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DOI

https://doi.org/10.21112/ita.2008.1.1

Abstract

From May 2004 through the summer of 2008 and on behalf of the Environmental Affairs Division (ENV) of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) undertook extensive archaeological investigations and analyses on the Gatlin site, 41KR621, located on the Guadalupe River, Kerr County, Texas. Work at the site was necessitated by the planned 1.15-mile extension of Spur 98 from its current limits to cross the Guadalupe River and terminate at FM 1338. As the project included both state and federal funding, TxDOT was required to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the implementing regulations of 36CFR Part 800, and the Texas Antiquities Code. In the case of 41KR621, since the archaeological site was determined eligible for listing under Criterion D and since impacts could not be avoided, a plan to mitigate the project effects was developed. The subsequent work in the form of data recovery is the primary basis of this report.

SWCA initially conducted the survey and site testing investigations along the Spur 98 corridor in May 2004. TxDOT then contracted SWCA to conduct the data recovery excavations under THC Antiquities Permit 3532. Data recovery excavations at 41KR621 spanned September through November 2004 and included the re-excavation of several backhoe trenches from the testing phase, excavation of new control trenches, removal of overburden in two areas of the site, and hand excavating roughly 145 m3 of the site in broad horizontal exposures. Combined, the testing and data recovery work resulting in the recovery of 37 burned rock features (including a buried burned rock midden), close to 50,000 pieces of debitage, 409 projectile points, 1,085 bifaces, 343 cores, over 400 flaked and non-chipped tools, and a modest amount of ecofacts.

The investigations documented four cultural occupations. The earliest of the Gatlin site’s components, Occupation Zone (OZ) 1, contained Gower points and dates from approximately 6,800 B.P. to possibly as late as 6,000 B.P., falling within the Early Archaic. OZ2, a younger and more extensive Early Archaic occupation with mainly Gower and Martindale points, covers the period of ca. 6,100–4,500 B.P. The third zone, OZ3, a more compressed transitional phase between the Early to Middle Archaic dominated by Early Triangular diagnostic artifacts, is a component that produced dates of ca. 4,500–3,850 B.P. The youngest occupation, OZ4, which contained a burned rock midden but proved to be an admixture of broad temporal and cultural components, spans the Middle through Late Archaic periods, as evidenced by numerous diagnostic point types.

Utilizing one of the largest excavated samples of Early and Middle Archaic cultural deposits in the southern Edwards Plateau, the results of the study provide a unique look at human adaptation and basic lifeways at the site and surrounding region. Evidence indicates the Gatlin site was primarily utilized by small groups of foraging hunter-gatherers for short periods of time to acquire and process game, replenish their stocks of raw materials, and gear-up for future forays. The abundant game, plant foods, fuel, chert resources, and overall comfort of the riparian setting likely served as major draws for continuous occupation over thousands of years. Utilizing the projectile point sequence and suite of radiocarbon dates from 41KR621, the Early–Middle Archaic chronology of south Central Texas is revised and refined. Comparisons to other excavated sites in the region reveal new and important patterns regarding human adaptation during the Early and Middle Archaic on the southern Edwards Plateau.

All artifacts and project related materials will be curated at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory.

Licensing Statement

This is a work for hire produced for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which owns all rights, title, and interest in and to all data and other information developed for this project under its contract with the report producer. The report may be cited and brief passages from this publication may be reproduced without permission provided that credit is given to TxDOT and the firm that produced it. Permission to reprint an entire chapter, section, figures or tables must be obtained in advance from the Supervisor of the Archeological Studies Branch, Environmental Affairs Division, Texas Department of Transportation, 125 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas, 78701

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