Earlier this month, TARL bid farewell to the Hererra Gate, which had been stored in our facility while awaiting conservation work. This massive hardwood gate came to TARL after research by Kay Hindes in the 1990s. The gate is now being stabilized and then hopefully it will be on permanent exhibit alongside its other half at the Texas State History Museum. The 300-year-old wooden gate sat on a nearby ranch for many years after being salvaged from an old Texas
mission. Family legend says that mission was the one and only Alamo in San Antonio! Many thanks to the owners, Evie Patton and the Hererra family.
Every school year, TARL is fortunate to have the help of many undergraduate and graduate students from UT and other colleges. TARL’s internship, work-study, and volunteer programs help students get hands-on experience in a laboratory setting as they explore their interests in archeology, bioarcheology, forensics, museum studies, and information science. This spring, we had quite a few of our great students graduate. We will miss having them around, but we are excited to see what they do next!
TARL Human Osteology Laboratory intern Elizabeth Coggeshall graduated from UT this spring with an honors degree in Anthropology. Elizabeth completed numerous skeletal inventories and analyses as an intern and volunteer at TARL while completing her degree. Her immediate plans include going to South Africa to do fieldwork on forest baboons for the Goudeveld Baboon Project hosted by Duke University. Afterward, she plans to complete a research project with Dr. Rebecca Lewis of UT, apply for graduate school for fall 2018, and spend lots of time with her tripod kitty, Hammy.
TARL Human Osteology Laboratory intern and volunteer Jessie LeViseur graduated from Texas State with a B.S. in Anthropology, focusing on forensics. She started volunteering at TARL in May 2015. She has had the task of checking the integrity of preservation of human remains in the TARL HO lab, as well as representing TARL at the 2015 TAS meeting, where she discussed her work on the WPA-era Harrell site rehab project. She has also completed a TARL internship, and now works part-time in our HO lab. Her goal is to work in a hospital or police lab doing forensic work full time.
TARL Collections & Osteology intern Kimberly Noone graduated from UT with a degree in Anthropology. As an anthropology student she focused on biological anthropology and archaeology. During her time in the TARL Osteology Lab she worked to catalog and re-analyze the collection of human remains, and in our Collections department she completed an updated inventory of the faunal remains collection from the Bonfire Shelter site in southwestern Texas.
Kim initially had a hard time choosing a major at UT, not declaring until the beginning of her junior year, but she discovered an interest in archaeology after taking the human osteology course offered by Dr. John Kappelman. She found the study of burial practices and human remains intriguing and that helped her plan for her future. Kim plans on returning to school to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in Archaeology. Her experiences working at TARL have solidified her interest in lab work and working with remains. She hopes to be able to study human burial practices, using her knowledge of osteology to further research paleopathologies.
TARL work-study student Christina Uribe just graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology. She is also double majoring in Chemistry at in the College of Natural Sciences. Tina originally came to UT as a natural sciences major, but during her first year she took the anthropology introduction course and has been hooked ever since. After that, Tina continued taking various anthropology courses that included topics such as primate anatomy, Maya civilization, and digital data systems in archaeology. She eventually added anthropology as a second major and studied abroad last summer at the field school in Belize as part of the Programme for Belize Archaeological Project. This past year, Tina was a work-study intern at TARL. She primarily handled data entry, transferring site records and their respective inventory to an online database. Through this work she was able to gain a greater understanding of Texas archaeology. In the future Tina would like to study biological anthropology further and find a way to combine her studies in chemistry and anthropology, possibly in forensics. After finishing up her Chemistry degree at UT this year, Tina plans to get some additional experience to help her narrow down her career options. Once she has a clear idea of what she’d like to focus on, she will attend graduate school to further her education.
TARL volunteer Morgan Lubenow recently graduated from UT with a B.A. in Anthropology. Morgan’s last year was a whirlwind, as she completed a study abroad course at the Turkana Basin Institute (Turkana, Kenya, Africa) in the fall semester and a full work and internship schedule in the Spring Semester. Currently Morgan is working for the Girl Scouts of Central Texas as a Program Manager for an overnight camp called Camp Kachina. This position is a longtime goal for Morgan, so she is very excited. After her summer camp position ends she’ll be starting up a road trip to see as many of the US’s National Parks and Historic sites as possible. She’ll be traveling August through May with a few stops home. After her epic road trip, Morgan hopes to attend graduate school beginning in the fall of 2018. She is currently looking at Duke as well as Stony Brook University.
Not all of TARL’s students have graduated and left us! Former intern Sheldon Smith and volunteer Meaghan O’Brien are currently building up their field experience and archeological skills at the UT Programme for Belize Archeological Project. TARL volunteer and part-time collections staff Katie Kitch is volunteering with the Texas Historical Commission. And, several of our wonderful volunteers are still coming out to TARL regularly to help us out with important lab work and collections tasks. Thanks to all our volunteers!
This Saturday, TARL held another free, hands-on workshop for experimental archeologists and those interested in learning more about prehistoric lithic technologies. Our flintknapping workshop was led by expert knappers Chris Ringstaff of TxDOT and Dr. Robert Lassen of Texas State University. A dozen or so workshop participants, ranging from undergrads and first-timers to seasoned knappers and professionals, showed up to try their hand at flintknapping.
