Archaeological survey of Huntsville State Park and excavations in 41WA47, Walker County, Texas




Greaves, Russell D.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


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


Two archaeological field efforts were performed at Huntsville State Park, Walker County, Texas in May and July 2001. An archaeological survey examined the areas to be impacted by rehabilitation and expansion of roads, parking areas, campground pullouts, and utilities (160 acres/65 ha). Additional testing and limited mitigation was performed at 41WA47, a previously identified archaeological site. This work was conducted by the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio in contractual agreement with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPW) under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 2610. During the archaeological survey, three previously unidentified sites (41WA264, 41WA265, and 41WA266) were recorded. None of these appear to merit designation as official State Archeological Landmarks (SAL) or listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). No additional archaeological testing is recommended for these sites. Shovel testing conducted in the vicinity of a previously recorded site, 41WA228, identified a significantly larger site extent. Archaeological materials from shovel tests here were moderately abundant and extended to the basal depths of testing (~60 cm below ground surface) in several of the units. However, at least a portion of the existing cultural material on-site has been severely impacted by previous road construction and park facilities improvements. Given the increased site size, the SAL and NRHP eligibility of the site remains unknown. While the proposed road improvements will impact the cultural deposits falling in the immediate vicinity of the road, it is recommended that TPW Cultural Resource Coordinator, Art Black, monitor construction within the impact area and halt work if and/orwhen cultural deposits and features are encountered –to evaluate the nature and significance of the deposits in consultation with the Texas Historical Commission. The second portion of archaeological field efforts, the examination of site 41WA47, involved three work efforts: 1) shovel testing was performed to assess the previously identified boundaries of the site, locate deep deposits that have not been subject to extensive erosion, and produce additional information about spatial variation in the archaeological deposit; 2) a 28-m (92-ft) long backhoe trench was excavated to provide geomorphic and stratigraphic information about site formation and cultural deposition; and, 3) controlled excavation of nineteen 1 x 1-m units was performed in four areas of the site as a limited mitigation effort. Charcoal samples from one block excavation produced a chronosequence of six AMS dates, indicating multiple occupations between ~1900–1500 BP (AD 50–450) and 500–400 BP (AD 1450–1550). Abundant lithics (n=3,717) included a large number of diagnostic projectile points (n=36). Ceramics (n=471) and highly fractured bone (n=1,264) also were relatively abundant. Excavation data strongly suggest good to high integrity of these deposits. Paleobotanical recovery identified charcoal, carbonized hickory nutshells, and abundant but heavily weathered phytoliths. The site has already been designated a SAL. Results of this investigation indicate 41WA47 possesses a very significant potential for research on site formation, multiple occupation dynamics, technology, and subsistence. The proposed road construction will affect several portions of 41WA47. Erosion caused by park facility construction and maintenance has impacted parts of the site. Heavy park visitation has also initiated significant erosion around camping facilities located within the site. Because of the scientific value of 41WA47 and the ongoing degradation, the following actions are recommended to protect the significant cultural deposits of the site: 1) Remove campground pullouts 63, 64, and 65 from camping use and return those areas to a natural state; 2) Prevent the digging of temporary barbecue/roasting pits by park visitors restricting fires to designated fire rings and barbecue stands, and restrict ash and charcoal disposal to designated areas; and, 3) Identify erosion control measures for the site to stabilize the ground surface preventing further erosion and impact to the buried deposits.



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology, archaeological surveying, excavations, Walker County, Huntsville State Park, projectile points, paleobotanical, erosion, campground