Archaeological mitigation at 41 BX 300, Salado Creek Watershed, south-central Texas
Site 41 BX 300, a multicomponent limited activity occupation site situated in the upper Salado Creek watershed of northern Bexar County, Texas, was first recorded in 1971 and initially tested in 1975 and 1976. This report concerns three months of mitigation work conducted in 1978 by the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio. Geomorphological investigation has determined that the site locality only became stable enough to make habitation suitable in the middle of the post-Pleistocene period. At that time its peripheral resources included a permanent water source in the Elm Waterhole Creek, immediately adjacent to the site, and two nearby chipped stone resource areas. Investigation by means of controlled surface collection in 10-m blocks, hand excavation of 121 one-meter squares, and 18 backhoe-cut trenches removed 335 m3 of soil, recovered over 110,000 specimens and samples, recorded 10 cultural features, and identified four periods of occupation. Artifacts diagnostic of the Early Archaic period were recovered in random locations and redeposited situations, not associated with any features. No occupation of the site at this time is identifiable, supporting the geomorphological evidence of instability. The first well-represented occupation occurred early in the Middle Archaic period, ca. 2600-500 B.C. Three burned rock hearths and diagnostic artifacts, such as Bulverde, Nolan, and Travis projectile points, and associated tools indicate a faunal procurement and processing suite of activities. Stratigraphically higher and later in time an occupation late in the Middle Archaic period (ca. 500-250 B.C.) was discerned, characterized by one burned rock midden and an adjacent burned rock scatter which may be an incipient midden. There was no evidence of primary activity associated with it, and the interpretation is that of a "community dump." The presence of Pedernales projectile points assist with the chronological placement within the Round Rock phase. Higher in the topsoil are two burned rock hearths and an associated living floor assigned to the Late Archaic period (ca. 250 B.C.-A.D. 750) on the basis of diagnostic projectile point types such as Castroville, Ensor, Frio, and Marcos. While there is some artifactual evidence for vegetal processing, most of the artifacts indicate faunal procurement and processing activities. The fourth and final occupation at the site occurred during the Late Prehistoric period (ca. A.D. 750-1800). Diagnostic artifacts of both the Austin and Toyah phases are present in a very restricted and intensively utilized 12-m2 area close to ground surface. Faunal procurement and processing and chipped stone tool manufacture and maintenance, are the primary activity clusters represented. The Historic period is represented by a few scattered artifacts, hardly indicative of intentional occupation. Site 41 BX 300 functioned as a hunting camp for over four millenia, from early in the Middle Archaic through the Late Prehistoric cultural periods. The attraction of this site over other potential hunting loci was most likely the combination of a constant water source in the Elm Waterhole and abundant lithic raw materials. Use of space at the site and in particular the treatment of burned rock features varies with each cultural period, providing comparative behavioral data for future investigation of south-central Texas prehistory.