investigated in the project area. Two Austin components, ca. A.D. 700 to 1250, at the Mustang Branch site indicate generalized subsistence activities of hunting and plant-food gathering. Although use of the bow and arrow is indicated, the life style indicated for the Austin interval is decidedly Archaic in character.

Three components of the Toyah interval were documented and found to indicate short-term, highly focused activities centered on the procurement and processing of large game. At the Barton site, production of large knives and of arrow points from the locally abundant, high-quality chert is indicated. A thin veneer of Toyah artifacts, bison bones, and a hearth on top of the burned rock midden at the Mustang Branch site indicate hunting-related activities. The Toyah component at the Mustang Branch site consisted of a discrete and dense bed of bones and associated features indicating intensive processing of carcasses of deer, antelope, and bison.

A late-nineteenth to early-twentieth century cattle ranch in the project area is documented in historical records. The dwelling associated with later decades in the history of the ranch was situated at the Manlove Hill site, but little of archeological significance was found in the right of way portion of that site.

The project area is situated along the Balcones Escarpment in the ecotonal zone between the Blackland prairies to the east and the Edwards Plateau to the west. The setting is ideal for exploiting antelope and bison grazing the prairie as well as for hunting deer that browse the patchy woodlands of the plateau, the riparian valley floors, and along the escarpment. These same habitats also offer a variety of terrestrial plant resources as well as various aquatic plant and animal species. From early Archaic to Historic times, herbivores played significant roles in the economies of cultures in the area. The major shifts seen in this record reflect changes in the presence of bison and of antelope in prehistoric times and the introduction of domestic cattle in historic times.

Ordering Information: Available (Vol. 1: xxii + 338 pp., maps, illustrations; Vol. 2: xviii + 313 pp., maps, illustrations) $20.00; Wt.: 4 lbs. 1 oz.


Taylor, Anna Jean, and Cheryl Lynn Highley

1995 Archeological Investigations at the Loma Sandia Site (41LK28), A Prehistoric Cemetery and Campsite in Live Oak County, Texas, Vols. 1, 2, Map folder

From September 1977 through October 1978, cultural resource investigations were conducted at the Loma Sandia site (41LK28) in Live Oak County, Texas, by archeologists of the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation (SDHPT; now the Texas Department of Transportation) in order to mitigate the effects of construction of Interstate Highway 37 on the site. During the 14 months of field investigations, 703 m2 were hand dug within 23 controlled excavation areas, and approximately 92 pits and trenches were machine dug. Archeologists and consultants with the SDHPT initially analyzed materials and data recovered from 41LK28. The final analyses and report preparation were conducted by archeologists, consultants, and office staff with the Center for Archaeological Research at The University of Texas at San Antonio, and later, with the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin.

The Loma Sandia site is located on a sandy knoll, along a small tributary of the Frio River. Extensive bioturbation and limited cultural stratification characterize the site deposits. The site yielded evidence of prehistoric aboriginal use and occupation that began in the Paleoindian period and extended through the Late Prehistoric period. Geomorphological studies indicate that most of the sandy deposits containing cultural materials accumulated no earlier than the early Holocene and predominantly during the Middle to Late Archaic period.

The 442 cultural features defined at the site consisted of human skeletal remains of approximately 205 individuals, extensive groups of mortuary items, ocher stains, organic stains, fire-related features, pits, and a single isolated cache. Most cultural features occurred within a 12-m2 area representing a prehistoric cemetery that was radiocarbon dated from the late Middle Archaic period (850-550 BC, using calibrated and corrected assays). Chronologically diagnostic tool types that were part of the extensive mortuary items, relative dating of the human skeletal remains through fluoride analysis, and consistency in mortuary practices all suggest a continuous and relatively short-term use of the site as a cemetery. Spatial analysis of undisturbed human burials indicates limited localized structuring with the cemetery area. Variability in mortuary treatment was mainly restricted to adult males. The items associated with the 41LK28 human burials were predominantly utilitarian artifacts characteristic of southern Texas, though some probably were obtained from adjoining regions. Certain other mortuary items perhaps were related to ritualistic activities, and a few mortuary inclusions were personal ornaments. Votive caches also may have been included within the cemetery. In addition, an isolated banking cache of lithic artifacts was recovered that appears to date from the Late Prehistoric or Early Archaic period.

Ordering Information: Available (Vol. 1: xxii + 404 pp., maps, illustrations; Vol. 2: xiv + 442 pp., maps, illustrations, appendices, map folder) $20.00; Wt.: 5 lbs. 5 ozs.


Story, Dee Ann, editor

1995 The Deshazo Site, Nacogdoches County, Texas, Vol. 2: Artifacts of Native Manufacture

This report, the second of two volumes dealing with the Deshazo site in western Nacogdoches County, central east Texas, presents the results of detailed analyses of the native-made artifacts and a general synthesis. Since Deshazo is one of the few intensively investigated sites in east Texas, the studies in this and the preceding volume have attempted primarily to define culturally meaningful patterns and sets of relationships at the site level.

All of the studies have concluded that the observable patterns and associational contexts at Deshazo mainly reflect (1) the multicomponent nature of the site and (2) the internal organization of the main component, an early historic Caddoan (Allen phase) settlement. Distinctive artifact technologies, styles, and spatial distributions are associated with each of the three, possibly four, components recognized. The earliest, which is dated to the Early Ceramic period, is localized in the northern part of the site and is distinguished mainly by sandy paste pottery and a high incidence of shaped core tools. A small collection of widely distributed engraved and incised vessel ceramics constitutes most of the evidence for a provisionally identified prehistoric Caddoan component. Many artifacts and cultural features define the Allen phase occupation and provide the first good archeological record of the physical layout of a small historic Caddoan settlement. The final occupation at Deshazo may represent a part of a ranch that dates mostly to the early nineteenth century. It is represented only by a light scatter of artifacts and a possible foundation for a structure.

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Black, Stephen L., Linda W. Ellis, Darrell G. Creel, and Glenn T. Goode

1997 Hot Rock Cooking on the Greater Edwards Plateau: Four Burned Rock Midden Sites in West Central Texas

The study examines the structure, technology, function, and dating of individual and amalgam cooking features (“hearths” and “burned rock middens”) at four sites in west-central Texas, the Corn Creek sites (41MK8 and 41MK9) in McCulloch County, the Honey Creek site (41MS32) in Mason County, and the Heard Schoolhouse site (41UV86) in Uvalde County. Five excavated middens revealed the common structural patterning of the classic central Texas burned rock midden with its ring-shaped, mounded accumulation of discarded cooking debris (mainly fire-cracked rocks). Such debris cones (i.e., middens) appear to have formed as center-focused cooking/processing facilities where hot-rock features were constructed repeatedly over spans of hundreds and even thousands of years. Technological and functional analyses of individual cooking features suggests that different types of cooking/processing facilities were built within and near middens. Chief among these were rock/earth ovens consisting of layered arrangements of hot rocks (heating elements), foodstuffs (plants as well as animals), packing material (green vegetation), and earth (insulation). It is inferred that various oven and griddlelike configurations created the baking/steaming/roasting/broiling environments needed to process variable quantities of assorted plant and animal foods. The study shows that critical field observations and systematic samples are needed to reconstruct the specific function(s) of particular cooking features and, by extension, of amalgam facilities (i.e., middens).

