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.