National Register of Historic Places Eligibility Testing of 41WN120 at the Helton San Antonio River Nature Park in Wilson County, Texas




Munoz, Cynthia M.

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


From January 18 through January 31, 2011 the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) of the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) conducted limited eligibility testing at 41WN120. The site was previously identified during a 2010 intense pedestrian archaeological survey of the proposed Helton San Antonio River Nature Park located near Floresville, in Wilson County, Texas (Munoz 2010). The site is on land that is slated for phased in park improvements. The construction of a park road, a turnaround, a pavilion, and a nature center will impact the southwestern portion of 41WN120, an area identified in the 2010 survey as containing a high-density of buried cultural materials. The testing, conducted under the requirements of the Texas Antiquities Code, was performed under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 5854, with Dr. Steve Tomka serving as Principal Investigator and Cynthia Moore Munoz serving as Project Archaeologist. The work was conducted in advance of the proposed improvements. The testing involved mechanical backhoe trenching, hand auger boring, and the hand excavation of a limited number of test units. Testing confirmed that the southwestern portion of 41WN120, located along a bluff overlooking Calaveras Creek, contains a high-density of cultural material. The site consists of two broad temporal components. The upper component produced one temporally diagnostic artifact, a Marcos point, dating the component to the Late Archaic period. The lower component contained three diagnostics, an Early Triangular point, an Angostura point, and a Guadalupe tool, associating the component with the Early Archaic period. One radiocarbon date, obtained from a piece of isolated charcoal in the upper portion of the lower component confirmed this time designation. No features were encountered but burned rock was collected from throughout the components suggesting the presence of buried thermal features. A detailed debitage and tool analysis suggests that the excavated lithic material from the lower component represents late stage reduction focusing on tool production. The high density of cultural materials, burned rock suggesting buried thermal features, intact sediments, diagnostic artifacts in good context in conjunction with a radiocarbon date, and the depth of buried prehistoric material suggest that the southwest portion of 41WN120, near the bluff, possesses high potential for future research. It is the CAR’s assessment that the integrity of deposits dating to the Early Archaic occupation of 41WN120 is good. The CAR recommends that the portion of 41WN120 with high-density cultural material be listed as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) under criterion D of 36CRF 60.4, in that the site has and is likely to yield information significant in prehistory. The CAR also recommends listing as a State Archaeological Landmark (SAL) under criterion 1, 2, and 3 of 13TAC26.8. We recommend that this portion of 41WN120 remain off limits to any construction activities and that the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) develop a plan to protect the area. If this portion of 41WN120 cannot be avoided, then the CAR recommends the development of a plan to recover significant data from the area of high-density artifact concentration. We further recommend that the remainder of site 41WN120, the area off of the high-density artifact concentration, does not contribute to the eligibility of the site and therefore, proposed improvements may proceed as planned away from the high-density concentration. In addition to the recommendation of eligibility, as a result of the 2010 survey of the property, the CAR recommended, that the historic brick ruin adjacent to the high-density artifact area be protected (see Munoz 2010). The Texas Historic Commission (THC) and SARA agreed with the CAR’s recommendation to protect of this historic building. Following laboratory processing and analysis, and in consultation with both SARA and the THC, all burned rock, snail, and sediment samples collected on the project were discarded. This discard was in conformance with THC guidelines. All remaining archaeological samples collected by the CAR, along with all associated artifacts, documents, notes, and photographs, were prepared for curation according to THC guidelines and are permanently curated at the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio.



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology, archaeological surveying, Wilson County