Fine matrix (soil) samples from all four sites (especially from the Honey Creek site) yielded identifiable charred fragments of a variety of plants used as fuel, food, and processing materials. The principal food plants identified include acorns, sotol/yucca, prickly pear, lily-family bulbs, and various fruits and seeds. Radiocarbon assays obtained on certain fragments, mainly those of short-lived plants thought to represent food items, suggest that midden accumulation at the four sites mainly dates to the Late Prehistoric era between about A.D. 800 and A.D. 1700. The presence of much earlier time markers within midden accumulations sometimes reflects earlier periods of midden accumulation from which no charred plant remains survive but often represents residual and recycled remains from earlier occupations predating midden accumulation.

The findings at the four sites are compared with excavated data from 43 other central Texas midden sites and with basic survey data from over 3,000 sites known from an eighteen-county study area forming a north-south transect across west-central Texas. Distributional data show that middens are concentrated within the oak savanna and limestone country of central Texas. Sites with middens are comparatively more frequent within the well-watered, canyon-etched southern Edwards Plateau where sotol and oak are both abundant. Radiocarbon assays from 35 middens at 29 sites suggest that midden accumulation in central Texas began prior to 3300 B.C. and was continuous throughout the remaining 5,000 years of the prehistoric era. These data suggest that the previously identified Pedernales period heyday (ca. 1500-2000 B.C.) was followed by continued and perhaps even increased midden accumulation during the subsequent millennia of aboriginal life across the greater Edwards Plateau. The prevailing explanation that Late Prehistoric materials form functionally unrelated “veneer” deposits over many central Texas middens is rejected. Data from the four sites, particularly that from the Honey Creek site, show that certain middens were in use during the final prehistoric centuries after A.D. 1400. Thus, the popular interpretation of Toyah culture as representing a radical shift to buffalo hunting must be recast.

The persistence of burned rock middens for over 5,000 years on and near the Edwards Plateau of central Texas bespeaks long-term cultural continuity, an archetypal example of an Archaic tradition. Middens are seen as settlement features, permanent, if intermittently used, cooking facilities where ovens and other types of hot-rock features were created to process carbohydrate-rich plants and, to a lesser extent, the flesh and bones of various animals. The burned rock middens of the greater Edwards Plateau represent historically unique intersections of time, place, resource, process, and prehistoric Native American life.

Ordering Information: Available through Texas Department of Transportation.


Walter, Tamra L.

1997 The Dynamics of Culture Change and Its Reflection in the Archeological Record at Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga, Victoria County, Texas (also Southern Texas Archaeological Association Special Publication 7)

During the summer and fall of 1995, test excavations were completed at the presumed second location of the Espíritu Santo Mission. This location along the Guadalupe River, in present-day Victoria County, Texas, was occupied from 1726 to 1749 by Franciscan missionaries along with Aranama and Tamique Indians. The archeological record of the mission offers a unique opportunity to examine the processes of change at work and their affects on both the mission Indians and the friars. Through the examination of the material and faunal remains, questions of the effects of contact and long-term interaction are addressed. This research adds to our knowledge of the mission era in south Texas and contributes to the cultural history of Texas.

Ordering Information: Out-of-print; duplication available at $0.55/page; price-per-page charge includes S/H; do not include S/H when figuring "Total" on order form (83 pages).


Prilliman, Keith L., David W. Driver, Michael B. Collins, and O. Frank Huffman

1997 Archeological Testing at Site 41BX1152 in the Olmos Creek Channelization Project, Castle Hills, Texas

During a channelization project related to upgrading of Loop 410 in northwestern San Antonio, mechanical clearing of a terrace above a section of Olmos Creek exposed the remains of a buried prehistoric site. Designated as the Olmos Creek site (41BX1152), the site contained evidence of a possible incipient burned rock midden located in the area soon to be destroyed by the construction. Test excavations were undertaken to determine the significance of the site and to obtain information regarding the formation and function of such features.

The site could not be dated, and organic materials were lacking; therefore, the collection of data on the physical structure and context of the burned rock accumulation became the focus of this investigation. Geologic evidence suggests that this site was in active use at a time, probably near the end of the Altithermal, when Olmos Creek was deeply incised and coarse gravel of Edwards Limestone was exposed in its bed. Subsequently, the creek began to aggrade, probably in response to a more mesic, post-Altithermal climate, and suitable limestone was no longer readily available. Burned rock ceased to accumulate. The primary implication of this interpretation is that limestone rock was a critical resource to the hunter-gatherers occupying this region during the Archaic; for future archeological research this means that understanding the prehistoric hunter-gatherers who left these features behind begins by better understanding the details of when, where, how, and why they used heated rocks. The Olmos Creek site is judged significant as a source of data on this topic, but no field investigation beyond this intensive testing phase is warranted. However, there are data that were collected during field testing that have not been fully analyzed and have been curated for future analysis.

Ordering Information: Available through Texas Department of Transportation.


Hudler, Dale B.

1997 Determining Clear Fork Tool Function Through Use-Wear Analysis: A Discussion of Use-Wear Methods and Clear Fork Tools

This volume provides the results of an effort to determine the function of Clear Fork tools, a class of prehistoric stone artifact found largely in Texas. The research included an examination of the wear patterns on a selected group of specimens from central and southern Texas, study of the context in which the tools were found, and an experimental archeology program in which replica tools were used to "work" various materials.

The use-wear data suggest that many Clear Fork tools were used in woodworking. However, some early tools appear to have been used on a hard material that generated a lot of residue, possibly bone or antler. Additionally, some tools may have been used on soft vegetal material and possibly a few were used to work hides. Some of the tools have two polish types suggesting more than one contact material, bolstering the image of a formal tool that was sometimes used for a variety of tasks.

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McGraw, A. Joachim, editor

1997 Cotton, Clay, and the Company Store: The Archeology of U.S. Highway 183 in Historic Gonzales, Texas (also Texas Department of Transportation Archeological Studies Program Report No. 4)

This report presents the findings of the historical and archeological investigations associated with the U.S. Highway 183 relocation project in Gonzales, Texas. This work was initiated by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) which at the time of work was known as the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation (SDHPT). An initial cultural resources assessment of the proposed project area (beginning in July 1989) found that there was a high probability of encountering potentially significant archeological deposits within the right-of-way. Subsequent investigations by TxDOT (February and March 1993) and the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin (August 1993), did encounter historical-archeological materials throughout the project area. Invariably, however, these deposits were found in contexts that lacked integrity and significance. Following archeological testing, TxDOT, in consultation with and with concurrence of the SHPO, determined that no sites in the project area were eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. This report describes the archeological investigations that were conducted. In addition, an historical overview of the community is included that gives context to the materials encountered and discusses the historical associations of the project area.

Ordering Information: Available through Texas Department of Transportation.


