Office of Historic Preservation
Archaeology

OHP Overview

 

The archaeological record in Bexar County dates back at least 11,200 years. The first occupations occurred in the Paleo-Indian period during the last part of the Pleistocene, indicated by the occurrence of scattered Clovis and Folsom spear points. Groups were likely small and highly mobile. Clovis peoples (9200 B.C.) hunted Ice Age mammals, such as mammoth, and the later Folsom bands (8800 B.C.) pursued large, extinct species of bison (buffalo). Among the important Late Paleo-Indian sites in Bexar County are Pavo Real, St. Mary’s Hall, the Richard Beene site, and the Chandler Site, recently excavated by the Southern Texas Archaeological Association (STAA) in cooperation with the City of San Antonio and private developers. As modern environments began to emerge around 10,000 years ago, Paleo-Indian peoples were more numerous, and there is widespread evidence of occupation throughout the region.

The hunting and gathering patterns of this early timeframe, involving modern species of animals and plants, began to be intensified by 8,000 B.C., leading to the development of Archaic cultures. This way of life lasted for thousands of years, reflected by regional specialization and locally distinctive types of projectile points, scrapers, and other stone tools. Important Archaic sites include those along Panther Springs Creek within the Walker Ranch National Register District, Medina River sites, and the Culebra Creek sites. It was not until about 500 A.D. that changes in this long-lived tradition began to emerge.

The introduction of the bow and arrow marked the beginning of the Late Prehistoric period. For over 10,000 years, the ancient hunters had used the spear and spear-thrower as their main weapon, and this began to be replaced by the bow and arrow around 2000 years ago. The most distinctive archaeological indicator is the presence of tiny arrow points, and later, around A.D. 1300, the intensified hunting of buffalo. The material culture from this era is notable for the presence of pottery and other distinctive artifacts. With the arrival of the Spanish in the region in the late 17th century, the native peoples of the Historic period began to go into the missions. The raids of invading Lipan Apache bands spurred this transition. Those Native Americans who went into the missions were joined by groups from south Texas and northeast Mexico. These groups continued their distinctive bone-tempered pottery, along with stone-tool making, throughout the Spanish colonial period.

San Antonio is best known for the four 18th century Spanish missions that are now part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and a fifth mission, San Antonio de Valero, or the Alamo. The missions, and features linked to the missions (such as acequias, gristmills, and dams), have received a great deal of archaeological attention. The Spanish presidio, Presidio de Bejar begun in 1722 and located in what is now downtown San Antonio, was recently excavated by the University of Texas at San Antonio. Archaeological investigations in Bexar County include those at site 41BX274, the Perez Rancho, one of the few privately owned Spanish Colonial ranches documented in the region.

The expansion of 19th century San Antonio saw the rise of neighborhoods around the missions and adjacent to the San Antonio river corridor. Eventually, the construction of railroads, industrial areas, and other facets of urban growth occurred. Urban archaeological sites have been documented for the construction of major public projects such as Rivercenter Mall, the Alamodome, and the new Hyatt Regency Convention Center Hotel.

A total of over 2100 archaeological sites have been recorded in San Antonio and throughout Bexar County. The Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) is actively involved in the discovery, documentation, and preservation of these significant cultural resources. Archaeological sites are protected under the City of San Antonio Unified Development Code (UDC). The UDC has one of the strongest preservation ordinances in the country for the protection of cultural resources including protection measures for archaeological sites.


These projected acequia alignments were created from the synthesis of data found in numerous historical documents, archival maps, and research. Special thanks to the following for their assistance in the creation of these maps:

• Waynne Cox- Acequia Map Compiled for the OHP
• Joshua Haefner, Hicks and Company- Map of Acequias and Fortifications Produced for COSA
• Chris Dayton, Cox McClain Environmental Consulting, Inc.- Digitization of Acequia Routes Produced for COSA
• Office of Historic Preservation, City of San Antonio


Maps

From North to south:

 

Hildebrand Ave to Martin St – Acequia del Alamo, Alazan Acequia, Arocha Acequia, Navarro Acequia, San Antonio Valley Ditch, San Pedro/Principal Acequia, Segundo/Laredo St Acequia, Upper Labor Acequia


Martin St to Mitchell St Acequia del Alamo, Alazan Acequia, Navarro Acequia, Pajalache/Concepcion Acequia, San Antonio Valley Ditch, San Pedro/Principal Acequia, Segundo/Laredo St Acequia


Mitchell St to SE Military Dr – Pajalache/Concepcion Acequia, San Jose Acequia, San Juan Acequia


SE Military Dr to I-410 Espada Acequia, San Jose Acequia, San Juan Acequia


I-410 to Cassin Lake– Espada Acequia, San Juan Acequia



Disclaimer – The City of San Antonio (COSA) does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, or usefulness of any information. COSA does not warrant the completeness, timeliness, or positional, thematic, and attribute accuracy of the GIS data. The GIS data, cartographic products, and associated applications are not legal representations of the depicted data. GIS data is derived from multiple sources, and is constantly undergoing revision. Under no circumstances should GIS products be used for final design purposes. COSA provides this information on an “as is” basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, and assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information. The appropriate City department should always be contacted for official and current information.

