Choke Canyon Series

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    Archaeological Investigations at 41LK201, Choke Canyon Reservoir, Southern Texas
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1986) Highley, Cheryl Lynn
    Two phases of archaeological investigations were carried out by the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, in the Choke Canyon Reservoir region in south Texas. Sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the investigations were necessitated by the impending dam construction and subsequent filling of the reservoir. During Phase I, numerous prehistoric sites were recorded and tested. As a result, several sites were recommended for additional excavations during Phase II. Site 41 LK 201 was selected for intensive investigations because it contained both Archaic and Late Prehistoric cultural remains, was well stratified, and contained preserved charcoal and faunal samples throughout the occupational zones. Phase II excavations were designed to expose the stratified components both horizontally and vertically. The Archaic deposits included a series of burned rock features which provided wood charcoal suitable for radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dates for Middle and Late Archaic deposits ranged from 1300 B.C. (derived from Phase I excavations) to 480 B.C. Diagnostic artifacts were limited to a few dart points and gougelike tools. The upper levels contained an extensive late phase Late Prehistoric occupational zone that produced Perdiz arrow points, end scrapers, bone-tempered pottery, and other types of midden debris. The extensive, concentrated nature of the Late Prehistoric zone warranted additional investigations. A UTSA Field School carried out extensive excavations that were primarily restricted to the upper 20 cm of deposits. Numerous Perdiz points, beveled knives, end scrapers, perforators or drills, bone and shell artifacts, and the largest ceramic sample from a single site in the reservoir region were recovered. Faunal remains recovered were marine shells, land snails, and a wide array of identifiable animal bone, including bison. Two radiocarbon dates, A.D. 1470-1500 and A.D. 1510-1590, were derived from these levels.
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    The Prehistoric Sites of Choke Canyon Reservoir, Southern Texas: Results of Phase II Archaeological Investigations
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1986) Hall, Grant D.; Hester, Thomas R.; Black, Stephen L.
    Reported in this volume are the results of archaeological investigations at 72 prehistoric sites located in the basin of Choke Canyon Reservoir on the Frio River in Live Oak and McMullen Counties, southern Texas. The sites investigated in this study will be affected in one way or another by a lake formed after construction of Choke Canyon Dam, a project of the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR). The research was sponsored by the USBR as the second and final phase of a two-stage program of archaeological investigations designed to mitigate damage or destruction of cultural resources resulting from dam construction and subsequent long-term inundation of a large area of the Frio River valley. Methods used to study Choke Canyon's prehistoric sites during the Phase II investigation were various types of subsurface excavations, documentation of surface features and characteristics, and collection of artifacts from site surfaces. The people who inhabited the Choke Canyon region in prehistoric times, representing an approximate span of 10,000 years, existed as mobile hunter/gatherer bands. They subsisted by tapping virtually every conceivable source of edible natural food. A full spectrum of animals, from lowly field mice and lizards up to bison and deer, was exploited by various techniques of hunting, trapping, and catching. Large land snails and mussels were sources of meat food that Choke Canyon's prehistoric people could easily gather. Gar, drum, and turtles were taken from local creeks, sloughs, and the river, perhaps using spears, nets, or weirs. Analysis of vertebrate faunal remains, results of which are presented herein, rather conclusively demonstrates that Late Prehistoric people exploited big game species more commonly than did their Archaic period predecessors. Floral products must also have comprised a substantial portion of the foods consumed by Choke Canyon's prehistoric inhabitants. Direct evidence of plant food utilization is nonexistent on the sites. However, the very common occurrence of sandstone manos and metates implies heavy reliance on seeds, nuts, or beans. Also, the tremendous amount of burned rock that accumulated in Archaic components at many sites, often found as very carefully constructed hearth features, suggests that baking or roasting activities were extremely common. Roots, tubers, stalks, and other edible plant parts may have been what was being prepared in these facilities. Diagnostic artifacts recovered from prehistoric sites at Choke Canyon during the various phases of archaeological investigation clearly indicate that the general vicinity witnessed aboriginal activity from Paleo-Indian times up through the early Historic period. Evidence of Paleo-Indian people is limited to surface finds along the valley margin and on high, ancient terrace formations down in the river valley. No in situ subsurface Paleo-Indian components have yet been isolated at Choke Canyon. Where previously the earliest subsurface component known at Choke Canyon dated to the Middle Archaic period (ca. 3400 B.C. to 2400 B.C.), the Phase II excavations led to discovery of an Early Archaic component dating to the period from 5000 B.C. to 4000 B.C. While recognizable Paleo-Indian, Early Archaic, and Middle Archaic components are relatively scarce, the Late Archaic and Late Pre-historic periods are amply represented in the prehistoric sites at Choke Canyon. Phase II investigations also produced the first clear indication of an aboriginal component containing evidence of contact with Anglo-Europeans in early historic times. The bulk of cultural, paleobotanical, and vertebrate faunal data representing the prehistory of Choke Canyon indicates that floral and faunal communities and the general climatic regime remained essentially unchanged from at least 4000 B.C. up to the period in historic times when certain livestock and land management practices led to a drastic expansion of brush communities and severe erosion of formerly stable land surfaces.
