Surveying the Landscape: Surface Surveys as an Archaeological Technique

By Caitlin Gulihur

Caitlin surveying her survey area

Caitlin surveying her survey area

While what happens during and after excavations of archaeological sites are popular subjects of previous PAST posts, this post deals with a different type of archaeological work – the survey. Surveys are useful for both finding unrecorded sites and to answer research questions about large-scale issues, such as landscape use. Survey work presents its own unique rewards and challenges, some of which I became familiar with during the course of gathering data for my Master’s thesis. Continue reading

A behind the scenes look at the Spring Lake Data Recovery Analysis

By Amy Reid

Lab tables cluttered with artifacts, scales, digital calipers, coffee cups, Excel spreadsheets and to-do lists that seem to get longer-not shorter. The analysis phase of an archaeological project can look more like chaos than science, but in reality there is a method — or methodology rather — to the madness. This post aims to describe the various analyses we have conducted and are planning to perform on the data recovered from our 2014 excavations at the Spring Lake Site. You will also get a sneak peak at some of the results available to date.

Figures 1-3: What analysis looks like

Figures 1-3: What analysis looks like

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Progress Report on the Shiner Collection Rehabilitation

pedernales dart points

Pedernales dart points

By Patricia Christmas

The big project this semester at CAS has been the rehabilitation of the Shiner Collection. The funding for this project is provided by a generous Preservation Trust Fund grant from the Texas Historical Commission and work is being performed by a team of CAS staff, student workers, and volunteers. Amy Reid’s Archaeological Curation class has been assigned to the Shiner Collection Rehabilitation as their semester laboratory project and their assistance has been vital. Continue reading

Joel Shiner: Bringing Spring Lake Archaeology into the Light

By Jacob Hooge

Shiner on break

Shiner on break

As Center for Archaeological Studies (CAS) works through the curation of artifacts from the Shiner collection, dozens of volunteers and student workers are experiencing first-hand the horrors of poorly kept notes and documentation of an unfinished yet exceptionally important archaeological excavation. The few publications Joel Shiner produced concerning the San Marcos Springs were not well-received within much of the archaeological community; however, his work in San Marcos placed a spotlight on the archaeological resources present. Shiner’s efforts resulted in the often cited San Marcos claim to be the longest continuously inhabited site in North America and were the catalyst for the important work which continues today. Continue reading

Artifact Spotlight: Mary Garden Powder Compact Lid

By Patricia Christmas

mary garden compact lid, obverse and reverse

Mary Garden Compact lid, obverse and reverse

The lid to a Mary Garden Powder Compact was recovered by CAS archaeologists in 2012, during construction monitoring near the River House on the Texas State University campus. The embossed design, now barely visible, features a profile bust of the Scottish-American opera soprano Mary Garden and the words “Mary Garden, Rigaud Paris, Parfumeur.” It was produced by the Scoville Manufacturing Company in 1916, and remained in use until 1926 (Hetherington 2012b). The compact was brass with a removable mirrored lid. The mirror on this artifact is broken and most of the silver has degraded, although some of the tin dichloride coating remains. Based upon the manufacturing dates, the compact lid was likely lost or discarded during a period when the site was a tourist park, a place where travelers visiting one of the two amusement parks in San Marcos – Aquarena Springs Amusement Park and Wonder World Park – would have been able to picnic during their stay. Continue reading

Texas State Field School in St. Kitts — A Wrap-Up Post

by Todd Ahlman

Ceramic Artifacts from St. Kitts

Ceramic Artifacts from St. Kitts

If you have been following CAS’s PAST Posts, CAS’s social media, and the Texas State in St. Kitts Archaeological Project, you probably saw the series of blog entries in June written by the archaeological field school students participating in the project on St. Kitts.

We completed the field work at the end of June and washed, analyzed, and packed for curation the bulk of the artifacts we recovered before we left St. Kitts. The project was a great success. The students learned necessary archaeological skills, and we were able to recover a tremendous amount of information about the history of St. Kitts. This final blog entry on the project is meant to wrap up the project and give some glimpses into the things we found during our stay on the island. Continue reading

A Final View: Field School Experience #5

By Taylor Bowden

Kathleen and Taylor excavating.

Kathleen and Taylor excavating.

When I initially chose anthropology as my major, archaeology wasn’t anywhere on my radar. Forensic anthropology was what I wanted to do, and what I still want to do; however I have a whole new appreciation for archaeologists and all that they do. I heard about this field school when Dr. Ahlman came to speak to my Intro to Archaeology class and his passion for his work piqued my interest. I had been looking for a way to study abroad and still gain the experience that many people in our field rarely just happen upon and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for me. I signed up immediately and found myself in June on a plane to St. Kitts. Stepping out of the plane with the 4 strangers who were my classmates, I had no idea what would be in store for us.  Continue reading

A Brief Window into Slave Economy: Field School Experience #4

By Ashley Riddle

Ashley, Kathleen, and Rachel laying in an excavation unit.

Ashley, Kathleen, and Rachel laying in an excavation unit.

The reasons that initially drew me in to this field school are the same reasons that I chose to pursue an anthropology degree. As an American, growing up in this generation, sometimes I feel that I’ve lost touch with my own heritage and cultural traditions. Anthropology and particularly archaeology gives people the opportunity to learn about cultural traditions, ritual practices, and beliefs by analyzing the things that are left behind. It’s an incredibly important field of work that is much more physically demanding than I expected, but in the end is much more rewarding than anything I could ever imagine. Continue reading

Adventures with Sea Urchins: St. Kitts Field School Experience #3

Haley and Ashley with their first excavation unit.

Haley and Ashley with their first excavation unit.

By Haley Lyckman

Well, here we all are in the last part of the 3rd week and I can tell you my experiences here in St. Kitts are not what I expected them to be at all. I’ve learned a few new archeological and life lessons: always put on sun screen, bring two bottles of water, and by all means don’t step on a sea urchin! Continue reading

St. Kitts Field School Experience #2

By Rachel Jenson

Rachel, in the black shirt, on her first day in the field learning to layout test units.

Rachel, in the black shirt, on her first day in the field learning to layout test units.

I have always been entranced by the possibilities archaeology presented as a career. The idea that I would be able to travel for a living while experiencing cultures, both alive today and from the past, seemed like the perfect job. Working in St. Kitts has only enhanced that. Continue reading