Black, Stephen L., Kevin Jolly, Charles D. Frederick, Jason R. Lucas, James W. Karbula, Paul R. Takac, and Daniel R. Potter

1998 Archeology along the Wurzbach Parkway, Module 3: Investigation and Experimentation at the Higgins Site (41BX184)

The Higgins site, 41BX184, is a mainly prehistoric site (spanning the last 6,000 to 7,000 years) containing abundant remains and is situated on a middle to late Holocene terrace along Panther Springs Creek in northern Bexar County. It was archeologically investigated in 1992 and 1993 as part of work done along the Wurzbach Parkway in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The site was initially recorded in 1973 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing member of the Walker Ranch National Historic District in 1975. Subsequently, it was impacted by the construction of a flood control dam in the late 1980s along with extensive looting.

The 1992 testing was conducted in two phases. The first phase determined that, despite adverse impacts, buried prehistoric and historic archeological remains were present at 41BX184 and that further investigation would be needed in order to decide whether the site should continue to be listed as a contributing member of the National Historic District. The site’s cultural deposits were found to be shallow and overprinted, yet apparently intact features were present. The second phase, intensive testing, determined that the site was still a contributing member of the district by virtue of its intact Late Archaic deposits including a buried burned rock midden and a hearth field. This finding led to a mitigation program under a programmatic agreement between the Federal Highway Administration, the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Texas Historical Commission.

The 1993 excavation, dubbed the Higgins Experiment, was an innovative program designed to explore site structure through the application of new methodological strategies. These involved the use of a total data station (TDS) and field computers to directly record data along with an open stratigraphic excavation approach. TDS piece-plotting was the main recovery and recording method in lieu of bulk screening. Archeologically, it was hypothesized that family camps in the hearth field were maintained by dumping cooking debris in one place forming the midden. To acquire the data needed to test this idea, the excavations focused on a large block in the hearth field and the mechanical stripping and trenching of the burned rock midden. Burned rocks were seen as the most important artifact class and data was collected on almost 20,000 individual rocks.

The midden was found to be an annular midden that contained the substantively intact remains of large ovens, the heated elements of basin-shaped roasting pits. This contradicted the hypothesis that the midden had served as a communal dump. Instead, the midden is seen as a communal roasting facility where relatively large quantities of food (probably mainly plants) were processed. The hearth field was found to contain a much larger range of cooking features including small hearths, small to medium hearths or ovens, and large ovens. Collectively, these formed a hearth-oven continuum, suggesting that a relatively wide range of behaviors took place in the hearth field in contrast to the more limited suite of activities represented by the midden.

Rock size data showed that two overlapping populations of rocks were present at the site. Pristine rocks were brought to the site from the nearby creek mostly as intact limestone cobbles larger than 10 cm in maximum dimension. Through thermal cycling during repeated cooking episodes, the pristine rocks broke apart and reached a discard size (below 12 cm). The pristine/discard threshold of approximately 11.5 cm provides a useful measure of the degree to which the rocks making up an individual feature have been cycled. Among the individual features in the hearth field, some were judged to be pristine arrangements reflecting minimal use, while others were obviously oft-used remnants. Archeomagnetic measurements showed, however, that a majority of the sampled rocks, even those found with apparent feature remnants and scatters, remained unmoved since they were last too hot to handle. This finding suggests that burned rocks are indeed a good clue as to primary site structure.

The Higgins Experiment is seen as a success replete with many failures. The TDS approach shows great promise, although it requires a more systematic sampling strategy for the small artifacts than was accomplished. The stratigraphic approach worked as an accounting device, but failed as a recording strategy, because of the inadequacies of the computerized recording system and because too many new things were tried simultaneously. The weaknesses of the Higgins approach highlight the interdependence of methodology, data, and analysis. The archeological record of hunter-gatherers in south-central Texas is far more complex than heretofore has been acknowledged. Successful research strategies will require thorough planning and deliberate problem definition.

Ordering Information: Available through Texas Department of Transportation.


Hindes, V. Kay

1998 The Herrera Gate: An Archival, Architectural, and Conservation Study

In November, 1984, the Herrera Gate, a badly weathered yet extremely rare example of late Spanish Colonial woodwork, was found on the Medina River in southwestern Bexar County, Texas. Located on property owned by Adolph Herrera of San Antonio, the gate was located at the historical site of 41BX672, one of a series of early historic sites owned or occupied since possibly as early as the late-eighteenth century by the historically prominent Ruiz and Herrera families in the lower Medina River valley. However, the oral history tradition of the Herrera family states that the gate "came from one of the missions" (Adolph Herrera, personal communication; notes and tape on file, Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio). Additionally, according to Mr. Herrera, sometime after the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, the family obtained scrap lumber from the Alamo. This lumber was brought to site 41BX672, the Herrera’s Medina River property. Thus, circumstantial evidence associated with the site strongly suggested that the gate may have come from Mission Valero (the Alamo).

Subsequently, the gate was moved to the Institute of Texas Cultures in San Antonio. Architectural, archival, and conservation studies were begun on the gate. Spanish Colonial architectural styles, periods, and methods were investigated with an emphasis on historical gates and gateways of the five San Antonio Missions: San Antonio de Valero, San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción, San Juan Capistrano, and San Francisco de la Espada. Studies using primary sources describing these gates and gateways provided substantive information on descriptive types, functional forms, sizes, and locations, and confirmed that this type and size of gate had been present at the San Antonio missions. The gate’s craftsmanship and configuration suggest a probable origin in the mid-eighteenth to early nineteenth century. Extensive archival studies revealed that the natural resources and woodworking tools needed to have produced this type of architectural element were locally available. In addition, highly skilled and knowledgeable carpenters capable of constructing such joinery have been identified.

The specific origins of the gate have not been determined. The primary evidence for its original provenience remains the oral history tradition of the Herrera family. Research has substantiated that the family owned property at the missions, but the evidence linking the gate to the Mission Valero remains circumstantial. This large gate doubtless served as a main entrance to a substantial structure or complex, most probably Valero or one of the other San Antonio missions.

Conservation studies discuss the treatment and stabilization of the Herrera Gate. Also, metal, paint, and wood species analyses are outlined. The wood was identified as Prosopis sp., or mesquite, a tree which is ubiquitous in central and south-central Texas.

Ordering Information: Available (x + 91 pp., illustrations) $8.00; Wt.: 10.5 ozs.


Black, Stephen L., James W. Karbula, Charles D. Frederick, and Charles E. Mear

1998 Archeology along the Wurzbach Parkway, Module 5: Testing and Geoarcheological Evaluation at the Number 6 Site (41BX996) and other Sites

Archeological and geoarcheological testing is reported within for five sites along the Wurzbach Parkway in northern Bexar County, Texas. The most intensive archeological work was done at the Number-6 site, 41BX996. There, a 9,500-year-old component was found that is characterized by late Paleoindian lithic technology and an Early Archaic cooking technology. Six earth ovens and seven hearths were found in association with a small number of stone tools and a larger amount of stone-tool-making debris. This site component has regional archeological significance because it provides one of the earliest well-documented examples of large earth ovens. However, the 1994 investigations showed that little else remained beyond what was excavated. Therefore, the Number-6 site was judged to be ineligible for the National Register.

Smaller scale testing efforts were carried out at four other sites in 1994-1995. The investigated portions of sites 41BX947 and 41BX948 proved to have little of archeological significance. However, access to the remaining portions of both sites within the Wurzbach Parkway right-of-way was not possible; thus a National Register evaluation could not be completed. Sites 41BX1062 and 41BX1063 were also judged to be ineligible for the National Register.

