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SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) conducted significance testing excavations at site 41SS164, San Saba County, Texas on behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The tested portion of the site is in TxDOT’s right-of-way (ROW) of County Road (CR) 228 on the eastern bank of Richland Springs Creek, a tributary of the San Saba River. SWCA performed the investigations under General Services Contract #575XXSA007, Work Authorization #575 21 SA007, and Texas Antiquities Permit 4156. The final report was written under General Services Contract #577XXSA002, Work Authorization #577 05 SA002.
In the course of the investigations, SWCA conducted backhoe trenching, hand excavations, special sampling, and other documentation at the project area. As the ROW on the eastern side of the CR 228 bridge is extremely narrow, all trench and hand excavations were conducted in the roadway after the removal of the gravel roadbed and several layers of fill. In all, approximately 3 m3 were excavated by hand at the site, beginning at the transition point between the fill layers and layers containing cultural material, or just above it. In addition to the hand excavations, the testing project included two backhoe trenches excavated perpendicular to each other. As an additional element of the investigations, SWCA excavated one 50-x-50-cm column sample to assess the site’s potential artifact recovery and potential cultural layers.
The testing determined that the site contains one intact cultural component, designated Analytical Unit 1 (AU 1), in an alluvial setting. A second deposit containing cultural material above AU 1 was determined to be part of an ambiguous interface fill deposit and not an in situ component. AU 1 contains two burned sandstone rock features, debitage, bone, a dart point, lithic tools, and two charcoal samples. The radiocarbon samples yielded widely disparate dates; one is interpreted as an intrusive sample, and the other found in Feature 2 dated to the Late Archaic. A Pandale dart point dating to the Early/Middle Archaic (8,800–4,000 B.P.) was also found in Feature 2 within AU 1. The deposits appeared to be highly compressed. Geomorphological investigations of the east-west backhoe trench revealed a steady downward slope of cultural material in both AU 1 and the ambiguous interface fill deposit as one approached Richland Springs Creek. Thus, although cultural material was encountered at various depths within the site area, it was identified as one cultural component. Artifact recovery was sparse, with modest amounts of organic material preserved.
Although the site contains one analytical unit with prehistoric cultural material in an observable natural stratum, the sloping stratigraphy and complex soil deposition makes it difficult to subdivide the component into more than one occupation period subject to specific research questions. Geomorphic analysis suggests a level of compression in the component. Additionally, the quantity and diversity of cultural material recovered from the site indicates the potential data yield to answer specific research questions is marginal. SWCA recommends that the portion of 41SS164 within the road ROW is not eligible for National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) listing under Criterion D, 36 CFR 60.4, and is not eligible for State Archeological Landmark (SAL) designation under Criteria 1 and 2 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure for the Antiquities Code of Texas, 13 TAC 26.8. Data recovery investigations are not recommended for the portion of the site within the ROW. Portions of the site outside of the ROW have not been fully evaluated.
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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