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A Stratified Late Archaic Campsite in a Terrace of the San Idelfonzo Creek, Webb County, Southern Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Archeologists from TRC Mariah Associates Inc. of Austin conducted mitigation excavations at the Lino site (41WB437) during a six-week period in April and May 1998 under contract with the Texas Department of Transportation, Environmental Affairs Division. The prehistoric archeological site was within the right-of-way of the planned expansion of Highway 83, south of Laredo. A single 196 m2 block measuring 7 m north-south by 28 m east-west was investigated following requirements of a contract that stipulated a three-pronged approach to data recovery. First, a Gradall™ was employed to carefully strip 2 to 4 cm thick layers in eight 3 m wide areas within the block. Balks measuring 80 cm wide by 120 cm tall were left standing between each 3 m wide Gradall™ -stripped area. The material discovered in situ during the Gradall™ stripping was plotted using a total data station. When clusters of cultural materials were encountered during the Gradall™ stripping, these were designated as features, and a series of manual excavations in 1 by 1 m units were dug around each feature. The matrix surrounding these features was screened and in situ data recorded with the total data station. Feature matrix was collected and floated in the laboratory. A total of 124 m2 were hand excavated around 24 recognized features discovered during Gradall™ stripping. Upon reaching the target depth of 120 cm below the surface, the Gradall™ stripping ceased, having mechanically removed 187 m3 of deposits.
The second field approach was the hand excavation and screening of matrix from the 80 cm wide by 7 m long standing balks. The total data station was used to plot most in situ material greater than 5 cm in diameter from the 48 m3 hand-excavated balks. In conjunction with the hand excavations of the linear balks, the third field approach involved the collection of 348 four-liter flotation samples from 29 vertical columns systematically spaced every 2 m across the excavation balks. These float samples were collected from the northwest corner of every other hand excavation unit. Flotation results from eight analyzed columns of samples were the basis for assessing the recovery rate from hand excavated units immediately adjacent to the selected columns.
The 235 m3 block investigation yielded quantities of cultural materials relatively well stratified throughout the 120+ cm deposits. At least five and possibly six cultural occupation zones were more or less horizontally distributed across the excavation block. Based on three wood charcoal dates from the testing phase and nine radiometric dates from the mitigation phase, all occupations occurred during a 1,400-year period between ca. 2000 and 3400 B.P. The occupations yielded quantities of scattered burned sandstone, 22 burned rock dumps, three burned rock-filled pits, one charcoal stained hearth, two mussel shell concentrations, and one mano cluster. Also recovered were quantities of lithic debitage, a few mussel shells, and sparse formal stone tools including fewer than a dozen ground stone implements. Virtually no bone or burned subsistence remains, and relatively few Rabdotus shells were recovered. Chipped stone tools included 24 whole and fragmented projectile points, 46 bifaces, 18 scrapers, two drills, three hammerstones, and at least 202 edgemodified flakes. The ground stone tools included five manos and eight abraders. One mussel shell pendant with a single drilled hole and notched edges was also recovered. The occupation zones yielded sparse diagnostics in the form of 11 Tortugas projectile points, one Matamoros point, and five Refugio points. Occupations 2 and 6 did not yield diagnostic projectiles, and the latter may not represent a discrete occupation. Occupation 5 was related to the Refugio points and dated to about 3200 B.P. Occupations 1, 3, and 4 were related to the Tortugas and Matamoros points and dated to between 2000 and 3000 B.P.
Thirty-six features (8 through 43) were recognized during the mitigation investigations. These included 22 burned rock clusters, three rock filled basins, three occupation lenses, two fresh water mussel shell clusters, one flake concentration, one mano cluster, one charcoal stained basin hearth, and at least one burned root.
The burned rock clusters dominate the features (67 percent) and contained from four to 80 burned sandstone rocks. These loosely clustered but unpatterned rocks were associated with sparse wood charcoal chunks and mostly sparse chert debitage. All four basin features yielded quantities of charcoal, and three of these were deeper basins filled with burned rocks. Formal stone tools were rarely found immediately adjacent to the burned rock pit features. The mitigation results contribute significant information about the nature and diversity of Late Archaic adaptations in extreme south Texas.
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