Texas River Center Archaeology, Test Excavations at 41HY160, Hays County, Texas
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This report describes the results of investigations undertaken to assess the archaeological resources at the Spring Lake Site, 41HY160, on the campus of Texas State University-San Marcos in Hays County, Texas. The Spring Lake Site, 41HY160, was recorded in the 1980s at the Aquarena Center, then a privately owned water park. In 1994 Texas State University-San Marcos purchased the Aquarena Center with the intention of converting it into an educational and research facility focused on rivers and springs in Texas. Eventually the University founded the River Systems Institute and it is now housed at the Texas River Center in the restored Hotel at the San Marcos Springs. In preparation for the construction planning for the Texas River Center, an archaeological testing project was undertaken in January 2001 and this report describes the results of that investigation. The primary goal of this project was to determine if intact and well-preserved archaeological materials were contained in the area planned for eventually construction. The archaeological investigations were designed to assess the geological context and the nature of the preserved archaeological materials at the Spring Lake Site, 41HY160. An extensive geological coring effort extracted 22 cores from over 9 meters of alluvial sediments in the San Marcos River floodplain. These cores extended from the Hotel to beyond the football stadium. Five depositional units (A-E from older to younger) were identified, which dated from the Late Pleistocene to the Late Holocene, and all of these depositional units either contained preserved archaeological materials or were contemporary with know archaeological occupations in the immediate vicinity of Spring Lake. A single flake was recovered from geological Core E in Depostional Unit A channel gravels. Radiocarbon dates confirm sediment accumulation spanning the last ~12,000 radiocarbon years. Archaeological test units recovered a wide range of lithic tools, faunal remains, burned rock features and fl oral remains that have been identified as Middle and Late Archaic, and Late Prehistoric in age. Five intact burned rock features were excavated and documented. The careful excavation and archaeomagnetic analysis of burned rock from the cooking features demonstrates the presence of burned rock cooking pits and scattered burned rock hearths. These features were clearly constructed and used as cooking facilities by prehistoric inhabitants. The prehistoric inhabitants also actively hunted a number of large animals that consisted of bison, antelope and deer, and a variety of small species such as rabbits, turtle, fi sh, rodents, and snakes. The more limited floral remains demonstrate the use of cheno-ams for food, and oak, juniper and bald cypress for firewood. Better preserved plant remains were recovered from Depositional Unit A in the geological Core D and these demonstrate the potential for well preserved archaeological floral remains is great in the deeper portions of the site. A great diversity of chipped stone artifacts (projectile points, preforms and other bifaces, scrapers and other unifaces, groundstone tools) provide the most abundant evidence of technological activities, and production and procurement strategies at the site. The wealth of evidence and the secure geological context of these materials, clearly demonstrates that the potential for the recovery of significant archaeological materials at the Spring Lake Site, 41HY160, is great and it is recommended that any impacts of planned construction on archaeological resources be mitigated. All recovered materials are curated at the Archaeological Curation Facility, Texas State University.