Test excavations and monitoring at 41BX1598: a multicomponent historic site in Bexar County, Texas
From September through December of 2003, the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) at The University of Texas at San Antonio performed archaeological testing and monitoring at site 41BX1598, the location for the proposed San Fernando Community Center. The site is adjacent to Military Plaza in downtown San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The work performed by CAR was done under contract with the San Antonio Archdiocese, and was conducted in accordance with and under the jurisdiction of the City Preservation Ordinance (Article VI, Historic Preservation and Urban Design, City of San Antonio, Unified Development Code). Dr. Steve Tomka served as the Principal Investigator and Antonia Figueroa was the Project Archaeologist. The proposed San Fernando Community Center will consist of a City Public Service (CPS) vault for utilities, two parking areas, and one large Community Center building. The initial phase of construction work consisted of excavations associated with the construction of the CPS vault. CAR's involvement in the project was initiated after that excavation was complete and it became evident that the vault excavation cut through what appeared to be Colonial-age deposits. Using a variety of methods, including archival research, backhoe trenches, shovel tests, and hand excavations, CAR archaeologists sampled two Colonial-age middens, recorded a variety of wall segments, including one which may be Colonial in age, and documented use of the location from the 1700s through the early 1900s. Our work at the site recovered over 1,400 ceramics, 174 pieces of metal, 181 fragments of glass, 291 pieces of chipped stone debitage, two projectile points, six gun flints, more than 13,000 fragments of animal bone, and numerous pieces of burned rock. The remains of several domesticated and wild taxa, including bison, antelope, and fish, were recovered from the middens. Flotation analysis of matrix from one of the middens produced charcoal from a variety of different locally available woods, and while several carbonized mesquite seeds and nut shell fragments (pecan) were recovered, no domesticated species were present in the ethnobotanical samples. Analysis of the faunal material from the middens suggests the possibility that subsistence changed during the Colonial period. Faunal remains from the earliest deposits are dominated by small body sized animals, while later deposits reflect an increased emphasis on large and very large mammals. The stratified nature of selected midden deposits also allowed us to question some of the commonly assumed date ranges for selected ceramic types. Following the completion of field work, CAR obtained site trinomial 41BX1598 for the location from the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory in Austin. After analysis, the bone and the burned rock were discarded in conformance with Texas Historical Commission guidelines and in agreement with the City of San Antonio Historic Preservation office. The remaining artifacts, along with all associated field and laboratory notes, project maps, photos, and other documents, are curated at the Center for Archaeological Research at The University of Texas at San Antonio under this trinomial.