A - C  |   D - F  |   G - I  |   J - L  |   M - O  |   P - S  |   T - V  |   W - Z

Archaeological Report Submission Guidelines

Guidelines for archaeological report submission to the City of San Antonio were adopted in an effort to simplify the submission process and amalgamate cultural resource management (CRM) reports with published archaeological material in academia.  All reports sharing the same style guidelines will expedite the research process and advance archaeological investigations in San Antonio.

Archaeological Report Submission Guidelines

 


Archaeological Reports

A
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


B
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


C
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


D
Private Development


E
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


F
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


G
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


H
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


I
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects
J
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects
K
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


L
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


M
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


N
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


O
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


P
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


R
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


S
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


T
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


U
Private Development


V
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


W
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects Private Development


Z
Public Projects under Antiquities Code and Section 106 Projects

 

Texas Archaeology Month Events 2016

Save the Dates for the following Texas Archeology Month events:

El Camino Real de los Tejas Site Certification Media Conference

Thursday, October 12, 2016

1:30 -1:45 PM

The steps of City Hall

100 Military Plaza

San Antonio, Texas

As part of Texas Archaeology Month (TAM) in October, OHP will host a press event on the steps of City Hall to announce the certification of these significant sites and the nationally important designations. Our office has been working with the National Trails Intermountain Region, National Park Service in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to certify eight new sites, in addition to a previously designated one, owned by the City of San Antonio as official El Camino Real de los Tejas Historic Sites. The trail was designated a National Historic Trail by Congress in October 2004.

Please join Mayor Ivy Taylor, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, Councilman Roberto Trevino, Councilman Alan Warrick (invited), Councilman Rey Saldana (invited), Councilman Mike Gallagher, Aaron Mahr, Superintendent, National Park Service National Trails Intermountain Region Office and other dignitaries as we celebrate this momentous occasion!

In case of inclement weather, the event will be held in the Media Briefing Room in City Hall. For more information, please contact Ximena Copa-Wiggins at 210-557-3992.
   

Archaeology Day at Mission San Jose

Saturday, October 15, 2016

10:00AM - 3:00PM

Mission San Jose

6701 San Jose Drive

San Antonio, Texas

Mission San José hosts free hands-on activities, exhibits, and demonstrations for the whole family. Activities will emphasize techniques, information learned from digs/artifacts found at the missions, importance of preservation, and future archeology planned for the park. Co-sponsors are the UTSA's Institute of Texan Cultures and Legacy Program, Southern Texas Archeological Association, San Antonio Museum of Art, City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation, Texas Historical Commission's Casa Navarro, San Antonio River Authority, and Southwest Texas Archeology Society, as part of Texas Archeology month. Additional information is available at http://www.nps.gov/saan/planyourvisit/calendar.htm
   

Currents in Texas Archaeology Symposium

Friday, October 21, 2016

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

The Witte Museum

3801 Broadway Avenue

San Antonio, Texas

Join the Witte Museum and the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation for the third annual Currents in Texas Archaeology Symposium. The symposium will feature scholarly sessions exploring fascinating recent and current archaeological discoveries from the San Antonio area, including recent excavations at The Alamo, the probable first site of Mission San Antonio de Valero, and the Spanish Colonial Powder House. Additional information is available at https://www.wittemuseum.org/exhibitions/calendar

 

 

Archaeology exploration! program

The Archaeology Exploration! Program is an innovative program between the Brackenridge Park Conservancy (BPC), the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP), the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR, UTSA), the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) and the Witte Museum.  The program offers a variety of opportunities for students at area San Antonio schools to learn and experience the rich archaeological and cultural heritage of San Antonio, prehistoric lifeways, and archaeological field methods as well as the natural environment of the San Antonio River. Kay Hindes, City Archaeologist, and Matthew Elverson, Assistant City Archaeologist, participate in these events each year.