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    A Study of Five Historic Cemeteries at Choke Canyon Reservoir, Live Oak and McMullen Counties, Texas
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1984) Fox, Anne A.
    From December 1981 to November 1982, archaeologists from the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation aided in relocation of five historic cemeteries at Choke Canyon Reservoir in Live Oak and McMullen Counties. Thirty-four graves were located, uncovered, recorded, and removed to other cemeteries. During the process, descendants of the families involved provided valuable information on grave locations and identification. Observations were made which will be useful to other archaeologists engaged in similar projects. Information was compiled on customs and traditions of the people of the area in respect to death and burial.
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    Excavations at Sites 41LK31/32 and 41LK202 in the Choke Canyon Reservoir, South Texas
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1982) Scott, Robert F., IV; Fox, Daniel E.
    Site 41 LK 31/32 is located in Live Oak County, southern Texas on a wide horseshoe bend of the Frio River, approximately 16 km west of the Frio's confluence with the Nueces River. Construction of the Choke Canyon Reservoir by the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) had necessitated an excavation program at the site prior to destruction. Investigations conducted by the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, were carried out in two stages, culminating in a major excavation during the summer of 1978. An indication of the depth and significance of cultural deposits at the site occurred in 1977 when the Bureau of Reclamation dug a series of 9 m deep geological test pits. Prehistoric occupation zones beginning at a depth of 2.5 meters and continuing to the surface were exposed. The coincidental location of necessary dam ingredients--specific clays and gravel and the site--prompted testing and, later, intensive excavation by the Center for Archaeological Research. Artifacts and depositional information derived from the field work established 41 LK 31/32 as the location of intermittent occupation by hunting and gathering peoples for more than 5000 years stretching from the Early Archaic through the Late Archaic.
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    Excavations at 41LK67, a Prehistoric Site in the Choke Canyon Reservoir, South Texas
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1982) Brown, Kenneth M.; Potter, Daniel R.; Hall, Grant D.; Black, Stephen L.
    In 1977-1978 excavations were conducted at 41 LK 67 in Live Oak County, south Texas, by the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio. The investigation of this prehistoric archaeological site was part of an extensive program of reconnaissance and excavation necessitated by the construction of the Choke Canyon Reservoir on the Frio River by the Bureau of Reclamation. The site is situated in shallow colluvial deposits capping an old terrace remnant of the Frio River. The excavations involved 193 m2 in three separate areas and revealed in situ Late Prehistoric and Late Archaic components. Recognizably older artifacts (including patinated chert flakes) from the surface and from excavations may represent older disturbed components or artifacts collected prehistorically from nearby sites. Radiocarbon dates, with medians ranging from 1590 to 660 B.C. (MASCA correction) are available only from the Late Archaic component. The principal kinds of debris recovered from the excavations are fire-cracked rock, cores and chipping debris, shells of snails and freshwater mussels, plainware potsherds, and chipped stone tools. Mussel shell was surprisingly abundant; more than 9000 specimens, including 3000 specimens identified taxonomically, were recovered. Fish otoliths were the only animal bones preserved, except for a few recent, intrusive elements. Debris frequencies from the two larger excavation blocks (Areas A and B) were factor analyzed. In most cases the analysis showed the strongest covariation occurring among different classes of chipping debris. For Area C factor analysis indicated that the strongest spatial patterning occurred in the upper part of the deposits. Unfortunately, the analysis was not particularly successful in defining activity sets. The small collection of chipped stone tools was examined microscopically. Two tool classes in particular, distally beveled tools ("gouges") and quadrilateral bifaces ("beveled knives") seem to represent more functionally specific tool forms, but other hafted bifaces (projectile points) show a wide range of use wear mostly unrelated to projectile use.
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    Archaeological Testing and Collecting at Choke Canyon Reservoir, Nueces River Project, Texas
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1981) Weed, Carol S.; Shafer, Harry J.
    This monograph reports the findings made during the summer of 1977 of test excavations and/or surface collections at 17 prehistoric archaeological sites in the Choke Canyon Reservoir area. The work was carried out by Texas A&M University for the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio. The field work was conducted to assess the archaeological potential of each site in order to advance recommendations for further investigations. The artifact samples, although meager, are described and these data are incorporated with other information from each site towards an overall site evaluation. Recommendations for further work are also included at the end of the report.
