Archaeology Update — Bollard Installation Finished in Two Areas

Kristi Nichols, Director of Archaeology, Collections and Historical Research
January 29, 2020

Safety Bollards continued to be installed in specific areas around the perimeter of Alamo Plaza. Bollards have been installed in two areas and these locations have been re-opened for public access. One of these areas includes a segment of the bollard alignment at the south end of the Plaza, near the Menger Hotel. The other area is located at the northwest corner of the Plaza near the Cenotaph.

Currently, work has focused on trying to install the bollards on the west side of the Plaza. The goal is to complete that segment prior to the start of Commemoration, in late February. Other areas currently fenced off will open as the bollard installation is completed.

Archaeological investigations continued at the Church and Long Barrack as part of the preservation work. This week, the lead archaeologist recommended placing an excavation unit on the exterior of the south wall of the Long Barrack. Cobbled stones were noted at a depth of approximately 5 feet below the surface on the interior of the Long Barrack. The archaeologists are interested to determine if similar stones would be observed in the unit on the exterior. This information would help determine if the stones are naturally occurring or evidence of people preparing the terrain for the creation of the structure foundation.

The excavations started during the week encountered mixed, disturbed soils in the upper levels. The presence of these mixed soils is not abnormal due to the amount of construction and improvements that have occurred in the Plaza over the many years.

Green bollards in Alamo Plaza
Figure 1. Finished bollards in the southwest region of the Plaza.
Excavation unit in Long Barrack
Figure 2. New unit location on the south side of the Long Barrack.

Other excavations occurring associated with the preservation work focused on units that had already been in progress. The unit on the north side of the Church is reaching deeper depths, but has not encountered any compacted layers that may represent floors or living surfaces. It is possible that previous construction work, such as the installation of the utility vault that overlaps this unit, has disturbed the area.

Long Barrack improvement efforts in 1976
Figure 3. Photograph of south side of Long Barrack showing improvement efforts in 1976.
Storm drain installation in 1970s on the southwest side of the Long Barrack
Figure 4. Storm drain installation in 1970s on the southwest side of the Long Barrack, near the current excavation unit.

On the other side of the north wall of the Church, the paired unit has continued with excavations. A compacted surface had been noted earlier, but no additional surfaces have been encountered as the excavations progress. Handmade pottery sherds, various types of ceramics, glass fragments, and metal artifacts continue to be recovered from this interior unit. Until the middle portion of the Mission Period, this room of the Church had functioned as a patio, open to the Convento Courtyard, possibly explaining the presence of such a varied collection of artifacts.

Excavation on the north side of Alamo Church
Figure 5. Excavation continuing on the north side of the Church.
Pottery shreds
Figure 6. Photo of pottery sherds (front and back views) recovered from inside the Church, approximately 60–70 cm below the datum.