The instructors covered a variety of knapping techniques including hard- and soft-hammer percussion, pressure flaking, and indirect percussion. They brought several hundred pounds of our local Edwards chert and other raw materials for participants to use. Everyone had a fun day and gained some new insights into prehistoric stone tool production, lithic analysis, and subsistence techniques.
Thank you to our incredible instructors for putting so much time and effort into making this a great workshop!
If you have suggestions for future workshops that would benefit you as a student or archeological professional, please let us know! We want to continue providing useful and fun opportunities to the community.
Each year, UT hosts a week of events showcasing independent research done by undergraduate and graduate students across departments. This year, TARL was proud to support several of our student interns and volunteers as they presented their research projects.
Former TARL collections intern Sheldon Smith presented his archeological work on ceramic raw material sourcing at the Maya site of Colha, which he hopes to complete this summer during the Programme for Belize field season. Current TARL Human Osteology Lab intern Elizabeth Coggeshall presented on her primate gut microbe research, which she has conducted in collaboration with various other labs. And, TARL volunteer and anthropology/ history double major Jenny Levin demonstrated the power of technology to enhance our understanding of the past as she explained her work creating a website that compiles the layers of UT’s history into an interactive experience. We are extremely proud of these great students and we know they’ll go on to great things in the future!
TARL also hosted a table at the Longhorn Research Bazaar, where we gave out information on research opportunities we offer for students. TARL is always looking for students who are interested in conducting independent research at the graduate or undergraduate level–our collections and library are available to you! TARL collections can be used for senior theses, master’s theses, doctoral dissertations, independent studies, and much more. Contact us to begin exploring opportunities.
This week, TARL is sad to say goodbye to one of our staff. Dr. Stacy Drake, TARL’s Staff Osteologist and NAGPRA Coordinator, has left us for a great new opportunity to work at the Field Museum in Chicago. Stacy will be working on osteological analysis and NAGPRA consultation and repatriation work at the Field Museum.
During her time at TARL, Stacy oversaw the rehabilitation and analysis of many human remains in the TARL Human Osteology Laboratory. She also mentored numerous students and volunteers, and assisted with several tribal consultations on NAGPRA and repatriation issues. Stacy will be greatly missed at TARL but we wish her all the best in her new position!
For the time being, all inquiries regarding human osteological research or NAGPRA should be directed to TARL’s Head of Collections, Marybeth Tomka (email@example.com).
TARL is looking for student researchers and volunteers for two upcoming events this spring semester. Want to present your independent research or share your love of archeology with others? Here’s your chance!
UT Research Week 2017
UT Research Week is a chance for undergraduates to present their research and find new research opportunities. This year, TARL will be hosting a table at the Longhorn Research Bazaar (April 19) for students who want to present research. We’ll also be passing out information about volunteer and internship opportunities at TARL during this event. If we have a lot of students with research they want to share, we may organize a symposium as well!
If you’re interested in presenting research or helping disseminate information at this event, please get in touch with us today!
Explore UT 2017
Explore UT is an annual event designed to give young students a taste of university life. TARL joins in the fun every year with several tables full of hands-on archeological activities. This year we’ll be doing rock art, beaded bracelets, and more. We need volunteers to help! Students and adults are welcome; no experience needed.
To volunteer for one of these activities, please email us at FriendsofTARL@utexas.edu, or leave a comment below.
Tawnya Waggle is a visiting researcher from Eastern New Mexico State University. This article is part of TARL’s December 2016 newsletter.
I am a graduate student at Eastern New Mexico University studying collections from the Blackwater Draw Site excavated by the Texas Memorial Museum. I recently visited TARL to collect lithic attribute data in order to understand the mobility of Folsom and Late Paleoindian occupations represented at the Blackwater Draw Site. I successfully collected metric and qualitative data, and took photographs of the artifacts critical to my research. Thanks to the generous support of TARL, I was granted access to the collections, a research space, and a photo set-up area. The collected data will be analyzed to compare the mobility of the Folsom and Late Paleoindian occupations. I hope to contribute to the existing knowledge of Paleoindian mobility on the Southern Plains with the completion of my research.
Dan Prikryl is a visiting researcher at TARL who has conducted extensive archeological projects across Texas. This article is part of TARL’s December 2016 newsletter.
The Rob Roy Site, 41TV41, is a prehistoric campsite located on Lake Austin in Travis County, Texas. A large-scale excavation project was conducted December 1938 to April 1939 by the University of Texas (UT) at Austin with funds provided by a federal agency called the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The purpose of the project was to help salvage materials from important archaeological sites that were to be inundated by the construction of a chain of reservoirs on the Colorado River known today as the Highland Lakes.
The UT-WPA excavation block extended for a length of 185 feet on the terrace edge adjacent to the river channel and the maximum width of the excavation block was 45 feet. The site was excavated by the step profile method and the maximum depth of excavations of the terraced profile was 27.5 feet below ground surface (see attached photograph). Excavation methods and data recording were crude in comparison to current standards. However, in areas where burned rock features or dense accumulations of lithic artifacts and faunal materials were present, the majority of the burned rock features and artifacts being recorded by their exact depths below a datum marker established at the top of the terrace.
