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In the second exciting announcement from the Alamo Plaza dig, archaeologists working on the project showed off a handful of the more than 300 artifacts they have unearthed so far.
“We’re going to do a little show-and-tell today and tell you a little bit about what we’ve been finding,” Pape-Dawson Engineers Senior Archaeologist Nesta Anderson said at the daily 10:30 a.m. briefing. “We’ve got a little over 300 artifacts, we still have plenty processing, and we’re still generating artifacts from here at the west wall area and across the street at the south wall area.”
Anderson said that the artifacts vary widely in use and material, and that this diversity is further evidence for what the site was once used for.
“Today we’re showing you ceramics (and) bits of broken ceramics that we’ve recovered. We’ve recovered a bone button. We have some glass – a fragment of glass that is stamped ‘San Antonio Apothecary,’ so something that was locally used from the 19th century,” Anderson said. “We’ve got both locally produced ceramics plus European ceramics, so things that were being imported. We’ve got a fragment of a toothbrush. We’ve got some square nails, which indicate that they’re from the 19th century as well.”
The wide variety of the artifacts as well as the many time periods during which they were made speaks to the diverse uses of the land. The site sits on the former footprint of a RadioShack store, now referred to as the “RadioShack site” by the archaeologists, that was demolished in 1979.
“We always like to recover everyday artifacts to find out how people were living and working, but it also contributes to our knowledge of the west wall,” Anderson said. “In addition to the wall and the arcade that would have been inside it, there were structures where people were living, so this is evidence of people living in these rooms.”
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is serving as Alamo Master Plan Executive Committee co-chair and released a statement today regarding the artifacts.
“It is an exciting time to be a fan of Texas history and archaeological discovery,” Bush said. “The more than 300 items uncovered by our archaeological team will not only provide valuable insights into life in Texas dating back hundreds of years, but also help us envision a better future for the Alamo with exciting educational exhibits and innovative ways of telling the Alamo’s complete story.”
The artifact announcement follows close on the heels of last week’s discovery of adobe bricks from the Spanish colonial era.
“Some of the ceramics we found today could possibly date to the Mission period, including a few shards of Goliad-ware, which was native-made, but was made both before the Europeans got here and through that period of contact,” Anderson said. “Rather than one single piece we are excited about, we’re all ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘aah-ing’ about every piece every time we get anything out. And remember, we’re still processing some artifacts, so that “wow” piece may be coming up. We just never know.”
Anderson said that the artifacts will go through a lengthy process before they will be ready for public display.
“These artifacts are going to be cleaned and we’ll analyze them to find out time period and possible use. We look at material type and then they will be prepared for curation at the University of Texas San Antonio Center for Archaeological Research,” Anderson said.
The dig is in preparation for a multi-million dollar master plan for the Alamo Plaza that the City of San Antonio, the Texas General Land Office, and the Alamo Endowment are developing together. Preservation Design Partnership, a firm based out of Philadelphia, is leading the master plan design.
The Partnership will host its first public input meeting Tuesday, Aug. 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Representatives from each of the three organizations will explain the project, listen to citizen concerns, and answer questions.
Top image: Archaeologists working at the Alamo Plaza dig show a passerby some of recovered artifacts found at the site. Photo courtesy of Reimagine the Alamo.