Also reported is a study of the late Quaternary stratigraphy of portions of the drainages of Salado and Panther Springs creeks in northern Bexar County. The study suggests that these streams aggraded their valleys at least five times during the late Pleistocene and Holocene. The dating of the two Pleistocene fills is not known; however, radiocarbon dates were secured for the three Holocene fills. The first appears to have begun forming around 10,500 B.P. and possibly as early as 12,200 B.P., and terminated sometime around 8000 B.P. The second was deposited following a period of channel entrenchment that occurred between 8000 and 3500 B.P. and is thought to date to between about 3200 and 1400 B.P. Another phase of channel entrenchment occurred between 1400 and 500 B.P., when the modern floodplain was formed.

Ordering Information: Available through Texas Department of Transportation


Perttula, Timothy K., and James E. Bruseth, editors

1998 The Native History of the Caddo: Their Place in Southeastern Archeology and Ethnohistory

This monograph discusses the native history of the Caddo and their place in Southeastern archeology and ethnohistory. In prehistoric and historic times, the Caddo peoples--a diverse group who prehistorically shared many cultural traditions--played important political, economic, and social roles between Native Americans of the Southeastern United States, as well as Native American groups living in the Southern Plains and the Southwest. Later they were powerful mediators between European and Anglo-American explorers and colonists and Native American groups such as the Wichita, Comanche, and Apache tribes. But turn to major recent texts and books on the archeology and history of North America and more specific considerations of the aboriginal Southeast--to which the Caddo peoples are closely related--and what is mentioned concerning Caddo native history has little substance. One questions why the Caddoan archeological and ethnohistorical record (that is, except for the spectacular archeological remains from the Spiro site)--surely one that is Southeastern in its aspect--always seems to elude the grasp of Southeastern archeologists and ethnohistorians. To remedy the situation, a symposium on Caddo Native History was held at the 1992 Southeastern Archeological Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. Selected invited papers from that symposium are assembled in this monograph.

The papers are thematic, with regionally-based presentations on Caddoan native history focusing on Early Developments, Regional Diversity, and Cultural Interactions with other Native Americans and Europeans. These themes capture the larger and more compelling research issues in current Caddo archeological and ethnohistorical efforts and provide the opportunity to highlight not only the diversity of the Caddoan archeological and historical records, but the diversity of approaches and perspectives being employed by students of Caddo Native History. They range spatially from the Arkansas River of eastern Oklahoma to the Ouachita River valley in Arkansas and northern Louisiana, and from the Red River to deep East Texas, and cover the period from about A.D. 800/900 to the mid-1870s.

Ordering Information: Out-of-print; duplication available at $0.55/page; price-per-page charge includes S/H; do not include S/H when figuring "Total" on order form (180 pages).


Collins, Michael B., editor

1998 Wilson-Leonard: An 11,000-year Archeological Record of Hunter-Gatherers in Central Texas

Wilson-Leonard is a deeply stratified, prehistoric archeological site in Central Texas. Deposits at the site are part of the Quaternary fill of Brushy Creek valley, are more than 6 m in total thickness, and contain the most complete temporal sequence of prehistoric archeological assemblages known at a single site in Central Texas. Cultural and noncultural evidence relating to much of the last 12,000 years and covering the Paleoindians. Archaic, and Late Prehistoric archeological periods has been recovered from excavations at the Wilson-Leonard site. This evidence has been analyzed, interpreted, and here reported from the perspective of human ecology.

Wilson-Leonard is in the ecotonal zone between the savanna habitats of the Edwards Plateau and the tall grass prairie habitats of the Black Prairie on the interior coastal plain. This setting is near the headwaters of Brushy Creek, a tributary in the Brazos River system, but the site is separated from the Colorado River drainage only by a low, narrow divide, and its cultural history is intimately linked to both of these two great river basins of Texas.

Archeological investigation of the Wilson-Leonard locality began in advance of construction of Ranch-to-Market Road (RR) 1431, which crosses the western end of the site, and the work has been conducted to mitigate damage to the site by that road project. These investigations have been in four phases. The site was found during archeological reconnaissance of the right of way in April, 1973, and minor testing was conducted in July, 1981. Conspicuous mounds of burned rocks, "burned rock middens," were the most visible aspects of the site at the time it was found and tested.

Large-scale excavation commenced in January, 1982, and, prolonged by a series of unexpected findings, lasted for 28 months, ending in April 1984. During this time, the site generated considerable interest among archeologists who were aware of it, and widely publicized accounts of the discovery of an early human burial focused considerable public attention on the project in 1983. The site and its sizable yield of data remained unanalyzed and unreported for almost 10 years during which time the field of archeology advanced significantly both in methods and in substantive findings. As part of the effort to analyze and report the Wilson-Leonard findings of 1982-1984, a fourth phase of fieldwork was conducted on a "witness column" in 1992-1993 for the purpose of bringing more-current methods and perspectives to the interpretation of this important site, particularly its geological aspects. Ancillary to these direct investigations have been two episodes of core-drilling at the site (in 1992-1993). Also, geological reconnaissance was conducted some distance up and down the valley (in 1994) and a series of shallow auger holes was drilled in a part of the site by staff of the Office of the State Archeologist, Texas Historical Commission, in 1983. No report is available for the latter auguring effort.

The 1973 reconnaissance, 1981 test excavation, 1982-1984 excavation, and preliminary processing of the data generated by those activities were conducted by personnel of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT [formerly State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, SDHPT]). The 1992-1993 field investigations, 1994 geological reconnaissance, and all subsequent analyses have been conducted under auspices of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) of The University of Texas at Austin under contract with TxDOT. All work was performed under Texas Antiquities Committee Permit Number 300. This report and the curation of the artifacts and records will complete TxDOT's responsibilities under that permit.

This five-volume monograph presents an analysis and interpretation based on attempts to unify data from all of these sources, integrate them with regional findings, and offer a comprehensive report in human ecological terms. The report has two distinctive aspects. One is a descriptive report of the site, the investigations conducted there, and archeological, physical anthropological, geological, and ecological data recovered. The other aspect covers the interpretive findings for each of the major archeological periods (Early Paleoindian, Late Paleoindian, Archaic, and Late Historic) at the site and concludes with a diachronic summary of the site and a consideration of its place in the cultural history of the Southern Plains of North America.

Ordering Information: Available through Texas Department of Transportation.


Brownlow, Russell K., Daniel J. Prikryl, Thomas Gustavson, John Garner, and Michael B. Collins

1999 An Intensive Cultural Resources Survey of the Texas Army National Guard's Fort Wolters Facility: Parker and Palo Pinto Counties, Texas

A 100 percent pedestrian survey was undertaken on Fort Wolters Army National Guard Training Site in Palo Pinto and Parker Counties, Texas by crews from the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) of The University of Texas at Austin, for the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG) and the Adjutant General's Department. Survey and shovel testing efforts took place from July 8 to October 15, 1998 in order to locate and define all cultural resources located on the base, as well as to assess the National Register eligibility status of each recorded site. The results of these investigations will be utilized by the TXARNG to develop a cultural resources management plan for Fort Wolters.

