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.
Previous work on this collection has focused almost entirely on the typable projectile points. Underwater Archaeology at Spring Lake (41HY147), the Terrace Locality at Spring Lake, edited by Jon C. Lohse and with contributions by Harry J. Shafer and Thomas R. Hester, was a published as a popular volume in 2012. This volume featured a valuable analysis of the geoarchaeological context and the cultural chronology of the site as represented by a selection of projectile points, and supported by other research in the Spring Lake Complex.
However, the bulk of the artifacts recovered by the Shiner underwater excavations have been left un-cataloged and un-analyzed. The current project focuses on the forty-seven flats of artifacts remaining, including debitage, formal and informal tools, and projectile points. Six flats of these materials were still in their field bags, and are being washed and organized by one group of students. The other forty-two flats are being bagged, tagged and cataloged by student workers and volunteers. The project is approximately fifty percent complete, with twenty flats being either completely cataloged or in process.
For an idea of the scope of the project, a single flat (Box 18) contained a total of 935 artifacts. Extrapolated across all 47 boxes, this is a total of approximately 44,000 individual artifacts. Some boxes will have fewer or more artifacts – in the case of the flats containing field bags, quite a few more — but this is a good rough estimate. (The estimate does not include the two banker’s boxes labeled “projectile points.” I haven’t opened those, yet.) All told, the students and volunteers for this project have laid hands on approximately 18,700 individual artifacts.
The images throughout this post illustrate a few of the interesting artifacts we’ve found during this process. One of the most interesting features of a collection like this, is the presence of not only archaeological artifacts recovered by the excavation, but of historical artifacts directly related to the dig itself, as a local historical event: a pill bottle (used to house an artifact) with an excavator’s name written on it; a dive board with notations written on the surface, the pencil still attached. As this project progresses, it is expected to continue to reveal fascinating facets of the past that will be in a condition to be useful to researchers for years to come.
Lohse, Jon C. (ed.).
2013 Underwater Archaeology at 41HY147, the Terrace Locality at Spring Lake. Archaeological Studies Report No. 28. Center for Archaeological Studies: San Marcos.
Patricia Christmas is the archivist, lab manager and volunteer coordinator for the Center for Archaeological Studies. She received her MA degree in Anthropology from Texas State University in 2011.
Photos by Megan Vallejo.