Long Barrack Archaeology Update - December 8

December 8, 2023

Archaeologists continue to work in EUs 1, 3, and 5, as well as processing artifacts in the lab.

In EU-1 archaeologists reached a depth of approximately 130 cm below datum. Soils are transitioning to a clay-rich deposit and artifacts are less frequent than previous levels.

In EU-3 archaeologists completed final documentation of the unit. Detailed soil profiles were created for all four walls of the unit. A final plan view map was also produced. This unit will now sit idle until the remaining depth is mechanically excavated. Archaeologists stopped excavation at 150 cm below surface because any deeper would exceed the OSHA-determined safe depth before shoring is required.

Excavations continued in EU-5. Archaeologists have reached a depth of approximately 110 cm below surface. A compacted lime-surface, or floor, was encountered at approximately 117 cm below surface. This surface extends evenly across most of the western half of the unit, but dips down heading towards the east. The portion of the surface at the lower elevation undulates and is not as nicely preserved as the western half. The surface abruptly stops about 10 cm from the eastern unit wall. Along the eastern unit wall there is a dark silty clay that resembles the sterile matrix encountered at the base of EU-3.

Dirt and a small white board inside of an excavation unit
EU-1, facing west
Archaeologist measuring the inside of an excavation unit
Archaeologist taking measurements for the soil profile
White board and marker on the dirt floor of an excavation unit
EU-5, note the lighter color in the western half of unit- this is the lime surface

This week we would like to spotlight three different artifacts that were processed in the lab this week.

Numerous Monterrey Polychrome ceramic sherds were recovered from EU-5 at approximately 50 cm below surface. Monterrey Polychrome is a Spanish Colonial tin-glazed ceramic frequently found within the Alamo footprint and throughout the San Antonio Missions. This ceramic type is typically decorated with an orange band along the rim, with swaths of green and yellow floral designs on the interior surface. Vessel forms of Monterrey Polychrome consist of cups and deep brimmed plates. It is believed that this ceramic type was manufactured in Puebla, Mexico and is dated to 1775 to 1830.

Ceramic fragments next to a ruler for scale

A proximal fragment of a Guerrero point was discovered within EU-5 at roughly 40 cm below surface. Guerrero points, or “Mission Points”, are a unique projectile point type commonly associated with Mission-era occupations across Texas. Like many of the stone tools recovered from Alamo excavations, the Guerrero point is manufactured from chert, a bountiful resource found across the Edwards Plateau region. There is also sufficient evidence suggesting the Guerrero point was being traded across the vast trade system amongst the Indigenous populations in the Texas Missions.

Portions of a hair comb, made from faunal bone, was discovered in EU-1 at approximately 70 cm below surface. Historically, combs such as these consist of two sides: a fine-tooth and wide-tooth side. The wide-toothed section was used for detangling hair, while the fine-toothed portion was used for delousing. Hair combs are uncommon objects found within the Alamo footprint. However similar combs have been identified at historic sites throughout the world. Some of the earliest fine-toothed combs appear during the Natufian period (12,500 -9500 BC) in the Levant in Western Asia.

Point fragment next to a ruler for scale
Portions of a hair comb next to a ruler for scale