 

Flintknapping Demonstration at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens

April 7, 2015

 

 

Texas Tech University

Archaeological Field School

Perez Rancho Site







Perez Rancho Excavations-Jonathan Welch Interview

 

 

 

March 14-21, 2015

An exciting archaeological excavation took place this year at 41BX274, the Lt. Colonel Ygnacio Perez Rancho archaeological site, a Spanish Colonial ranch complex in the San Antonio city limits. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and is a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL). The Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) worked with Dr. Tamra Walter, Professor of Anthropology at Texas Tech University, to bring the field school to San Antonio.  Eight Texas Tech students participated in the field work. Jonathan Welch, a graduate student at Texas Tech plans to analyze the collected data and discuss the findings for his master’s thesis. The students applied archaeological field methods to accurately document, and later interpret, discoveries in the field.

The archaeological site, first surveyed in the 1970’s by professional archaeologists, is recorded as a multicomponent site, representing a prehistoric and historic occupation of the area. This investigation focused on the historic component of the site, specifically a small excavation within a standing wooden structure, possibly a Spanish Colonial jacal, and another location within the stone remains of the original ranch homestead. It is posited that these two historic features represent a contemporaneous use of the property, and follow the general layout of a Spanish Colonial ranch complex. This investigation endeavors to elucidate questions regarding the construction techniques and habitation of the possible jacal structure. Furthermore, excavations by the original stone house targeted a large anomaly previously detected in a ground penetrating radar survey. In addition to illuminating the rich and diverse cultural heritage of San Antonio, this archaeological investigation provides valuable, hands-on experience to aspiring archaeologists, and answers serious archaeological inquiries regarding Spanish Colonial lifeways in the region. 

Perez Rancho Excavations-Michael Hogan Interview





 

Perez Rancho Excavations-Edgar Vazquez Interview



 

 

 

Perez Rancho Excavations-Rebecca Schultz Interview







 

 

Perez Rancho Excavations-Donita Dana Interview



                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 



 







 







 







 







 







 







 





 







 







 





















TEXAS ARCHEOLOGY MONTH EVENTS

STEM Saturday: Archaeology Family Day!

October 8

Witte Museum

The Office of Historic Preservation assisted the Witte Museum for the annual STEM Saturday: Archaeology Family Day! event. Matthew Elverson, Assistant City Archaeologist, instructed children and adults on proper archaeological excavation techniques. The event also included atlatl tossing, rock art painting, and textile production from natural materials.

El Camino Real de los Tejas Site Certification Media Conference

October 13

City Hall

In celebration of Texas Archaeology Month (TAM) in October, the OHP hosted a press event at City Hall to announce the certification of significant sites associated with the El Camino Real de los Tejas and their nationally important designations. Our office has been working with the National Trails Intermountain Region, National Park Service in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to certify eight new sites, in addition to a previously designated one, owned by the City of San Antonio as official El Camino Real de los Tejas Historic Sites. City Manager Sheryl Sculley, Councilman Roberto Trevino, Councilman Mike Gallagher, Aaron Mahr, Superintendent, National Park Service National Trails Intermountain Region Office and Shanon Miller, Office of Historic Preservation Director, announced the site certifications. The trail was designated a National Historic Trail by Congress in October 2004.

The Probable First Site of Mission San Antonio de Valero Presentation

October 13

King William Association

The Office of Historic Preservation_s Kay Hindes, City Archaeologist, presented the archival and archaeological information of the probable first site of Mission San Antonio de Valero to the King William Association. The mission, later known as The Alamo, was believed to be located in its first location for about 12 months before it was moved to a second location (hypothesized to be in the area of present day La Villita).

Archaeology Day at Mission San José

October 15

Mission San José

The Office of Historic Preservation participated in the annual Archaeology Day at Mission San José event and offered a painted pebbles activity. The National Park Service, in partnership with local and regional organizations, hosted free hands-on activities, exhibits, and demonstrations for the whole family at Mission San José in celebration of National Archaeology Day. The event's activities emphasized archaeological techniques, information learned from excavations/artifacts found at the missions, and the importance of preservation.

Currents in Texas Archaeology Symposium

October 21

Witte Museum

This year's Currents in Texas Archaeology Symposium highlighted three Spanish colonial sites, all with ties to the Mission San Antonio de Valero, later becoming the military fortress of The Alamo. Archival and archaeological investigations on the search and new discovery of the Spanish Colonial Powder House and Watch Tower, erected in the early 1800's, were presented by Matthew Elverson, Assistant City Archaeologist. Kay Hindes, City Archaeologist, discussed the probable first site of the Mission San Antonio de Valero, later known as The Alamo. The third and final location is where it is located today in Alamo Plaza. Dr. Nesta Anderson, Pape-Dawson Engineers, presented the results of the most recent archaeological investigations conducted at The Alamo.