Although numerous surveys have been undertaken in the area (including surveys completed in Lake Mineral Wells State Park directly adjacent to the post), none has documented significant numbers of sites. Contrary to this, the current survey recorded 49 archeological sites and 4 single-artifact localities within the project area. Data from these sites are indicative of activities spanning the Early Archaic to the Late Prehistoric and possibly the Protohistoric periods, the historic European settlement of the area, and the historic military usage of the area. Data reflective of diffused lithic technologies from each, central, and north Texas were all recovered from within the project area, as was evidence of long-distance trade/travel (in the form of lithic material [Alibates "flint"] from the Texas Panhandle and the Red River). Also, general data reflective of settlement pattern shifts, subsistence strategies, and material usage throughout prehistory were recovered. Geoarcheological investigations were undertaken to outline the depositional and erosional history of Fort Wolters as well as to predict the potential of landforms to contain buried deposits.

As a result of the investigations, one prehistoric site, 41PR57, is assessed as eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and five prehistoric sites, 41PR44, 41PR49, 41PR77, 41PR88, and 41PR90, are assessed as potentially National Register eligible. The remaining 43 sites do not appear to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Decker, Susan, Stephen L. Black, and Thomas Gustavson

2000 The Woodrow Heard Site, 41UV88: A Holocene Terrace Site in the Western Balcones Canyonlands of Southwestern Texas

The Woodrow Heard site lies on a terrace along the Dry Frio River in northern Uvalde County, and contains dated cultural remains from the Early Archaic through the Late Prehistoric periods. The site is discussed within its context in the Western Balcones Canyonlands, a subregion of the Edwards Plateau that has seen comparatively little archeological investigation. The topographic setting of the canyonlands, with its narrow river valleys divided by steep ridges, has affected settlement patterns in the past, and occasional flash floods have both buried and eroded archeological remains.

The migration of the river channel within the Dry Frio canyon caused the expansion of the terrace on which the site is located. Cultural remains are present from 8400 to 8900 B.P., located near the edge of the river before its final migration. After the migration the old channel filled fairly rapidly and contains dated cultural material beginning about 6500 B.P. By about 3500 B.P. the surface stabilized, and the remains of subsequent occupations slowly accumulated forming a mixed-age deposit.

A paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the site was based on stable isotope analysis of sediments and snails, macrobotanical identifications of charcoal samples, and the vertebrate and invertebrate faunal remains. The site area was cooler and moister in the Early Holocene than today, but after 6500 B.P. the climate gradually began to get warmer and drier. Like many other paleobiological records in Texas, the evidence for the Woodrow Heard site does not indicate a strong Hypsithermal interval, partly because of its protected location in a riparian environment surrounded by hills. The plant and animal remains indicate that throughout the site's occupations there were both wooded and open grassland environments within hunting distance. Sotol and/or yucca were available and utilized as early as 8000 B.P.

Fifty-eight cultural features were identified at the site, all but one of them burned rock features. An analysis of their forms indicates a strong continuity in feature types throughout the site's history. Small burned rock clusters, rock rings, basin hearths, and large oven features were present in the Early to Late Archaic periods. In the Middle Archaic and later periods, these same forms continue to be used, and burned rock scatters and middens also formed on a stable surface.

Among the lithic artifacts from the site are those from an Angostura component dating from 8400 to 8000 B.P. The Angostura component is the site's only reasonably discrete lithic assemblage. Later Early Archaic artifacts date from 6500 to 4500 B.P. These provide comparisons to other Early Archaic assemblages in Texas and northeastern Mexico and point to the need for further research.

Ordering Information: Available through Texas Department of Transportation (512-465-3016).


Ricklis, Robert A.

2000 Archeological Testing at 41GD112, La Villa De Bahía, An Early Historic Site in Goliad County, Texas

Archeological testing was conducted during January and February, 1999, by the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) of The University of Texas at Austin, with the primary goal of determining if site 41GD112 contained significant deposits of cultural material pertaining to the early historic (colonial and early postcolonial) periods. This work was in response to the discovery in 1998 of early historic artifacts within an area of new construction on U.S. Highway 183, by personnel from the Archeology Studies Program, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The testing by TARL involved relocation and excavation of a pit feature discovered by the TxDOT crew and excavation of nine 1-m2 test units. The TARL fieldwork revealed the presence of intact stratigraphic zones pertaining to late colonial and early postcolonial occupations at this site, plus the presence of numerous early historic artifacts including native ceramics, nonnative ceramics of Spanish Colonial/Mexican and English/early American origins, chert debitage and other lithic artifacts, plus items of metal and glass. The remains of a jacal structure of probable late colonial age were partially exposed and documented. Based upon the kinds and quantities of materials recovered, as well as the basic stratigraphic integrity of the deposits, it is concluded that the part of 41GD112 within the highway right-of-way on the west side of the highway has significant potential to contribute to understanding of significant research issues and is eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places and for designation as a State Archeological Landmark.

Ordering Information: Available through Texas Department of Transportation (512-465-3016).


Hudler, Dale, Keith Prilliman, and Thomas Gustavson

2002 The Smith Creek Bridge Site, 41DW270: A Terrace Site in De Witt County, Texas

Site 41DW270 was discovered during work associated with the construction of a new bridge over Smith Creek on State Highway 119 south of Yorktown, Texas. The site appeared intact and contained stratified deposits, diagnostic artifacts, intact features, and preserved faunal remains. The site was judged to be significant and eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and for designation as a State Archeological Landmark. As the site did not extend beyond the construction area, the decision was made to proceed with an emergency site mitigation within the construction area. Excavation of a 30-m2 block was accomplished by a Texas Archeological Research Laboratory crew with assistance by Texas Department of Transportation archeologists from December 10, 1997 through January 14, 1998. The excavation block was found to contain Middle Archaic and Late Archaic deposits. The upper unit/levels in the excavation block contained much intrusive modern material, but an apparent Morhiss component in the site was considered worthy of intensive analysis. The data resulting from this analysis suggests that the group(s) who used Morhiss bifaces at 41DW270 were broad spectrum foragers who “mapped” onto the landscape and whose subsistence pattern depended heavily on riverine resources (turtle, fish, and freshwater mussels). The known Morhiss biface distribution suggests that this preferred subsistence pattern tethered them to sites along the lower drainages of the middle Texas coast.

Ordering Information: Available through Texas Department of Transportation (512-465-3016).


Brownlow, Russell K.

2003 Archeological Investigations at 41WM815, A Blackland Prairie Site, Williamson County, Texas

This report describes the archeological investigation of site 41WM815 undertaken by the staff of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) of The University of Texas at Austin between July 6 and August 4, 1999. Mitigation efforts were prompted by the proposed expansion of F.M. 973 in Williamson County from 3.5 miles north of Rice’s Crossing south to the Williamson County Line. More precisely, proposed improvements to the roadway within the floodplain of Brushy Creek included raising the elevation of F.M. 973 by 5 ft. as well as the expansion of a bridge spanning a tributary of Brushy Creek approximately 700 m south of F.M. 1660 at Rice’s Crossing. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) contracted TARL to investigate the site under Interagency Contract IAC 579XXA3004, and TARL obtained Texas Antiquities Permit No. 2213 to conduct the work.