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    Archaeological Investigations at Choke Canyon Reservoir, South Texas: The Phase I Findings
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1982) Hall, Grant D.; Black, Stephen L.; Graves, Carol
    Findings resulting from archaeological investigations at 116 prehistoric sites located in Live Oak and McMullen Counties, southern Texas, are reported. All of the sites occur within or alongside the basin of Choke Canyon Reservoir, an impoundment formed by damming the Frio River. Sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the research effort constitutes Phase I of a two phase program intended to partially compensate for adverse alterations and/or destruction of cultural resources resulting from dam construction and subsequent filling of Choke Canyon Reservoir. Data collection methods applied during the Phase I archaeological investigations at Choke Canyon included extensive excavations, intensive and minimal testing, and provenienced and unprovenienced surface collections. Information obtained as these various procedures were carried out provides evidence for the presence of humans in the area from Paleo-Indian through Late Prehistoric times. Remains of human activity dating to the Paleo-Indian and Early Archaic periods were found only along the valley margins and on old, high terrace remnants down in the Frio River valley. Beginning about 3400 B.C., settlement patterns shifted to include sites along sloughs and channels in the deeper reaches of the valley. In later Archaic times and during the Late Prehistoric, primary habitational activity took place at sites beside the sloughs and channels, but peripheral terrace, valley margin, and upland edge sites also bear signs of specialized and/or short-term activities during these same periods. Through all periods of Choke Canyon's prehistory, humans subsisted by hunting and gathering natural food resources available in the area, although presumed food residues are scarce at the majority of the sites. Mussel shells and shells of large land snails were the subsistence remains most commonly recovered. Vertebrate faunal remains were recovered in appreciable amounts at only a few of the sites investigated. These limited remains suggest that Archaic populations placed a great emphasis on small animals, fish, mussels, and snails as meat sources. In the Late Prehistoric, a greater variety of animals was consumed, including bison, antelope, javelina, and deer. Grinding slabs and manos found in all areas of Choke Canyon indicate that plant foods, probably seeds, beans, and nuts, were relied upon by people during all periods of local prehistory. Floral species identified from carbonized wood specimens include mesquite, acacia, spiny hackberry, oak, juniper, ash, and willow, indicating all were present at Choke Canyon at various times in prehistory. The recognition of mesquite remains in deposits radiocarbon dated to 1300 B.C. is considered especially significant. These findings will be used to formulate plans for the Phase II archaeological research effort at Choke Canyon Reservoir.
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    The 1979 Archaeological Survey of Portions of the Choke Canyon Reservoir in Live Oak and McMullen Counties, Texas
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1981) Roemer, Erwin, Jr.
    The Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, conducted an intensive surface survey aimed at location and evaluation of cultural resources in portions of the Choke Canyon Reservoir in Live Oak and McMullen Counties, Texas. The survey was conducted between May and September 1979. The area examined consists of approximately 8400 acres (3400 hectares) located in areas not previously available for survey. A total of 94 archaeological sites, 86 low density scatters, and 20 isolated finds was recorded. This total includes 16 historic sites or site components and 14 sites containing Late Prehistoric materials. The remaining prehistoric sites are either Archaic or of an unidentified cultural period. A total of 32 sites is recommended for further field evaluations. Site recording and preliminary evaluation took precedence, and minimal artifact collections were made. The previous work in the area by the Texas Historical Commission and Texas Tech University strongly influenced survey methodology and evaluation. Concluding interpretations present a discussion of the current state of settlement system investigations and an affirmation of the basic cultural models presented by earlier workers.
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    An Archaeological Survey of a Portion of the Choke Canyon Reservoir Area in McMullen and Live Oak Counties, Texas
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1981) Thoms, Alston V.; Montgomery, John L.; Portnoy, Alice W.
    An intensive cultural resource survey was carried out on approximately 2544 hectares (6285 acres) of the proposed Choke Canyon Reservoir by the Cultural Resources Institute (CRI) of Texas Tech University from August through October 1977. The project was undertaken in response to needs of the Bureau of Reclamation. This report is one of a multivolume study concerning the area's cultural resources. During the 1977 survey, 113 archaeological sites, 42 low density artifact scatters, and five isolated finds were located and recorded. A no-collection policy was maintained, except isolated finds. In the late fall 1977, 15 of the recorded sites were subjected to limited testing activities. The cultural resources recorded during the survey document the presence of human groups in the reservoir beginning in late Paleo-Indian times and extending to the present. Based upon the limited occurrence of diagnostic artifacts, most of the prehistoric occupation occurred during the Archaic. Historic sites recorded were occupied primarily during the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. This report documents the research design and particularly the methodology utilized during the project. Special emphasis is given to describing the systematic and intensive survey, as well as to the random/judgmental approach of selecting the various sites for limited testing. Cultural material recovered during testing activities are described in techno-morphological terms. The nature of survey projects in general and the paucity of reliable time markers recovered during field work severely limited the development of a cultural chronology for the study area. Research efforts resulted in the development of a model of lithic technology based on the ready availability of raw materials. Also presented is a settlement and subsistence pattern model which is based primarily on a rainy and dry season dichotomy and the availability of food resources.
