Archaeological Fieldwork: 2014

Post (Garza County), Texas

Session 1: June 1st - July 13th
Session 2: July 6th - August 17th


The Post research area is a ca. 83,000 acre ranch near Post, Texas. This ranch is part of a vast turn of the century ranchland that has remained within the same family, having been used continuously for cattle ranching since the 1880s. The landscape generally is pristine and sites undisturbed due to the highly limited access to and minimal development of the ranchland. This situation has resulted in a unprecedented preserved surface expression of the cultural landscape. The research value indicated at targeted sites suggests that they hold significant potential to inform regional models of aboriginal behavior and decision-making during thousands of years of occupation. Understanding the relationship of the material remains recovered from these sites within a wider landscape perspective represents one of the primary research objectives of the ongoing program of investigations.

Current research began in 2005 and the fieldwork for the 2014 season takes place in several localities. Lab work is carried out in the on-site camp facilities as well as in Lubbock, at the Lubbock Lake National Historic Landmark, to help facilitate continuing research in landscape development and hunter-gatherer land use patterns.

Physiographic Setting
Garza County is located in western Texas with part of the county on the eastern Llano Estacado and the other part below the caprock on the Rolling Plains. The landscape below the caprock consists of rough broken land that is drained by numerous tributaries of the Brazos River system. The South Fork of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River runs through the property trending from the northwest to the southeast. The targeted sites are located just above and below the escarpment.


Planned 2014 Fieldwork
Overall, fieldwork for the 2014 field season focuses on continued survey and detailed mapping of hunter-gatherer sites along the edge of the Southern High Plains escarpment. A combination of GIS Trimble base station and total station are used to map the distribution of materials at several key hunter-gatherer sites. Fieldwork also consists of intensive excavation at Macy Locality 100, Macy Locality 126, and Macy Locality 16. The localities have been part of on-going investigations.

Macy Locality 100 is a late Pleistocene faunal locality perserved in alluvial deposits along Spring Creek. Significant finds over the past three field seasons include extinct horse, camel, mammoth, and box turtle elements. This past summer, a complete camel cranium was recovered. Excavations this field season target deposits that likely contain the post-cranial bones from the camel.

Ongoing excavations at Macy Locality 100 target stratified, alluvial deposits that have produced a series of radiocarbon dates and faunal remains that document the terminal Pleistocene and Holocene transition on the Southern High Plains.  One of the few diverse, well-dated faunal localities in the region for the late Pleistocene, the locality continues to produce new evidence of the ancient environment and its inhabitants.  In addition to the remains of Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) and other megafauna, as well as a diverse microfauna, this abundant assemblage also contains the partial skeleton of a western camel (Camelops hesternus).  The skull and neck of this camel have been recovered and the collection of additional elements is a focus of the annual excavations.

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Excavation at Macy 100 locality

 

Macy Locality 126 is a significant Protohistoric period (ca. 500 year old) site located on a terrace overlooking the South Fork of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River. In past field seasons, several hearth features have been excavated, and artifacts surrounding these features have been documented to delineate campsite activities at the site. Significant finds at the site include a turquoise bead, and ceramic shards traded from Pueblo peoples in New Mexico and Caddo peoples from the eastern parts of Texas and Oklahoma. Research at this site this summer continues excavation of hearth features and the Protohistoric occupational surfaces at the site, as well as deeper test units to explore earlier occupations. Ultimately, field research at the site will help establish the development of trade networks and social interactions during the Protohistoric period at approximately the same time as Coronado's expedition crossed the Llano Estacado.

Methodology

Field. Primary components of the fieldwork consist of:

- Systematic recording of the archaeological materials to examine spatial, temporal, and cultural relationships;
- Pedestrian survey of the areas to be investigated;
- Hand excavation of 1m X 1m units in 10cm levels and 2.5cm sublevels within the defined stratigraphy;
- Recording, mapping, and photographing of material found in situ;
- Recovery of micromaterials from 2.5cm provenienced sediments by water washing through nested fine-mesh screen;
- Use of standardized Museum forms to record all information.

Laboratory. The on-site lab involves all crew members checking in objects, crosschecking of field forms, collections organization, and sorting of all resultant concentrates from the water washing of excavated sediments. All recovered objects and documentation are transported to the Landmark's Quaternary Research Center (QRC) for additional processing and analysis. Processing entails accessioning, cleaning, identification, stabilization as necessary, cataloging, bar-coding, data inputting, inventory, and packaging.