Texas Historical Commission
At the request of the San Jacinto Museum of History Association, Gray & Pape, Inc., of Houston, Texas, conducted an archaeological survey of approximately 8.2 hectares (20.3 acres) in support of a potential future construction location for a museum and visitors center. The project area consisted of two polygon boundaries, Area A and Area B, located southwest of the San Jacinto Monument. Area A was further subdivided into three sections for ease of analysis.
The Lead Agency for this project has been identified as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The project is located on state-owned lands; thus, requiring permitting for archaeological fieldwork. All fieldwork and reporting activities were conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit Number 7725, issued by the Texas Historical Commission on July 21, 2016.
Site file research conducted prior to survey identified two previous surveys overlap the current project. Field investigations were conducted between October and December 2016. All work was conducted in accordance with a scope of work prepared in consultation with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Artifacts determined to require curation will be turned over to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department along with all field records, notes, and GIS data.
Field activities in October and December 2016 consisted of photo-documentation, pedestrian reconnaissance, metal detection survey, and trench excavation. A total of 380 targets were identified during the current metal detector survey. Of these, 366 targets were identified as being modern materials such as beverage cans, aluminum foil, barbed wire, and other recent hardware items. An additional 30 targets were identified during previous surveys, which increases the total identified targets within the project to 410. Modern items were recovered throughout the project area but was most concentrated in the areas immediately adjacent to the existing service road and maintenance facilities.
Fourteen items were identified during the metal detector survey that are considered of historic or unknown age, including four bullets, most likely dating from the late nineteenth century. Other items included iron chain link, a square nail, and a shellcrete block that likely had served as a property marker. No items that could be confirmed as related to the Battle of San Jacinto were identified during the current effort. However, seven artifacts determined to be most likely associated with the cavalry skirmish dating to April 20, 1836, were identified within Project Area B and its western boundary as a result of work performed in 2011 and 2013. These artifacts consisted of five buckshot, one musketball, and one horseshoe.
Trench excavations showed little to no evidence of major earth moving disturbances within the project area, although it did show evidence of agrilliturbation in the form of gilgai and research has revealed that natural and artificial impacts have taken place on the property. The small number of historic-age finds would also suggest that the project area remained relatively low impact use in the period between the battle and the construction of maintenance facilities in the area in the twenty-first century. Further, except for the shellcrete block these finds were located very near the surface, suggesting they have not had time to subside very deeply. The concentration of modern materials around near the adjacent maintenance facilities supports the idea that intensive activity near the project area is a fairly recent phenomenon.
Based on the results of previous surveys there is evidence of activity associated with the Battle of San Jacinto located in the project, specifically a swath that crosses the northern portion of Area B. However, the activity appears to be concentrated further to the east and outside of the current project. The resurvey of locations of previous battle-related finds during the current effort produced no additional battle-related materials.
It is necessary to state that it would be impossible to conclude that no additional materials would be identified within the project, as there are several factors that could influence the success of a metal detecting survey. These factors include the interference from nearby power lines, soils saturation, technological limitations of the machines used, machine operator error, and movement of targets due to subsidence and agrilliturbation. These factors were addressed as best as possible for the current effort. For these reasons, Gray & Pape, Inc. recommend that the Project be allowed to proceed if ground disturbances are archaeologically monitored in the chance that additional materials may be identified.
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