Ordering Information: Available through Texas Department of Transportation (512-465-3016).


Brownlow, Russell K.

2001 The Testing of Four Sites at the Texas Army National Guard’s Fort Wolters Facility, Parker County, Texas

From November 8-19, 1999, crews from the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) conducted National Register eligibility testing at four sites (41PR44, 41PR49, 41PR77, and 41PR90) on the Fort Wolters Army National Guard Training Site in Parker County for the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG) and the Adjutant General’s Department. Test excavations were undertaken at these four sites to assess their archeological deposits in an effort to determine their eligibility status for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion D. The results of these investigations will be utilized by the TXARNG to further develop a cultural resources management plan for the Fort Wolters facility.

Previously located by TARL crews in the summer of 1998, sites 41PR44, 41PR49, 41PR77, and 41PR90 were initially assessed as potentially meeting the criteria for listing in the National Register but required additional investigations to better define their archeological deposits. To facilitate the definition of each site’s deposits, TARL crews excavated one to three 1-x-1-m2 test units at each site, and in select cases, profiled segments of exposed erosional features. The TARL test investigations resulted in the definition of Late Prehistoric components at three of the four tested sites (41PR44, 41PR77, and 41PR90). Site 41PR44 was found to contain intact a Late Prehistoric component (defined by recovered arrow point fragments) overlying potentially older (Archaic) deposits at the southern end of the site. An untyped arrow point recovered from 41PR77 also denoted a Late Prehistoric occupation of this site. However, the shallow deposits were assessed as highly turbated and not intact. A single Scallorn arrow point, red ochre, and a series of overlapping burned sandstone concentrations at 41PR90 alluded to a short-term, Austin Interval occupation of this site. Finally, site 41PR49, initially thought to contain deposits reflecting a bison butchering episode, was found to have only sparse cultural remains that did not allow for the further definition of the site’s deposits.

As a result of the TARL National Register eligibility testing on the Fort Wolters Training Site, two sites, 41PR44 and 41PR90, are recommended as eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places under criterion D. The remaining two sites, 41PR49 and 41PR77, are not recommended for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places based on the fact that their deposits are either minimal or highly disturbed.

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Takac, Paul R., Jeffrey G. Paine, and Michael B. Collins

2000 Reassessment of Ten Archeological Sites Along the Houston Ship Channel–Morgan’s Point to Buffalo Bayou, Harris County, Texas

The Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) at The University of Texas at Austin entered into a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District (hereafter COE) in 1997 to reassess nine previously identified archeological sites along a segment of the Houston Ship Channel (HSC) between Morgan’s Point and the lower reaches of Buffalo Bayou. From south to north, the sites included are 41HR685 (Atkinson Island), 41HR681 (southern shore of Hog Island), 41HR680 (Spilman’s Island), 41HR405 (Goat or St. Mary’s Island), 41HR577 (on the northwest bank of Buffalo Bayou just upstream from Carpenters Bayou), and a group of four sites (41HR121, 41HR33, 41HR104, and 41HR105) along the southeast bank of Buffalo Bayou, upstream from the San Jacinto Battlefield State Park. These nine sites were selected from comprehensive lists of prehistoric and historic sites in the project area (Foster et al. 1993; Kibler et al. 1996). They were believed to be the most likely locations for finding significant, intact archeological deposits within the zone of possible adverse impacts resulting from planned navigational improvements to the HSC. Consequently, the sites required additional archeological evaluation before that construction effort could proceed.

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Davidson, James M.

2001 An Archeological Survey and Archival Assessment of 1,250 Acres of the Texas Army National Guard Eagle Mountain Lake Training Site, Tarrant County, Texas

As contracted through the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), in August 2000 personnel from the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) conducted an intensive pedestrian cultural resources survey of the Texas National Guard Eagle Mountain Lake Training Site (EML), located in northwest Tarrant County, Texas.

The project area is currently owned by the Texas Military Facilities Commission, but is used primarily by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), a program of the Texas A&M University System. TEEX is a school program for the training of heavy machinery operators in the use of backhoes, graders, and other types of large earth moving equipment. The TXARNG conducts occasional training at the site and the area is also leased for cattle grazing.

While researching the background history of Eagle Mountain Lake and the surrounding communities, multiple and disparate views of the landscape and its use in the past were revealed. Everything from the mundane to the bizarre was uncovered: from concrete foundations to the grave of the celebrated Texas singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt (located a scant 1½ miles away from the facility), and from whiteware sherds to the account of an alien spacecraft crashing within the bounds of the base or its immediate vicinity in 1897. Where extant historical documentation would permit, a detailed history of the first settlement of the Eagle Mountain Lake property was created. In particular, the history of the Jeffersons, the first known Anglo family to reside within the confines of the base property, is chronicled. This history was both spurred and aided by the presence of the Jefferson Family Cemetery in the southern portion of the base, containing the mortal remains of at least five individuals. Historic period land use is also reviewed, revealing that most of the acreage within the present EML training site was used in the past primarily as grazing lands for horses, cattle, and sheep.

The creation of the Eagle Mountain Lake Base itself, as a Marine Corps glider training facility during the early years of World War II, is presented in great detail. Additionally, the transformation of the W.W.II base to a Cold War auxiliary field and training facility is documented. In a sense, of course, there are multiple histories, and multiple points of view. As many as possible were given a voice within this report, though each history presented is far from exhaustive.

Ordering Information: Out-of-print; duplication available at $0.55/page; price-per-page charge includes S/H; do not include S/H when figuring “Total” on order form (51 pages).


Aten, Lawrence E., and Charles N. Bollich

2002 Late Holocene Settlement in the Taylor Bayou Drainage Basin: Test Excavations at the Gaulding Site (41JF27), Jefferson County, Texas

The Gaulding site, 41JF27, was excavated in 1965 by the participants in the fourth summer field school of the Texas Archeological Society. Supplementary investigations were carried out in 1974 and 1995-96. A Late Archaic and Late Prehistoric shell-bearing site, Gaulding is located in extreme southeast Texas near Sabine Lake and the Gulf shore. In 1965, stratigraphic tests were placed in several areas of the site and numerous auger borings and profile trenches recorded its mass and stratigraphy. In 1974, additional testing was carried out in the ceramic deposits at the site. And in 1995-96, soil borings were placed around the site’s periphery and one of the 1965 excavations was reopened. In the latter, the stratification was recorded in detail, bulk samples and radiocarbon samples were taken from all stratigraphic layers, and two cores collectively penetrating the entire thickness of the site were taken.

In the aggregate, this testing provides an understanding of the site’s place in the landscape, its periods of use, and the potential for future investigation. The overall depositional structure of the site was identified and dated with a series of seven radiocarbon dates. The formation of the site’s layers was examined as closely as possible with outcrop descriptions and particle analysis of the bulk samples. The ceramic technology was closely examined, a preliminary estimation of subsistence activity was identified, and a single human burial was described. A moderate-sized collection of terrestrial gastropods suggested a picture of evolving climate at the site and geological evidence permitted an initial description of the place of the site in the regional landscape of Taylor Bayou drainage basin.

