Long Barrack Archaeology Update - December 1

December 1, 2023

Archaeologists were back this week after the Thanksgiving holiday. Excavations continued in units 1, 3, and 5. The lab was also busy this week processing artifacts.

In Excavation Unit - 1, archaeologists reached a depth of 120 cm below surface. A circular feature with inclusions of lime and small gravels was present and appears to extend deeper and possibly wider. Artifact counts were low.

Inside of an excavation unit
EU-1 excavation, facing west
Inside of an excavation unit with a circular feature at the bottom
Circular feature in EU-1, facing east

In Excavation Unit-3, archaeologists reached the terminal depth for hand excavation, 150 cm below surface. The soils in the final levels were devoid of artifacts. The natural hardpan was beginning to appear in the northern half of the unit. Archaeologists will produce detailed maps of each unit profile before it is closed. The remaining depth will be achieved through mechanical excavation as the unit will be too deep for archaeologists to safely enter.

In Excavation Unit-5, archaeologists encountered an intentional surface at approximately 90 cm below surface. This surface was comprised of a lime and gravel mixture and extended across the unit. Artifacts associated with this feature include lead glaze ceramics.

Terminal depth inside of an excavation unit
Terminal depth of EU-3, facing north
Inside of an excavation unit with a stone feature in the corner
EU-5 excavation, facing west.

In the lab, archaeologists processed artifacts. This initial phase of artifact processing includes washing, separating, and tagging artifacts that have been recovered from field excavations. A few of the favorite artifacts that were processed this week are a gaming piece, sandy paste lead glaze ceramics, and a reutilized stone tool.

A gaming piece was recovered from EU-1 at approximately 120 cm below surface. The gaming piece is a six-sided die crafted from faunal bone. Gaming pieces are uncommon artifacts recovered within the Alamo footprint.

Several sandy pasted lead glazed ceramic sherds were recovered from EU-3 at approximately 80 cm below surface. Sandy pasted lead glaze were typically utilitarian vessels, This ceramic type composed of a coarse sandy paste with a yellow tinted lead glaze on the interior surface. This ceramic type is commonly found at the Alamo site and across Mission sites in Texas. This type of ceramic was likely imported from Mexico, and dates approximately from 1700 to 1800.

A chipped stone tool was discovered in EU-1 at approximately 110 cm below surface. Chipped stone refers to the manufacturing process of chipping flakes off of a core to produce a tool, known as flintknapping The shape of this artifact suggests it started its life as a projectile point  and then was reworked. The reshaping of the tool may have been an effort to produce a cutting implement, such as a knife. The tool is manufactured out of chert, a common material used in stone tools, and an abundant resource in Texas.

A bone die next to a ruler for size
EU-1, faunal bone die
Ceramic fragments next to a ruler for size
EU-3, ceramic sherds
Stone tool next to a ruler to show size
EU-1, reworked stone tool