Texas Archeology Month Kick-Off Event, 2015
Plaza de Armas Building, San Antonio, Texas

Archaeology in the News

  • "Alamo Excavation Team Digs For Lost Walls" - TPR
  • "Archeologists Discover Part of a Wall During Alamo Excavations" - SA Current
  • "Archaeologists make 'exciting' discovery in Alamo dig" - Fox NEws
  • "Archaeological dig that uncovered about 1,700 artifacts in Alamo Plaza concludes" - MySa
  • "Digs may unearth Alamo’s multilayered history" - Express News
  • "Alamo dig: Archaeologists unearth tip of Mexican sword" - Fox News
  • "Alamo Plaza digs expose hundreds of artifacts" - Express News
  • "Alamo Dig Yields Colonial Wall Remnants" - Texas Tribune
  • "Here’s what archaeologists digging around the Alamo are hoping to find" - Statesman
  • "New Portion of Alamo Wall Found in Archeological Dig" - Breitbart
  • "Archaeological dig that uncovered about 1,700 artifacts in Alamo Plaza concludes" - MySA
  • "Archaeology work comes to end at Alamo" - KSAT
  • "Tip of Mexican sword found in excavation near Alamo" - KSAT
  • "Archeological projects start to dig up secrets at the Alamo" - Reuters
  • "The Alamo Plaza is bursting with secrets" - Chron
  • ‘Discovery Phase’ of Alamo Plaza Archaeological Dig ‘Substantially’ Completed - Rivard Report
  • "Alamo leaders ready to dig into first phase of historic transformation" - BizJournals
  • "The State of Texas: Digging Up The Past At The Alamo" - Texas Monthly
  • "Reimagining the Alamo wraps up excavation in the plaza area" - News West 9
  • "What's underneath the Alamo compound? Device mapping the area to uncover history" - Fox San Antonio
  • "Archaeologists believe they have found a gate to the Alamo on the south wall" - The Vintage News
  • "Big discovery at Alamo dig site" - KVUE
  • "Update From The Alamo" - Archaeology.org
  • "Unearthed Stones found at Alamo - Press Reader
  • "Mexican Sword Tip Found At Alamo" - News Network Archaeology
  • "Rediscovering The Alamo" - ArchaeologicalConservancy.org
  • "19th Century Archaeological Discoveries Illuminated at the Witte" - Rivard Report
  • "East Side historic site discovered" - San Antonio Express News
  • "City Council gets update on redeveloping the Alamo" - KSAT
  • "Careful study, digs to shape Alamo plan" - San Antonio Express News
  • "Alamo Master Plan Launches Archeological Study, Public Engagement Process" - Rivard Report
  • "Redesigning The Alamo Presents A Unique Challenge" - Texas Public Radio
  • City Archaeologist Discusses San Antonio’s First Mission - Rivard Report
  • Archaeologists reveal probable sites of two missions that predate the Alamo - News 4 San Antonio
  • Artifacts Mark the Spot of Possible First San Antonio Mission - Archaeology.org
  • Alamo's predecessors revealed: Two missions established before Shrine of Texas Liberty - FOX 29 San Antonio
  • Artifacts reveal more of city’s origins - San Antonio Express-News
  • Digging into our past - Construction News
  • October is Texas Archaeology Month - Rivard Report
  • Newly Excavated Artifacts Help Tell San Antonio's History - Texas Public Radio
  • Remembering Everyday People: Our Rural Heritage Merits Attention (Voelker Farm) - Postcards from San Antonio
  • "Search for Original Mission May Resume in Spring" - San Antonio Express News
  • "This Could be Alamo Story's Opening Chapter" - San Antonio Express-News
  • Lewis Canyon Petroglyphs (PDF)
  • "Long-buried Parts of Acequia Unearthed" - San Antonio Express News (PDF)
  • Texas Archeological Society Named Preserve America Steward (PDF)
  • "City Archaeologist Hindes Scrutinizes Excavations" - San Antonio Express News
  • "Oldest Structure in San Antonio Gets Much Older" - San Antonio Express News
  • Main Plaza Archaeological Investigations (PDF)
  • "Historic Jacales Get Needed Attention" - San Antonio Express News
  • Archeological Associations and Societies

    Click on the links below for information on regional archaeological associations and societies.