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Agency

Texas Historical Commission

Abstract

At the request of Matiraan, Ltd., Pape‐Dawson conducted an intensive archaeological survey with shovel testing and backhoe trenching of the proposed 37‐acre (15‐hectare [ha]) Casa Bella Estates residential development in compliance with the Historic Preservation and Design Section (Article 6 35‐360 to 35‐ 634) of the City of San Antonio (COSA) Unified Development Code (UDC). Based on the results of those investigations, the COSA Office of Historic Preservation (SA‐OHP) requested further work to mitigate the effects of the proposed development on a potentially significant archaeological site (41BX2131). Subsequently, data recovery investigations were accomplished at site 41BX2131. This report documents all phases of fieldwork.

The Casa Bella Estates residential development is within the COSA city limits at the confluence of Mud and Elm Waterhole Creeks in northern Bexar County, about 1.40 miles (2.25 kilometers [km]) southwest of the intersection of Bulverde Road and Loop 1604. The irregularly shaped project area straddles an existing driveway that provides access to Jones Maltsberger Road. The development would be maximally about 1,739 feet (ft) (530 meters [m]) north to south, and 2,264 ft (690 m) east to west. The vertical impacts for the proposed development have not yet been determined.

Compliance with the Antiquities Code of Texas or Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act is not required because the project is on private property and does not involve federal funding or permitting. However, based on the Archaeological Report Guidelines of the SA‐OHP, any observed cultural resources were to be evaluated according to the criteria in Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations Part 60.4 (36 CFR 60.4) and in Title 13 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 26.10 (13 TAC 26.10). The purpose of the investigations was to identify all historic or prehistoric cultural resources located within the project area and to evaluate the significance and eligibility of identified resources for inclusion to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) or for designation as a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL). All work was done in accordance with the archaeological survey standards and guidelines as developed by the Council of Texas Archaeologists (CTA) and adopted by the Texas Historical Commission (THC).

The investigations included a cultural resources background literature and records review and an intensive survey with mechanical trenching, followed by data recovery mitigation. Fieldwork for the initial survey took place between October 9, and November 12, 2015. The entirety of the project area was subject to visual inspection supplemented by systematically placed shovel tests in order to evaluate the impact of the proposed project on cultural resources. A second phase of survey with backhoe trenching followed on November 11 and 12, 2015. Archaeologists excavated a total of 28 shovel tests and 6 backhoe trenches, exceeding the minimum CTA/THC archaeological survey standards, which require a ratio of 1 shovel test per 2 acres for a 37‐acre (15‐ha) project area. Pape‐Dawson archaeologists encountered cultural material in 23 shovel tests and 5 trenches throughout the project area as part of their survey efforts. Site 41BX2131 was evaluated according to the criteria in 36 CFR 60.4 and 13 TAC 26.10, and determined to be potentially eligible for inclusion to the NRHP and for designation as an SAL. Based on the results of the survey and subsequent coordination with COSA.

Archaeologist Kay Hindes, Pape‐Dawson conducted data recovery mitigation for 41BX2131 because it could not be avoided by development.

Data recovery took place on January 6 to 8, 2016, and involved the excavation of three additional backhoe trenches and two 1‐by‐1‐meter, hand‐excavated units. One diagnostic projectile point, a Frio, was encountered in an excavation unit, and radiocarbon dated to 903±37 B.P. (D‐AMS 016005) (2‐sigma calibrated age estimate of A.D. 1035 to 1211, with a median probability of A.D. 1119). The generally accepted time range for Frio points is within the Transitional Archaic period at 200 B.C. to A.D. 600 or later (Turner and Hester 1999:122); in this case, more than 500 years later.

One other radiocarbon date from the same unit, but 12 inches (30 centimeters [cm]) below the projectile point, was 1090±32 B.P. (D‐AMS 016006) (2‐sigma calibrated age estimate of A.D. 892 to 1015, with a median probability of A.D. 953), demonstrating that the preserved occupation at site 41BX2131 is limited to a 166‐ to 319‐year interval during the transition between the Transitional Archaic and Late Prehistoric periods. No pottery or arrow points typical of the Late Prehistoric period were encountered at site 41BX2131; however, the radiocarbon results situate the site within the early portion of the Late Prehistoric period.

The many tested cobbles and large flakes present on the surface indicate that initial reduction took place here. Several preforms and bifaces noted on the surface, and the small size of many tertiary flakes from the data recovery also suggest more detailed work occurred. The actual borders of the site were not discovered, as they extend beyond the project area. The site has likely been destroyed by the surrounding urban development and associated infrastructure construction. Disturbances within the project area include vehicle trails, a sewage line, artifacts taken from the surface by prior owners, and erosion near the drainages.

Project records and photographs will be curated at the Center for Archaeological Studies (CAS) at Texas State University in San Marcos, while artifacts will be returned to the landowner. Based on the results of the investigations, intact archaeological deposits that maximally span than about 300 years of occupation were documented at the site, including faunal bone and charcoal in the assemblage. Pape‐ Dawson archaeologists recommend that site 41BX2131 is eligible for inclusion to the NRHP and for designation as an SAL. No further work is recommended, as site 41BX2131 was mitigated through detailed hand‐excavations.

If human remains are encountered during construction, Pape‐Dawson recommends that all work in the immediate area should cease and the appropriate agencies be contacted for guidance.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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