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Root-Be-Gone (41YN452): Data Recovery of Late Archaic Components in Young County, Texas Vol I
This cultural resource investigation was necessitated by the proposed bridge replacement and new right-of-way and easement along the Farm to Market road at Gages Creek crossing (CSJ: 3149-02-010) by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in southern Young County. From January 29, 2007 through March 16, 2007, an archeological crew from the Cultural Resources Department of TRC Environmental Corporation’s (TRC’s) Austin office conducted data recovery excavations in part of site 41YN452 (RootBe-Gone) before any disturbance from the planned bridge replacement activities occurred. This data recovery program was conducted under TxDOT Scientific Services Contract No. 575XX SA008 and Texas Antiquities Permit No. 4003.
Data recovery investigations were conducted along the western side of the existing two-lane paved road in two areas previously documented to have high concentrations of cultural activities centered on cultural features. These two areas were identified during TRC’s 2006 site eligibility assessment, which was also conducted on adjacent site 41YN450. Only the Root-Be-Gone site was accepted as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and, therefore, subject to intensive data recovery investigations. This report provides the accepted research design that guided the analyses, describes the methods employed, discusses the excavation process, and presents detailed findings and results of technical analyses from the 50.5 m3 (144 m2) data recovery excavations for three, horizontally-separated Late and Terminal Archaic components at Root-Be-Gone.
The data recovery investigations included the mechanical removal of roughly 30 to 60 cm of sediment from above a previously identified target zone, cultural materials in a buried A horizon that contained an apparent Terminal Archaic assemblage in two horizontally-separated areas. Each area was targeted by a single block excavation, labeled North and South Block, which are roughly 70 m apart and which parallel the existing right-of-way. Following the mechanical stripping to access the targeted Terminal Archaic component in the buried A horizon, hand-excavations were conducted in 1-by-1 m units in continuous blocks through the targeted buried A horizon. The target zone varied from 20 to 40 cm thick. This buried A horizon appeared to contain a single, isolated Terminal Archaic component.
Root-Be-Gone (41YN452) yielded what is considered three horizontally-separate cultural components (labeled 1, 2, and 3) in the buried A horizon. This buried A horizon varied in depth from 45 to 70 cmbs. A few scattered Late Prehistoric arrow points were discovered on the surface and above the Terminal Archaic component. The younger and scattered Late Prehistoric artifacts were determined to occur above or on top of the buried A horizon. No definable cultural features were identified with the scattered arrow points. These scattered, Late Prehistoric materials were deemed insignificant and not targeted during the data recovery investigations.
The excavations yielded assemblages of chipped stone tools (N = 154), lithic debitage (N = 1,486), mussel shell (N = 8,430), faunal bone (N = 71), charcoal (N = 111), burned rocks (N = 4,421), features (N = 18), and other cultural materials, including sediment samples.
During the analyses, wood charcoal radiocarbon results from across the excavated areas revealed that a minimum of two, and possibly three different Terminal and/or Late Archaic components were represented in the buried A horizon in the two blocks. The North Block was radiocarbon dated by nine accepted dates to ca. a 230 year period between 1100 and 1330 B.P. The cultural materials recovered were assigned to a single, well-defined and isolated Terminal Archaic Component 1. That component yielded three dart points and one tiny arrow point associated with 14 cultural features. The features were comprised mostly of quantities of freshwater mussel shell concentrations in dumps, most associated with small scattered burned rocks; a burned, rock-filled heating element, scattered mussel shells and lithic debitage, and a few scattered formal chipped stone tools. The absolute age documented for this Terminal Archaic component that yielded dart points overlaps in time with the Scallorn arrow point using populations of the Austin phase of the Late Prehistoric period.
The South Block yielded minimally two sets of radiocarbon dates. The northern two-thirds of the South Block yielded seven accepted absolute wood charcoal dates that range over a nearly 630 year period between 690 and 1320 B.P. The targeted buried A horizon yielded what appeared as a single Terminal Archaic dart point and a limited stone tool assemblage. This assemblage is assigned to the Late Archaic Component 2. TxDOT archeologists considered this part of the South Block to be potentially mixed based on the wood charcoal radiocarbon dates obtained. Therefore, TxDOT archeologists decided that detailed analyses were restricted to the two cultural features (Features 11 and 13) and the formal stone tool assemblage recovered from that area. Because of the possible mixed cultural materials, this data was not used to address the presented research questions. The southern one-third of the South Block was radiocarbon dated by four accepted wood charcoal dates to a narrow 120 year period with an average age of 1855 B.P. This area was dominated by a single 3.0 to 3.5 m diameter mussel shell feature (Feature 4) that lacked associated formal chipped stone tools and diagnostic dart points. Here, this material is assigned to the Late Archaic Component 3. Because of the documented age difference from the Terminal Archaic Component 1 in the North Block, this material was not used to address the research questions that focused on the Terminal Archaic period.
Six research questions were targeted and address issues that include: whether the excavations yielded an isolatable Terminal Archaic component, what cultural materials were associated with the Terminal Archaic component, how this assemblage compares to other Terminal Archaic assemblages in the region, what was the subsistence base and broader economic pattern for this period, and was the bow and arrow adopted simultaneously by all groups.
Following the acceptance of the final report, these materials were permanently curated at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) in Austin. The Texas Historical Commission granted permission to curate only a small sample of the freshwater mussel shells collected during these investigations. The curated shells originate mostly from identified cultural features in all three components.
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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