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    Historical Resources of the Choke Canyon Reservoir Area in McMullen and Live Oak Counties, Texas
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1981) Everett, Dianna; Bandy, Philip A.
    This is the second in a series of volumes published on the cultural resources of the Choke Canyon reservoir area of southern Texas. Research has been underway in the reservoir basin since 1977 under the terms of Contract No. 7-07-50-V0897 (Nueces River Project) between the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio and the Bureau of Reclamation of the United States Department of the Interior. The original contract constituted Phase I of the cultural resource investigations. During Phase I, the Cultural Resources Institute of Texas Tech University worked under a subcontract with the Center for Archaeological Research in carrying out a program that involved a study of the area's history, an examination of the historical archaeology, and a site survey. This volume, along with Volume 3 of the Choke Canyon Series, fulfills the subcontract agreement of Texas Tech University. Part I of the present volume is the work of a professional historian and follows a format standard among historians. For example, the citations of references differ from those typical of an archaeological report format as seen in Part II. The careful reader will notice other aspects of style and format in this volume that differ from previously published reports of the Center for Archaeological Research; this reflects the fact, that the manuscript was typed in final form by the Cultural Resources Institute at Texas Tech. We have, however, modified the bibliographies to conform to Center format. Part I, by Dianna Everett, is an important summary of the history of the Choke Canyon region. It can be used in conjunction with Volume 1, dealing with the historic Indian populations, to obtain an overview of the historic cultural patterns of the region. Part II, authored by Philip A. Bandy, is a detailed study of historical sites investigated under the Cultural Resources Institute subcontract. It is a major contribution to the understanding of early Anglo-Hispanic utilization of what is now Live Oak and McMullen Counties. Sharon G. Quirk, Thomas R. Hester, August 27, 1981
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    Historic Indian Groups of the Choke Canyon Reservoir and Surrounding Area, Southern Texas
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1981) Campbell, T. N.; Campbell, T. J.
    One of the principal objectives of the study reported herein has been to identify and present descriptive information recorded by Europeans about Indian groups who at various times during the historic period lived in or ranged over the area immediately surrounding the projected Choke Canyon Reservoir of southern Texas. This reservoir, located about 60 miles south of San Antonio, is associated with the lower Frio River above its junction with the Nueces River and lies within the northern parts of McMullen and Live Oak Counties. It has been the focus of recent archaeological investigation by the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio. The Choke Canyon Reservoir locality was not on any common route of European travel, particularly during the early historic period; and it is therefore difficult to identify by name very many of the Indian groups who, as hunters and gatherers, actually ranged over the lands that are to be inundated. The best that can be done is to discover the names of Indian groups seen or reported in the general area between the year 1528, when Europeans first penetrated the mainland of southern Texas, and the mid-nineteenth century, when the area was virtually cleared of all Indians that were either native to the area or were refugees from other areas. In order to define a target area for documentary research, a circle with a 50-mile radius was drawn on a map of southern Texas, the modern community of Three Rivers serving as its center (Fig. 1). This inscribed circle includes all of Bee, Live Oak, and McMullen Counties and parts of all adjacent counties. An effort was made to examine enough historical documents to discover the names of all Indian groups who at various times were reported in or fairly close to the encircled area, and then to assemble such information as was recorded about them before their ethnic identities were lost. The route (Fig. 1) of the earliest European traveler, Cabeza de Vaca, from the lower Guadalupe River southwestward to the summer prickly-pear collecting grounds of the Mariames and other Indian groups, appears to have crossed the peripheral portion of the target area in its southeastern quadrant. If the route interpretation is correct, it is possible to identify and plot the relative locations of certain Indian groups for the years 1534-1535. But it was not until the 1680s that Spaniards again visited this part of southern Texas, leaving a gap of approximately 150 years in the written records and making it especially difficult to establish continuities for its earliest known Indian groups. Actually the target area was seldom visited by Europeans until Spanish missions began to be built at San Antonio in 1718 and at Goliad in 1749. By this time, the general Indian population decline and territorial displacement by immigrant Spaniards and Apache Indians had disrupted the earlier group distribution patterns. The eighteenth-century documents are frequently vague about group locations and say very little about languages spoken or cultural similarities and differences. After 1780 the truly aboriginal groups of southern Texas slowly disappear from primary records. except those which refer to remnants of various Indian groups still living at a few Spanish missions. Since there is such a large time gap between the few Cabeza de Vaca documents and the more numerous documents of the later Spanish Colonial period, this report is presented in two parts, one covering the groups known to Cabeza de Vaca, the other covering Indian groups known after the Spanish settlement frontier had moved into what is now northeastern Mexico and southern Texas.