Center for Archaeological Research




In June and September 1997, the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, conducted test excavations outside the walls and inside selected rooms of the restored Indian Quarters of Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo (41BX3) for the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park of the National Park Service (NPS). The site is located ca. seven miles south of downtown San Antonio on a high terrace overlooking the west bank of the San Antonio River.

The purpose of the excavations was to expose the foundations of these rooms in advance of a project to reinforce the southeast section of the Indian Quarters and to expose the wall bases in selected areas throughout the compound where mortar is deteriorating. The walls with deteriorating mortar are to be repointed as part of an NPS restoration project. The walls in question had all been reconstructed by the Civil Works Administration (CWA) in the 1930s under the direction of architect Harvey P. Smith, Sr. The excavations showed that the sandstone CWA foundations were set on the original limestone Colonial foundations. It was possible to differentiate between the two by the constituent rocks and mortar used in their construction.

The results of the excavations also indicate that: 1) wall base mortar-loss is present only at the ground surface; 2) vertical wall cracks may be due to lack of underlying foundation (i.e., west cross wall of Southeast gate) or structural weaknesses in the Colonial foundation; 3) on the inside of the mission compound and outside of its walls, the upper 12 inches of deposit consists of severely mixed materials dating from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries; 4) deposits lying below 18 inches in depth contain less disturbed Colonial period materials; 5) within the Indian Quarter rooms, deposits found within three feet of the walls are severely disturbed to a depth of 18 inches; 6) less disturbed materials are encountered below a depth of 24 inches.

Three recommendations are made concerning the proposed underpinning and repointing projects. First, outside of the Indian Quarters, deposits found below 12 inches in depth should be excavated by trained archaeologists. Second, within Room LXXIV of the Indian Quarters, deposits found below 18 inches in depth, in units found along the walls, should be excavated by professional archaeologists. Due to their disturbed character and limited interpretive potential, deposits lying above these depths within both contexts can be excavated by untrained personnel. Third, because the portion of the walls requiring repointing is above or at present ground surface and the upper 12 inches of deposits are disturbed, a trained archaeologist should only spot monitor any excavations (which do not exceed 12 inches in depth) associated with the repointing.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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