This weekend, TARL welcomed instructors Dr. Robert Lassen and Sergio Ayala, both from the Gault School of Archaeological Research, who led an excellent workshop in lithic analysis and flintknapping.
Dr. Lassen presented on lithic technology, typology, and analysis, along with a show-and-tell presentation of artifacts from the Gault site and from the TARL collections. The workshop focused on artifact types commonly found in Texas, but we also got to look at some artifacts from Mesoamerica, elsewhere in North America, and even a few Lower Paleolithic artifacts from Africa.
After a morning of classroom work, participants got to check out a flintknapping demo from Sergio, who makes excellent stone tool reproductions by hand. Afterward, all the workshop attendees got to try their hand at making their own stone tools using the same techniques and materials used by prehistoric people.
Thank you so much to our wonderful instructors for volunteering their time and expertise to make this a great workshop! And thanks to all the students, volunteers, and participants who attended–we hope you had a great time.
If you have suggestions for future workshop topics, or would like to volunteer to lead a TARL workshop, please comment below or email our staff.
We know that there are many interesting field projects out there looking for students and promising to help you build your skills, gain experience, and expand your professional network. But which ones are the best fit for your goals (and your budget)?
To help students and others looking for fieldwork opportunities this year, we’ve put together this list of recommended projects. For most projects listed below, students can earn course credit while gaining archeological field experience through these accredited field schools. We recommend that every archeology student attend at least one field school before graduating. Many field schools also accept volunteers–participants who do not earn course credit, and may not be current students. Costs listed below do not include tuition and fees or travel, but most include room and board. Many programs have scholarships available.
UT & International Field Schools
Programme for Belize (University of Texas)
Excavate Maya settlements from the Classic to the Postclassic in the subtropical jungles of northern Belize. This year’s program will include a 2-day workshop in skeletal analysis.
Cost: US $1,765 for one session or $2,765 for both sessions.
Below are some highly recommended field schools in Texas, as well as two volunteer opportunities for students and graduates.
Nueces Canyon & Mission San Lorenzo de la Cruz with the Texas Archeological Society and Texas Tech
This year the Texas Archeological Society field school will return to Camp Wood to excavate historic Mission San Lorenzo de la Cruz. Course credit is available to students through Texas Tech University; the TAS field school is open to all TAS members as well. The TAS field school is an excellent opportunity for archaeologists under 18.
2018 Dates: TAS field school June 9 – June 16. TTU field school May 19 – June 22.
Cost: TAS field school $100+ depending on length of stay, plus TAS membership. TTU field school $850 plus tuition.
West Texas Cave Archeology with the Center for Big Bend Studies
Excavate two caves occupied since the mid-Holocene and learn techniques such as mapping, photogrammetry, and how to manage archeological collections, including many perishable artifacts. Course credit through Sul Ross State University
2018 Dates: May 30 – July 6
Cost: $500 plus tuition.
Info: Contact Dr. Bryon Schroeder (firstname.lastname@example.org).
San Saba River with LUAS
The Llano Uplift Archeological Society is currently conducting fieldwork on Cherokee Creek, at the westernmost known Caddo site in Texas. They are looking for volunteers for Saturday excavations.
2018 Dates: Saturdays, now until excavation is complete
Info: Contact LUAS coordinator Charles Hixson (email@example.com).
Bastrop County with TCAS & THC Stewards
The Travis County Archeological Society is currently conducting excavations at a site near Bastrop in central Texas, in conjunction with the Archeological Stewards program of the Texas Historical Commission. They are looking for volunteers for Sunday mornings.
2018 Dates: Sundays, now until excavation is complete
Info: Contact Nick Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This past weekend, TARL staff and students got to join in one of our favorite events of the year: Explore UT! Each year, the University of Texas opens its campus to thousands of K-12 visitors to give them a look at college life. Each department and research unit is invited to participate by sharing activities that can help students learn about the many majors and career paths open to them as a future UT student.
We had an amazing turnout this year–thousands of students from across the state came out to visit the UT campus. With the help of several amazing student volunteers and friends, we shared a hands-on activity, flintknapping demonstration, and artifact show and tell with a huge number of kids, educators, and parents.
We want to say a huge thank you to our volunteers! This day would not have been possible without your help. Thank you for helping us share our love of archeology with the next generation of UT students!
This month, TARL students, donors, and volunteers had a chance to visit downtown Austin and see the historic buildings and excavation areas uncovered during excavations of Austin’s Guy Town district in the 1990s. TARL Associate Director Jonathan Jarvis led the tour and talked about his experiences working on this project and the challenges of doing archeology in an urban environment. The massive archeological project covered four city blocks under what is now Austin’s City Hall and Second Street district–a part of town that in the 1870s–1910s was full of boarding houses, brothels, saloons, and gambling halls mixed in with the homes of working-class families and everyday business ventures. The tour group started the day with a look at some of the many artifacts recovered by archeologists, which included telltale signs of the lively atmosphere–beer and liquor bottles, poker chips, and dice–as well as the items lost or left behind in the course of everyday activities, such as sewing needles, children’s toys, and dishes. The artifacts recovered by this project are curated at TARL.
We then visited the downtown site, where we learned a bit about the geomorphology of the Colorado River and the terrace where downtown Austin sits. Finally, we got to check out the few remaining historic structures in the area. A highlight of the field trip was a visit to the Schneider Beer Vaults, built by German immigrant J.P. Schneider, who dreamed of starting a brewery. The historic building across the street was also owned by the Schneider family and operated as a general store. We also learned a bit about another downtown historic site, the Susanna Dickinson Hannig House, where Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson lived out her last days. The Dickinson-Hannig House was also excavated during downtown construction in the 1990s, and is now a small museum near the Austin Convention Center.
