Archaeological Fieldwork: 2017

Lubbock Lake Landmark
Lubbock County, Texas

Session: July 10th - August 20th


Lubbock Lake is located on the Southern High Plains in a meander of an ancient valley (Yellowhouse Draw) near ancient springs. People used the water resources in the draw for thousands of years until those resources went dry in the early 1930s. In 1936, the city of Lubbock dredged the meander in an effort to revitalize the underground springs. That activity revealed the long-occupied site.

The first explorations of the site were conducted in 1939 by the West Texas Museum (now the Museum of Texas Tech University). By the late 1940s, several Folsom Period (10,800-10,300 years ago) bison kills were discovered. Charred bison bones from an ancient bison kill from a then unidentified Paleoindian group produced the first ever radiocarbon date (currently the most accurate form of dating) for Paleoindian material (9,800 years old). The Landmark currently serves as a field laboratory for geology, soils, and radiocarbon dating studies, as well as being an active archaeological and natural history preserve.

Physiographic Setting
The Lubbock Lake Landmark is located on the southeastern portion of the Southern High Plains (Llano Estacado) of western Texas. The ca. 300 acre (121 hectare) site encompasses both upland and lowland settings. The Southern High Plains today has a continental climate. The region experiences a large temperature range. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, but highs are in the spring and fall. Summer droughts are common due to high pressure that dominates the region during this time.

2017 Fieldwork
For the 2017 Field Season, the Landmark research team will renew investigations of Protohistoric-age (1450-1650) Apache hunter-gatherers. Excavation will focus on exposing more of the Protohistoric living surface and features preserved at Area 8.

The Landmark is developing research to examine the territorial identity of these hunter-gatherers. Information learned from this field work will help to address the following research questions:
1. What is the relationship between material culture, identity, and territories?
2. Did the Apache develop a territorial identity on the landscape that distinguished themselves from other hunter-gatherer groups?

A territory is defined as a landscape spatial unit controlled by a society that share a social identity and tie to the landscape and distinguish themselves from other societies in adjacent territories. From this perspective, identity is equivalent to a territory. Territories are defined and infused with multiple layers of socially constructed meaning through daily interactions with the landscape.

The Protohistoric on the Southern High Plains is a culturally dynamic period marked by the migration of the Apache into the region, and the development of an intensive Southwest Puebloan trade network. Pedro de Castañeda, the chronicler of the Coronado expedition (1540-1542 AD), documented two culturally distinct nomadic bison hunting groups. This research will explore the formation of Apache territorial identity in relationship to other hunter-gatherer groups in the region.


Field. Primary components of the fieldwork consist of:

- Hand excavation of 1m X 1m units in 10cm levels and 2.5cm sublevels;
- Recording, mapping, and photographing of material found in situ;
- Recovery of micromaterials from provenienced sediments by water washing through nested fine-mesh screen;
- Fragile bone stabilized initially in the field with conservation grade resin solution prior to removal;
- Plaster jacketing employed for very fragile large specimens;
- Use of standardized Museum forms to record all information.

Laboratory. The Landmark's on-site lab in the Quaternary Research Center (QRC) involves all crew members on a daily basis checking in objects, cross-checking field forms, and sorting all resultant concentrates from the water washing of excavated sediments. These acitivities support the processing practices. Processing entails accessioning, cleaning, identifiying, stabilizing as necessary, cataloging, bar-coding, data inputting, inventorying, and packaging.