The first of three periods of use and accumulation at the Gaulding site occurred between 4000 and 3700 calibrated radiocarbon years ago. After a hiatus the site was used again from around 2900 to 2700 calibrated radiocarbon years ago. Finally, after another hiatus, the site was used sporadically from around 2000 to about 600 calibrated radiocarbon years ago. Use of the site during the latter period was rare and accumulated much less refuse than during the earlier periods of site use.

An unexpected outcome after reviewing all of the landscape, geological, and archeological evidence of the Gaulding site and its environs, was that its history is most consistent with a model of Late Holocene small-scale sea level fluctuations that was initially proposed by W. F. Tanner (1991 and earlier papers). To the extent that relevant data are available, the Tanner model seems to account for the times of archeological deposition, the location geometry and orientation of the shell deposits, and much of the material content of the archeological deposits.

Very few artifacts were found in deposits of the three periods of accumulation at Gaulding except for ceramics in the third and last period of site use. Although the ceramics collection is small, examination of the paste characteristics yielded new information about technological distinctions between several of the named pottery varieties. Most notable is that the sand temper sources for O’Neal Plain variety Conway appear to be similar to and probably taken from point bar deposits in either the lower Neches or the lower Sabine rivers.

Gaulding and the other sites in the Taylor Bayou drainage basin are important localities for further archeological and geoarcheological investigations. Although the basin has far fewer sites than the nearby Neches and Sabine River floodplains, it is less susceptible to overbank flooding, sedimentation, and erosion. Taylor Bayou is an environment in which preservation of subtle environmental perturbations – especially those due to sea level – may be more likely. Testing many of the preliminary environmental history suggestions developed in this study can be done through more detailed site survey in areas of the basin where settlement is implied by the Tanner model. The Gaulding site is interesting also for its extensive and relatively easy to distinguish deposits of late Middle Archaic or early Late Archaic age. This is a site that has substantial remaining information potential.

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Collins, Michael B., Dale B. Hudler, and Stephen L. Black

2003 Pavo Real (41BX52): A Paleoindian and Archaic Camp and Workshop on the Balcones Escarpment, South-Central Texas

The widening of FM 1604 at its crossing of Leon Creek in northwestern Bexar County, Texas occasioned excavation of archeological site 41BX52, Pavo Real, in 1979-1980. A stratified sequence of three components was revealed in the course of field investigations and a generalized chronology was established using a combination of radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating techniques. At the base was found a small number of flaked stone objects of unknown cultural affiliation; overlying these was a mixed component of early Paleoindian Clovis and Folsom lithic artifacts. These two components consisted almost entirely of lithic remains. Above the Paleoindian component was a mixed age deposit of early to late Archaic hearths, middens, and artifacts. Pavo Real occupies the Balcones ecotone between the Edwards Plateau and the Gulf Coastal Plain where hunter-gatherers enjoyed the advantage of ready access to diverse resources. No report of these findings was prepared until the present monograph was written in 2001-2002.

The upper 40-60 centimeters of the site contained a palimpsest of occupations dating from the latter Early Archaic Period (Bell/Andice and Uvalde points) to the Late Archaic Period (Frio and Ensor points). The most numerous types are Nolan, Early Triangular, Pedernales, and Bulverde. Three burned rock middens were identified in the Archaic excavation levels; one annular midden was extensively excavated and found to contain two large hearth features (earth oven beds) within its center. Twelve smaller hearths and possible hearths were identified outside the midden, but most were not well documented. Organic preservation at the site was very poor, although enough charcoal was recovered from three hearths and the midden for seven radiocarbon assays, all of which fell between about 3600 B.P. and 4800 B.P.

Clovis and Folsom artifacts in the mixed Paleoindian component could not be separated except on technological and typological criteria. The conceptual Clovis component thus established indicates that generalized Clovis hunter-gatherers camped at the locality and produced significant quantities of bifacial and blade and blade-core artifacts from an outcrop of chert adjacent to the habitation area. This behavior fits a pattern of Clovis sites found along the Balcones ecotone. In Folsom times, Pavo Real was occupied and continued to be a locus of stone tool manufacture. This, too, fits a pattern seen in the region, but it is that of specialized bison hunters accustomed to hunting bison on the grasslands of the nearby Gulf Coastal Plain and coming to the Balcones ecotonal margin of that grassland to exploit chert and probably other resources. In this interpretation, Pavo Real is seen as a suitable camping and workshop location for both generalized hunter-gatherers and for specialized big game hunters during Paleoindian times. OSL dates indicate that the mixed Clovis and Folsom materials were probably buried late in Folsom times.

The small amount of cultural lithic material excavated from beneath the mixed Paleoindian component is of interest as a possible preClovis manifestation. Nothing about the lithic materials indicates whether this is true or not, and only by establishing the age of these materials could the question be resolved. Two approaches to establishing an age for these materials were pursued; radiocarbon dating of snails, and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of fluvial sediments. In the first, results were inconclusive due to uncertainties about the true age of snail shells arising from the uptake of old carbon by snails during life. Nine Oligyra orbiculata shells were found in the matrix containing this material, and radiocarbon assays were accomplished on three of them. Since the age anomaly of these shells (caused by intake of environmental carbonates) is not well known, 3 Oligyra orbiculata shells and 3 Rabdotus shells (for which the age anomaly is better known) from both the Paleoindian and Archaic levels were also dated in an attempt to better determine the age anomaly for snail shells at this site. The results of this effort were less than satisfactory, as the error range remained too great to make any definitive statements about whether any of the material stratified below the Clovis diagnostic material preceded the known Clovis age range. In the subsequent effort, OSL dating suggests that most of these materials probably date within the generally accepted time frame for Clovis; in other words, they are not preClovis. The exception is the lowest stratigraphic unit to be dated. It contained a single chert flake and yielded an OSL age between 14,880 and 16,660 sidereal, or calendrical, years ago, considerably older than the approximately 13,600 sidereal year age for the beginning of Clovis.

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Liebowitz, Harold A.

2003 Excavations at Tel Yin’am, 1976-1989: Vol. 1 The Late Bronze Age

This volume describes the results of excavations of the Late Bronze Age levels conducted at the archaeological site of Tel Yin’am from 1976 to 1989. To date this open air site is the only fully-excavated site in the eastern Lower Galilee and serves as a type-site for this little known region. Though the site is relatively modest in size, consisting of a small mound and a significantly larger terrace settlement, it is important in the following respects: it dominates the floor of the Yavne’el Valley; it is a multi occupational site with a long history of continuous settlement, albeit with gaps, from the Neolithic to the Late Roman Period; it is located along the ancient international highway connecting northern Transjordan and the Mediterranean coast, known in Turkish times as the Darb el-Hawarnah; and it is close to an inland branch of the Via Maris. The light the site sheds on the process of cultural transmission along road systems, its evidence for international connections and trade relations with Egypt and the Aegean in the Late Bronze Age, and the site’s contribution to our knowledge of daily life and the role of the eastern Lower Galilee in the Late Bronze Age, corrects the prevailing view that this area was generally unsettled at that time. This site, with a full repertoire of local pottery of a distinctive style and imported pottery luxury items, helps to further our knowledge of the lower Galilee and establish it as a region that was far more important in the Late Bronze Age than heretofore recognized.