Special thanks to Josh Prewitt, General Manager of La Condesa, and the La Condesa staff for welcoming us into their space so we could see the underground beer vaults, a unique gem of Austin’s history.
Field trips like this one are a special perk of membership in the Friends of TARL! Join the Friends of TARL to receive invitations to special events in 2018.
TARL is excited to announce that our long-awaited improvements to our largest artifact storage area are getting underway this month. This construction project will provide increased security for our collections, as well as greatly improved climate control and work space.
Here’s what you need to know:
Our artifact collections will be fully accessible throughout the construction project timeline (December 2017 through April 2018).
If you’re planning to conduct research using TARL collections during this time, please give us several weeks of additional lead time to pull artifacts, as we might have to work around the construction crews.
This project will have no effect on other TARL services, such as trinomial requests, file searches, new accessions, or research in the TARL records.
If you’re planning to visit TARL for research purposes between now and April, please send in your request for collections access early. We look forward to seeing you!
Thank you to everyone who came out to this year’s Texas Archeology Month Fair this past weekend!
What an event it was– 68 volunteers representing at least 18 local agencies and groups led activities for more than 400 visitors! The beautiful weather made it a perfect day to get outside and learn about archeology from the experts.
We are so grateful to all our volunteers, to the donors who helped make this event possible, and to our community for being so supportive of this kind of outreach! Thank you to all who shared your expertise and your love of archeology to help inspire the next generation of archeologists.
Here are some of our favorite photos from this year’s Fair. See y’all next year!
On September 23, TARL hosted another great free workshop for students, professional archeologists, and others who wanted to
learn more about sediments in archeology. The workshop focused on both the geological and ethnobotanical aspects of
sedimentation, soil sampling, and sample processing. We were fortunate to have expert instructors Dr. Leslie Bush and Dr.
Charles Frederick, along with graduate student instructor Sam Krause, volunteer their time and effort to share their knowledge
with more than 20 attendees. Throughout the workshop, we learned about Texas geology and ecology, taphonomic processes,
archeological sampling strategies, and post-field sample processing.
Workshop participants came from all quarters: undergraduate and graduate students from UT and other universities, professional archeologists, and folks with an interest in archeology who wanted to build their knowledge and skills. We are glad to offer this kind of opportunity for our community to come together and get some in-depth instruction on topics that will aid them in their professional endeavors. The soils and flotation workshop was a great chance for participants to increase their understanding of both important practical skills and underlying principles that can be enormously helpful as archeologists work to understand and interpret archeological sites. Thank you to our wonderful 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! If you are a professional with a specialty you’d like to share in a workshop, we want to hear from you, too. TARL hopes to continue providing useful and fun opportunities to the community. Follow our social media and join our email list for information on upcoming workshops. Our next workshop will be a discussion of issues surrounding the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), set for Saturday, November 18, 2017.
TARL wants to say a huge thank you to staff writer Michael Barnes of the Austin-American Statesman, who wrote a wonderful piece highlighting our history and collections for our local paper.
Anyone interested in seeing artifacts from TARL’s collections should check out current exhibits at the LBJ Museum, the Witte Museum, and the Texas State History Museum. TARL is not open for public tours; due to the fragile and irreplaceable nature of our collections, access is restricted to credentialed researchers only. But, we do offer various events and volunteer opportunities throughout the year!
Folks interested in getting involved with TARL can follow us on Facebook. Our Facebook page also has a link to sign up for our email list, which we use to send out news about events and research.
Additionally, everyone interested in archeology, history, or science in general should come out to the 2017 Texas Archeology Month Fair, which will take place October 14 here at TARL. The Fair is a collaborative event between TARL, the Texas Historical Commission, and other local agencies, and will feature fun and educational activities for kids and adults.
As part of our efforts to engage students and community members in Texas archeology, TARL tries to offer learning opportunities for our interns and volunteers outside of the lab. This week, we brought a great group of students and volunteers to the Gault site in southern Bell County.
The Gault site (41BL323) first caught the attention of archeologists over 100 years ago. Although some parts of the site were damaged by looting and pay-to-dig operations throughout the 20th century, more recent scientific excavations have uncovered massive, intact Clovis deposits dating as far back as 13,500 BCE and even evidence for older-than-Clovis habitation at the site. No new excavations are going on at Gault right now–the project staff have lots of data to write up and publish before opening up new excavations–but our excellent tour guide, Dr. Tom Williams, was able to show us previous excavation areas and teach us a ton about the site.
As much as we love looking at artifacts in the lab, it’s important to get out and see the sites themselves, so that we can gain a deeper understanding of the role of the landscape in prehistoric lifeways. At the Gault site, our group was able to see how a location like this one is an ideal spot for habitation: it’s close to water and on the border of different ecological zones, meaning that many different types of resources are available nearby. We also got to try our hand at throwing darts using an atlatl, just as Paleoindian hunters may have done!
Another fascinating part of our visit was learning about the various hypotheses for the early peopling of the Americas, and how research at Gault is contributing to our understanding of the earliest inhabitants of our continent. Increasingly, evidence is suggesting that the people all over North America and beyond who used Clovis tool technology were not the first immigrants to these areas. We look forward to seeing all the exciting research coming out of the Gault site!
Thank you to Dr. Tom Williams of the Gault School of Archeological Research for sharing all your time, effort, and expertise–you made this a trip to remember!
NAGPRA, the law that protects human remains and associated artifacts, applies to human burials or remains that can be confidently affiliated with a modern, federally-recognized Native American group. What do archeologists do, though, when remains are found to date back many thousands of years in the past?
TARL Head of Collections Marybeth Tomka was featured in this article In the Summer 2017 issue of American Archaeology. Read the full PDF: