Texas Historical Commission
Between October 2012 and July 2013, Atkins conducted National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility testing at historic sites 41BP585 and 41BP594 and prehistoric site 41BP595, located within the Three Oaks Mine in Bastrop County, Texas, which is owned and operated by Luminant. Impacts to all three sites are anticipated as a result of planned mine development. This work was conducted under the direction of Principal Investigator David L. Sherman. This report of investigations was written at Atkins and is being finalized by Blanton & Associates, with David L. Sherman remaining as the Principal Investigator.
This work demonstrated that significant archeological deposits that may contribute to the overall NRHP eligibility statuses of the two historic sites are absent at both sites. Standing architecture at 41BP594, however, has previously been determined to be eligible for listing on the NRHP (Martin 2001). Archival research conducted as part of the current investigation into the histories of the historic sites remains inconclusive with respect to the identity of their 1870s and earlier occupants.
Testing at prehistoric site 41BP595 indicated it resulted from multiple occupational episodes during the period from the late Paleoindian to the Late Prehistoric. Shovel testing and mechanical trenching revealed the presence of an expansive buried anthrogenic A soil horizon, or midden, replete with preserved subsistence remains. Mechanical trenching also exposed a variety of burned rock cooking facilities partially surrounding the midden area. Radiocarbon assays of burned nut shells recovered from feature contexts, along with the assemblage of diagnostic lithic artifacts, suggest the site was most intensively occupied from the Late Archaic to the early Late Prehistoric. A suite of special studies was conducted on burned rock samples recovered from four of the better-preserved burned rock features. These studies, which include residue, starch, and phytolith analysis, suggest that the burned rock features were used in part to process tubers/roots and grass seeds for subsistence. Macrobotanical analysis of flotation samples recovered from feature contexts identified spent fuel remains including oak and hickory wood and subsistence remains including oak, hickory, black walnut, and acorn burned nut shells. A small amount of burned bulb, possibly representing wild onion, was also recovered through flotation. These findings suggest that significant archeological deposits important to understanding the Late Archaic to early Late Prehistoric period have been preserved at 41BP595.
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