A preliminary archaeological survey for the Conquista Project in Gonzales, Atascosa, and Live Oak Counties, Texas




McGraw, A. Joachim

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


During late February and early March 1979, an archaeological and historical survey of the Jacobs, Tom Retzloff and Smith-Stridde properties in Gonzales, Atascosa and Live Oak Counties was conducted. These properties are leased by the Continental Oil Company. The purpose of the survey was to evaluate the archaeological and historic potential of these properties before the leases are extensively modified by proposed uranium mining operations. The survey was conducted under the terms of a contract between Continental Oil Company's Project, as represented by Mr. Morris Merritt and Mr. Charles Salsman, and Dr. Thomas R. Hester, Director, Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio. The field survey was conducted by A. Joachim McGraw and Herb Uecker, Technical Staff Assistants of the Center, and under the general supervision of Dr. Hester. A detailed examination of artifacts collected during the survey was initiated following field operations. Four separate areas were surveyed during field investigations (see Fig. 1): the Jacobs property in southeastern Gonzales County; the adjacent Smith and Stridde properties in northern Live Oak County; and the Tom Retzloff property in eastern Atascosa County. Each locality was specifically identified on USGS 1:24,000 scale topographic maps. At each location, the survey consisted of a series of transects that encompassed both upland and lowland areas. For convenience in the field, the study areas were often divided into quadrants determined by distinctive topographic features such as drainages, high upland areas, etc. These quadrants were then transected individually to insure more complete survey coverage and for better field control, especially in areas of dense brush where map correlations were difficult. Research methodology generally followed the guidelines presented in Hester, Heizer and Graham (1975). Site designations were determined by the type and amount of artifactual materials on the surface, and collection of materials during the survey was limited to diagnostic or otherwise significant artifacts. Representative random judgment samples (Redman 1974; McGraw and Valdez 1978) were collected from sites where large quantities of lithic debitage were exposed. Special surface collections were made at these sites to enhance the perspective of prehistoric lithic characteristics in the study area. Elevations and distances of sites to water sources and other natural resources were also important considerations in site descriptions. Data on the newly discovered sites were recorded on standard site survey forms used by the Center for Archaeological Research, and all collected materials were placed in paper or plastic bags and labeled as to site number, date, type of collection, name of collector and other pertinent site information. Several soil samples were taken at selected site locations when washes or other erosional features revealed buried deposits. These samples were taken primarily to (1) objectively distinguish soil zone colors using a Munsell color chart and (2) to identify other basic soil characteristics and associations through later laboratory research. Due to the widely distributed property areas across three counties of south Texas, a general research design was initiated prior to field survey operations to maximize data gathering efforts. The surveys were directed not only toward individual site identifications but also toward a description of the macro-environmental conditions in which the sites were located. Combined with background ethnographic and historical research, the research methodology was directed toward a preliminary description of intersite relationships and, if possible, toward an areal distribution of various prehistoric technological processes as reflected from the archaeological record on the surface (see Figs. 2,3). This concept of not only identifying sites but also viewing them within the perspective of cultural and environmental relationships was considered to more accurately reflect the character and importance of each archaeological site.



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology, Indians of North America, Gonzales County, Atascosa County, Live Oak County