Archaeology Update —Security Bollards Installed Along Alamo Street

Kristi Nichols, Director of Archaeology, Collections and Historical Research
February 12, 2020
security bollards
Installation of the safety bollards on the west side of the Plaza

During the week of February 3, some archaeological monitoring was conducted in the area of the bollard installation in Alamo Plaza, along Alamo Street. No artifacts or features were encountered, and the bollards were installed by the end of the week.

Work associated with the preservation of the Church and Long Barrack focused on three units on the exterior of the Church and one on the exterior of the Long Barrack. The two of the interior units were backfilled with the reserved soils. In addition, two units on the exterior of the Long Barrack arcade were backfilled as well.

On the north side of the Church, Excavation Unit 8 continued to uncover stone alignments that run perpendicular to the north wall of the Church. Previously installed utilities had impacted the stone alignments.

excavation unit 8
Utility lines removed from Excavation Unit 8

Due to the presence of the utilities and the utility vault in this vicinity, much of the soil has been disturbed, and the artifacts that have been recovered are indicating the mixed context. The ceramic sewer line was removed during the week to allow the archaeologists to continue with excavations. In addition, the concrete utility vault was removed in pieces.

Excavation Units 1 and 3 were also worked on during the week of February 3. The archaeologists have uncovered another alignment of stone in Excavation Unit 3, located on the exterior of the south transept wall of the Church. The alignment is located in the southern portion of the unit, approximately 27.5 inches away from the foundation of the Church, running parallel to the foundation.

The most fascinating thing about this stone alignment is that is was uncovered beneath a layer of soil that contained very early Spanish Colonial artifacts, including fragments of Puebla Polychrome that date to the earliest occupation of the site during the Mission Period. A compacted caliche surface that capped the colonial deposits was found above that. This indicated that the stone alignment could be related to the earliest use of the site as the mission.

utility vault
Removal of the utility vault. Note the alignment of stones in the center of the unit

Excavation Unit 1, located on the southwest side of the Church, continued to encounter dark clay soils that contain very few artifacts. The archaeologists are encountering snail shell, chipped stone, Goliad ware potter, and some lead glazed ceramic fragments, all in very low quantities. The excavations in Units 1 and 3 are approximately 47.2 inches below surface (approximately 4 ft.) and have not encountered the base of the foundation.

Excavations on the south side of the exterior of the Long Barrack have revealed the amount of disturbance that the installation of a storm drain line has created. A large PVC pipe running diagonally from the east end of the unit to the west end appears to align with a storm drain located just to the west of the unit. Utility maps did not show this line and so this was an unexpected discovery.

excavation unit 9B
PVC pipe running through Excavation Unit 9b, located on the south side of the Long Barrack. Note that the pipe is cutting through a possible foundation

An alignment of stone running north-south appears to be in line with the west wall of Long Barrack. As excavations continue further, more information will be gathered about the potential function of the stone alignment.

Work associated with the preservation investigations will continue the following week. Bollard installation will continue, but there will not be archaeological monitoring associated as the areas being worked on have already been cleared.