Archaeological investigations of rainwater catchment basins along the south wall of Mission San José, San Antonio, Texas




Tomka, Steve A.
Fox, Anne A.

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Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio


In February and early March 1998, the Center for Archaeological Research of The University of Texas at San Antonio, conducted excavations outside the south wall and in the general vicinity of the southeast gate of Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo (41BX3) for the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park of the National Park Service (NPS). The site is located ca. seven miles south of downtown San Antonio on a high terrace overlooking the west bank of the San Antonio River. The general purpose of the excavations was to determine the nature and content of the subsurface deposits in advance of the excavation of three drainage basins and connecting drain pipes under the three eastern-most canales adjacent the southeast gate. Specifically, the excavations had three goals: 1) identify any architectural features that may have originally been outside of the mission walls; 2) better define the stratigraphy of the cultural materials in the area; and 3) recover intact colonial period materials that might otherwise be lost. The excavations showed that: 1) large quantities of bones are present along the 102-ft-Iong portion of the wall; 2) much of the cultural material-bearing matrix found above the sterile Houston Black Clay has been stripped away along the planned route of the main drainage line; and 3) a thick caliche layer located in the westernmost catch basin may cap deeper deposits containing primarily Goliad wares. In addition, the excavations revealed two features, a historic period brazier and two intersecting hearths. We recommend that all work associated with the construction of the three catch basins and connecting pipes proceed as planned.



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology, San Antonio, Bexar County, excavations, Spanish missions, archaeological surveying