Texas Historical Commission


In May 1989 through July 1989, archeological and geomorphological investigations were conducted at five prehistoric archeological sites impacted by drainage ditch construction in Hidalgo and Willacy counties. These investigations were sponsored by Hidalgo County Drainage District No. I and Willacy County Drainage District No. I as part of a continuing program of cultural resources studies along the drainage ditch construction right-of-way. One site, 41WYI40, is situated on a low rise adjacent to a main channel of the ditch and lacks sufficient Holocene sediments to contain archeological materials in good context. However, a tortoise, cf. Gopherus hexagollarus, was recovered, and the inorganic fraction was assayed by radiocarbon to 9360 ± 415 B.P. If correct, this date indicates that these now-extinct tortoises could have been coeval with Paleoindian occupations in South Texas. The other four sites are in or on the edges of small deflationary basins. Based on the radiocarbon chronology obtained from these sites, soils formed on many of the deflationary basins during the late Pleistocene. Between ca. 12,000 B.P. and 5000 B.P., these soils were removed by wind erosion, and in the last 5,000 years, a modem soil formed. At all sites, this modem soil has been disturbed by historic farming, land clearing, and ditch construction. The prehistoric archeological remains at 41HGI28, 41WY1l2, 41WY1l3, and 41WYl34 are sparse, reflecting a continuing record of nonintensive use by mobile hunter-gatherers. In order to assess the National Register eligibility of individual sites, three models of hunter-gatherer resource and territorial exploitation patterns were developed and a preliminary test of these models was conducted with the regional archeological data base. The first model assumes unrestricted access to all major resource areas in the region; the second model assumes that prehistoric territories focused on resources along the Rio Grande floodplain; and Ole third model assumes that hunter-gatherer territories were organized in response to coastal resources. The results of the test were inconclusive, but important exploitation patterns were recognized and invalid assumptions of the models identified. In light of the recovered materials from the sites. the analysis of the regional data base, and the assessment of the models, none of the five sites reported here are judged eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and no further work at these sites is recommended.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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