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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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

Geoarchaeology: Why I’m All About that Dirt

By Jacob Hooge

Spring Lake excavation pit

Spring Lake Data Recovery excavation pit, 2014.

So, what is a geoarchaeologist, exactly? Most simply, a geoarchaeologist is someone who very much takes the importance of archaeological context to heart. Over the course of my archaeological career, I have come to view the study of and reverence for artifacts themselves as just a bit obsessive and sometimes unproductive—something akin to Gollum admiring his Precious alone in some deep, dark cave. While some archaeologists are probably now gasping, “Blasphemer! Artifacts are why we’re here!”, they will remember that they, too, preach the importance of context. With an ever-expanding world of contextual information available to the archaeologist, the fine details of the artifact itself begin to pale in comparison to what surrounds the artifact for potential to inform. And I just happen to be all about that dirt. Continue reading

Spring Lake, Part 3: The Wrap-up

On 11 October, CAS Collections Manager Amy Reid gave a preliminary report of the current Spring Lake excavation at the Witte Museum in San Antonio. For our final Spring Lake post, we’ve created a video from her presentation. Many thanks to Adam Clark from the Department of Anthropology at Texas State University for his capable and patient assistance.

Spring Lake, Part 1: An Introduction to Spring Lake Prehistory

Spring Lake is an artificial lake located in south-central Hays County at the base of the Balcones Escarpment, which marks the boundary between the Edwards Plateau (Hill Country) and the Blackland Prairie. The lake is fed by a large artesian outflow of anywhere from 200 to 3000 springs that emanate from the Edwards Aquifer to form the headwaters of the San Marcos River. Spring Lake was created in 1849 when General Edward Burleson, commander of the First Regiment during the Battle of San Jacinto and an early founder of the City of San Marcos, built a dam across the river about one-half mile downstream from the springs to accommodate a mill. Continue reading

Public Participation: An Approach to Public Stewardship (by Amy Reid)

volunteers working at the screens

Volunteers working at the screens

People from all walks of life are attracted to archaeology by the allure of adventure and excitement of finding something really old or really significant. Whether a professional or avocational archaeologist, student, educator, or child, the past belongs to all of us. I believe that as professionals we have a responsibility to take what we find, what we learn, and share it with the public. More importantly, the public should also have a part in the process of archaeology; they should be our partners, not just a passive audience for our outreach efforts after we have done all the work. The benefit of this type of inclusiveness is reciprocal: the public becomes closer to archaeology (not to mention they are able to participate in the projects that their tax money pays for) and archaeology gains from their perspective and support. I strongly believe that this relationship is the foundation for preservation and anti-looting efforts.
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