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Aten, Lawrence E. and Charles N. Bollich

2011 Early Ceramic Sites of the Sabine Lake Area, Coastal Texas and Louisiana

The field investigations described here are not "modern" in the sense of early 21st century research. But "modernity," a concept that keeps slipping into the past, once referred to some of these earlier investigations that are now removed by degrees from contemporary research. Curation repositories continue accumulating collections of all sorts—some excellent in their documentation and significance—that are what remains from the previously exploited archeological record. And so, a continuing dimension of modern research entails stitching together older collections to squeeze from them findings that are valuable in light of contemporary archeological knowledge and interests. Six decades ago T. N. Campbell identified the need to clarify culture history of southeast Texas-southwest Louisiana and its correlation with the better-known prehistory of adjacent areas of the upper Texas coast and south Louisiana. Since then research has roughed out the Paleoindian through Late Archaic culture history in the Sabine. The investigations reported here continue preliminary organization of the area's archeology by examining curated public and private collections made over five decades from nine sites that contain early ceramic components. Chronology: Ceramic collections from seven sites were seriated with controls based on a combination of stratigraphic succession, pattern development and by a few radiocarbon dates indicating the early ceramic cultures in the Sabine are chronologically bracketed between 2500 BP to a time somewhat earlier than 1300 BP. The earlier part of this time, characterized by Tchefuncte-related pottery, is named the Orange Period and the successor ceramic assemblage, associated more with occasional Marksville-related pottery, is named the Big Hill Period. Site Formation: Site formation was documented at Black Hill Mound, Pipkin Ranch, and Gaulding. The latter two have been published elsewhere but give compelling evidence that some Gulf Coast pimple mounds are aggradational features incorporating archeological zones (e.g., Pipkin) and that the formation of streamside shell sites (e.g., Gaulding) in the Sabine is likely to be strongly influenced by small-scale sea level fluctuations. Formation data are given here for Black Hill Mound which appears to be a mound built upon a Middle Archaic midden, then periodically elevated with mortuary and early ceramic midden layers, and then partially engulfed by sediment transported down slope toward Hillebrandt Bayou adjacent to the mound location. Settlement Patterns: There are three kinds of early ceramic sites currently identified—earth middens, brackish water shell sites, and mortuary sites. The former two site types primarily represent habitation locations. The Orange Period sites have a greater quantity and diversity of artifacts than the later Big Hill Period sites (a relationship similar to the Galveston Bay area early ceramic sites) possibly indicating more intensive habitation as in base camps. The two mortuary sites, with their unusual construction suggest ritual activities in the Sabine of greater material complexity than in the Galveston Bay and other coastal areas to the southwest. The Black Hill Mound's structure is also suggestive of similarities to the Lafayette mounds in south-central Louisiana. Technology: Particular focus was applied to learning more about ceramic vessel form. Orifice diameters were smallest on Goose Creek Plain, unspecified variety, and on the two Baytown Plain varieties while the majority of O'Neal Plain, variety Conway, and the two Tchefuncte Plain varieties had larger mouth diameters. Upper body shapes were reduced to "restricted" and "unrestricted" forms. Two-thirds of all recorded rims had unrestricted upper bodies and the ratio of restricted to unrestricted vessels was about the same for both Orange Period and Big Hill Period collections. Although base sherds were much more rare, flat bases are by far the most common, noded bottoms are next most frequent, and other shapes were very minor in occurrence. As with upper body forms, base form proportions were similar for both Orange and Big Hill periods. There was almost no evidence of sooty or charred accumulations on sherds suggesting that pottery vessels were not used directly over fire for cooking at this time. Given the absence of cobbles or clay balls for stone boiling, ceramic vessels in the Sabine may have been used seldom, if at all, for cooking but rather as storage containers for other wet and dry materials. The transition from darts with relatively large biface lithic points (and, for that matter, socketed bone points as well) to a very limited dart point assemblage accompanied by introduction of a small assemblage of biface arrow points apparently occurred in the transition from the Orange Period to the Big Hill Period. Some Orange Period biface dart points were reworked from large Early and Middle Archaic points possibly scavenged from much older sites in the Sabine. The collections contained an abundance of lithic flakes, broken tools, preforms, and so on, permitting an initial reconstruction of the biface manufacturing process as it was employed during the early ceramic. A host of other utilitarian, ornamental, and possibly ritual artifacts were recovered with their greatest abundance and variety from collections attributable to the Orange Period. Subsistence: Faunal remains were recovered and documented from three of the early ceramic sites. These combined with previously published data give a preliminary sense of vertebrate usage for that time. The major trends are a decline in the use of white-tailed deer and a significant increase in the use of small terrestrial-aquatics (especially turtles) at the end of the Taylor Bayou Period (Late Archaic) going in to the beginning of the Orange Period. The Orange Period was also a time when the use of fish, alligators, and small terrestrial animals declined. The very limited data from the Big Hill Period suggests it was a time of transition in vertebrate subsistence. Relative to the preceding Orange Period, capture of deer, alligators, and turtles again seem to increase but may decline again going into the as yet undefined late ceramic times. In the late ceramic, though, there appears to be a very large increase in the use of fish—much greater than in the preceding periods described above. Mortuary Practices: Over the last century occasional local newspaper accounts have reported the presence of many human skeletons in large shell mounds being quarried near the mouth of the Neches River. In addition, two sparsely documented early ceramic sites convey significant evidence about mortuary practices in the Sabine. Located on the western frontier of the Atakapa territory, the solitary Black Hill Mound (Archaic to Orange Period) contained a few interments accompanied by grave goods, was circular and dome-shaped, and likely was intended to be a noticeable landmark, possibly as a territorial boundary. The Dredge site, of either late Orange Period or Big Hill Period age, is an entirely different manner of structure. Situated in the heart of occupied western Atakapa territory, it was an earthen platform built atop a moderate-sized shell mound and was the place of interment of several dozen individuals. Burials in this cemetery included many grave goods. Unusual among the interments was an apparent trophy head—an adult male skull placed on a large slab of sandstone. The abundance of grave goods and special mortuary treatments in these two sites seem to imply that a particular status was required to be interred at those locations. Taken together this evidence may begin to suggest the outline of mortuary practices in the Sabine. In the center of the heavily inhabited lower Neches River was a cemetery possibly for high status people at the Dredge site. Elsewhere in the center of this territory the people of lesser status may have been interred in large numbers in mounded shell middens. Lower status people dying while away from the center may have been interred as isolated burials in peripheral locations such as were discovered at the Gaulding and Eddleman sites. And people of higher status dying while away from the center may have been buried in locations like the Black Hill structure giving a special or even sacred status to a possible territorial boundary mound. At least this is an interpretive concept that may be testable if replicated in the future. Areas to the north and east of the Sabine are well known for their large ceremonial structures and implications of complex ceremonialism. In the Sabine there is an emerging image of simpler ceremonial structures in the western Atakapa territory, and even greater simplicity in the mortuary ritual of the Galveston Bay Area—territory of the Akokisa. These circumstances may suggest, as one focus for future investigation, that the nature of the Mossy Grove Tradition of the northern Gulf coast is in delineating the final marginal dilution of Woodland culture at its southwestern limit.

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