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.
Chris Ringstaff is Staff Archeologist at the Texas Department of Transportation and a visiting researcher at TARL. This article is part of TARL’s December 2016 newsletter.
As part of my continuing research into lithic technology of the South Texas Archaic sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), I have been conducting a study of bifaces from the A.E. Anderson collection and Lino Site (41WB437) collections over the past few months. The A.E. Anderson collection was chosen as it provides a large multi-county sample of Lower Rio Grande stone tools and may provide insight into regional technological and raw material variability. The Lino Site was selected as it is one of few stratified archeological sites in the region and offers a glimpse into diachronic change in Archaic period stone tool technology.
This ongoing study constitutes one aspect of TxDOT’s alternative mitigation project for site 41ZP191. The collections review is largely focused on the Middle Archaic triangular tradition and consists of a metric and technological analysis of complete and use-broken specimens as well as triangular preforms and staged bifaces. The data collected will be used to compare with specimens recovered from 41ZP191 and other excavated sites from the region. In addition, data from the staged bifaces and preforms are being used as a comparative control for a recent experimental lithic study also associated with the 41ZP191 Project. The experimental study explores the use of debitage analysis to examine biface production features and estimate labor expenditure.
The collections housed at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory offer incredible research opportunities for professional archeologists, graduate and undergraduate researchers, and avocational archeologists alike. As a visiting researcher, I found the staff at TARL knowledgeable, courteous, and helpful. They not only assisted me with locating collections and provided me lab space but made me feel welcomed as a fellow colleague, my sincere thanks to you all.
Dr. Selden is a visiting researcher from the Center for Regional Heritage Research, Stephen F. Austin State University. The following article is part of TARL’s December 2016 newsletter.
Over the course of 2016, my 3D scanners and I had the opportunity to visit the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) on two occasions. Both of those projects are focused upon collecting data for the ongoing shape analyses (geometric morphometrics) of Caddo vessels; however, I always try to scan other artifacts and specimens as they are available. Those scans rarely get the attention that they deserve, and I thought this a proper forum to engage in a short discussion regarding one of these artifacts; a large biface from the George C. Davis site (41CE19) in East Texas (Figure 1).
This specimen (4078-63) comes from Feature 134 at the Davis site, and was associated with Skeleton 5. There is something adhering to the biface; according to Shafer (1973), this may be the remains of a leather sheath. He noted that edge smoothing and some polishing occurs almost around the full perimeter of the biface, which may have resulted from being carried in (and lightly abrading against) a loose sheath of bark or leather (Shafer 1973). This material is still present on the biface, and can also be seen on several of the Gahagan bifaces from the George C. Davis site. The biface is an impressive 480 mm (48 cm) in length.
Using those data from the 3D model, the biface was made into a 3D puzzle (Figure 2); you can download the plans here. There are 37 puzzle pieces that can be cut out from five sheets of 8.5×11″ paper; thus there is no need for a 3D printer. This puzzle is a bit more challenging than the ceramic puzzles. There are 754 triangles and 380 vertices–to put that in perspective, the decimated (50%) 3D model has over 2,400,000 triangles and 1,200,000 vertices. As you build the puzzle, take some time to ponder the skill, care and craftsmanship that the original Caddo maker took to create such an incredible tool.