The Lithic Articfacts of Indians at the Spanish Colonial Missions, San Antonio, Texas




Fox, Daniel E.

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


Prior to 1962, no Spanish Colonial mission in Texas had been investigated by trained archaeologists (Tunnell and Newcomb 1969:;ii). Since then, a number of Texas mission sites have received the attention of archaeologists and ethnohistorians, and in recent years the potential for the study of culture process through the interdisciplinary efforts of archaeological and ethnohistorical research has been recognized (Campbell 1973, 1975). Disparities between the methodological assumptions of ethnohistorians and archaeologists, however, have tended to reduce effective cooperation of the disciplines. Although their ultimate objective is to study and explain the processes of culture change, prehistoric archaeologists must first construct local and regional culture sequences and correlate late prehistoric culture units with the historic ethnic groups recorded by the first European travelers and explorers. Ethnohistorians, on the other hand, are attracted more to those bodies of data which are more complete, more informative, and more readily available than the earliest accounts. Confronted with a complicated, unsys-tematized assortment of ethnographic data, it is understandable that archaeologists, as amateur ethnohistorians, tend to make little more than minimal or irreffective use of ethnohistorical material (Campbell 1973:4). The development of a systematized ethnohistory for Texas researchers will, no doubt, take time. Meanwhile, recovery of threatened archaeological material and preservation, where possible, must keep pace with increasing deterioration and destruction of Spanish Colonial sites, especially mission sites which appear to have the earliest known culture assemblage that can be attributed confidently to specific historic Indian groups (Tunnell and Newcomb 1969:iii). Stemming from this, a major problem for current archaeological research in Texas concerns the formulation of techniques which will allow effective utilization of presently available cultural data from mission site investigations in ongoing problem-oriented ethnohistorical/archaeological research. The purpose of this study is to define and morphologically describe an assem-blage of lithic cultural material thought to be representative of a group of Spanish Colonial mission sites in Texas.



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology