Archaeological survey at Rancho de las Cabras, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, 41WN30, Wilson County, Texas




Cargill, Diane A.
Brown, Maureen
Nordt, Lee C.
Bousman, C. Britt

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


A two-stage archaeological investigation and preliminary geomorphological assessment was conducted at Rancho de las Cabras, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, by the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) of The University of Texas at San Antonio for the National Park Service (NPS). The investigation was prompted by NPS plans to construct a parking lot and visitors' center near the Spanish colonial ruins (41WN30). The geomorphological investigations are preliminary, with more fieldwork needed to test the proposed working model; however, the geomorphological conclusions suggest widespread potential for finding buried prehistoric sites in the alluvial terraces. Four newly identified surface lithic scatter sites were recorded and mapped. Sites 41WN90, 41WN92, and 41WN93 are presently on NPS property and 41WN91 is located on private land. These sites are located in the upland Early to Middle Pleistocene Leona Formation. Due to the paucity of surface and subsurface cultural material, and to previous subsurface disturbance in the form of deep root cutting and plowing, the four sites are considered to have minimal research potential. The three sites on NPS property are currently included in the National Register nomination filed in 1977; however, the systematic collection of surface artifacts conducted during the current investigation, has in effect, mitigated these sites by exhausting their research potential. Site 41WN91, located on private property, is not recommended as eligible for inclusion in the National Register. During the course of the archaeological investigation, two important cultural areas were identified near the Las Cabras ruins. Artifacts recovered near the western edge of the ruins demonstrate their association with the Colonial ranch; this area has been identified as culturally sensitive. West of the ruins, the second area is comprised of an isolated dark soil (over-thickened A-horizon) which may have formed from anthropogenic activities related to the Colonial ranch. Therefore, prior to any future ground disturbing activities, it is recommended that additional testing be conducted in the archaeologically sensitive area, the over-thickened A-horizon, and the alluvial terraces.



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology, Rancho de las Cabras site, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, excavations, archaeological surveying