A full report of the excavation project was not ever published because the WPA program was terminated about the time that the overall excavation projects on Lake Austin and Lake Travis were completed. Since August of this year, I have been studying the notes and artifacts at TARL related to the Rob Roy excavations. My review indicates that some portions of the excavation block appear to contain stratified prehistoric deposits. In other areas of the excavation block, erosion and redeposition have led to mixing of deposits. The Late Archaic component which contains some burned rock features, lithic tools and faunal materials has received the majority of my attention. I hope to complete an analysis of the site materials and then publish a journal article on the Rob Roy excavation project.
Dr. Robinson is a visiting researcher at TARL who spends a good deal of time here working on various collections from around Texas. This article is from TARL’s December 2016 newsletter.
Recent research in the TARL microscopy lab has placed a highly magnified focus on a small section of a prehistoric Caddo structure from 41LR2, the Sanders site, a mound site in the Caddo country of northeast Texas. The material is silty clay layers of two colors which came from the West mound.
The specimen was found by Tim Perttula, Mark Walters, and Bo Nelson, archeologists with ongoing research interests in the Sanders site. They noticed that the item was in two colors, a yellowish brown (10YR 7/4; very pale brown) of the immediate floor about one cm thick; and a darker, grayish brown (10YR 3/2; very dark grayish brown) color above the floor surface, starting about 2.3 cm thick in the specimen (this is not the full thickness of the original deposit). The specimen has a surface with rain cracks and a clear stick impression near one edge. This may or may not indicate a structural floor surface.
All the microscope work was accomplished in the TARL microscopy lab on the Olympus BH2 polarizing light stereoscopic microscope. The initial examination and transect counting were made at 100X magnification.
As of this writing, the microscope work has been finished except for follow-up checks as needed. All the counts need to be added to a spreadsheet that will facilitate the making of graphs and statistical comparisons.
The analysis returned a wealth of data on the micromorphology and mineral composition of the sample. Particles and bodies identified in the specimen include silt quartz, hematite, hornblende, micas, pyroxene, feldspar, voids, and organic materials.
The specimen shows no petrographic difference between the materals of different colors. The material is technically a clayey silt rather than a clay, but it is rich in additional particles and bodies. These additional minerals and organic bodies may provide additional information on the structures in the mound.
The work reported here has been carried out entirely at the TARL microscopy laboratory, a facility that is proving flexible to address a variety of research topics. Marilyn Shoberg of TARL manages the microscopy lab under the direction of Dr. Brian Roberts. The outsized sample thin section was the result of customized work by National Petrographic Service of Houston, Texas.
1980 Petrology of Sedimentary Rocks. Hemphill Publishing Company. Austin.
Judith Finger is a visiting researcher at TARL studying Southwestern basketry from the prehistoric and historic periods. This article is part of TARL’s December 2016 newsletter.
In October, 2016, I visited TARL to study baskets in the Paul T. Seashore Collection of Native American baskets. The baskets, most dating to the early 1900s were donated to the Texas Memorial Museum in 1950. The Collection includes baskets from many California, Southwest, and Northwest Coast tribal groups as well as other less well known groups. There are traditional, utilitarian baskets, made for the Indians’ own use in addition to fancier, made-for-market ones, those to be sold to tourists and collectors as the Native Americans became part of the dominant Anglo cash economy.
For the past ten years, Dr. Catherine Fowler, Professor Emerita of the University of Nevada, Reno, and I have been researching the baskets collected by Helen J. Stewart, a pioneer rancher in Las Vegas, Nevada. She amassed a collection of 550 baskets, focusing on baskets woven by neighboring Southern Paiute and Nevada Shoshone women. The informative TMM publication on the Seashore Collection, which we came across during our research, contained four baskets that we were able to identify as being from the Stewart Collection based on historic photographs of the Collection.
Thanks to the cooperation and assistance of Marybeth Tomka and Lauren Bussiere, I was able to spend time with the Seashore Collection and examine the four baskets, and several others I requested, with my own eyes and hands, to identify materials and get a better sense of construction techniques and design layouts. While I hoped to find detailed collection history in the accession file, beyond a typed list of the collection objects, there was not much else. However, information on this inventory did provide important historical context for some of the other baskets, such as a Hopi coiled plaque, woven on Second Mesa, and collected by Paul Seashore. The large plaque with a geometric design originally came from the collection of Heinrich (Henry) Voth, a Mennonite missionary and minister, born in Southern Russia, who lived with the Hopi in the 1890s. This basket was dated to the late 1880s.
Discussions with the TARL staff alerted me to the fact that there might well be additional files still in storage due to the move of the baskets from the Texas Memorial Museum to TARL about 10 years ago. As we continue our research and the TARL staff works through the containers still in storage, better, more detailed information may be discovered. In the meantime, Dr. Fowler and I are still looking at museum collections that include Helen Stewart’s baskets in preparation for a publication about Southern Paiute basketry and the Stewart Collection.