West Texas Archaeological Dig

April, 2006 - West of Matador in Motley County

Published Feb 12th 2015 in History & People, Archaeology, History

Read the accompanying essay describing this dig, which was actually a field trip for eighth graders from Andrews, Texas.

The headwaters of the Pease River is rugged ranch country – cedar covered steep slopes, hidden creeks and springs, hidden groves of big walnut trees and big cottonwood trees. In the foreground are the pink blossoms of feather dalea and mimosa catclaw.

Near the camp of the students is a pleasant and scenic creek. A chilly northwind accompanied by scudding low clouds kept the leaders of the trip worried about a violent thunderstorm.

Just below the archaeological site is the bosque or motte (both words mean a grove of trees). A good part of the year pools of water (seeps or springs) are found along the quarter-mile long grove, and is the source for the stream at the camp. The stream only runs during the cooler months of the year.

It is a dirty job – the students and adults sprawled, sat, knelt, and reclined to carefully excavate the grid pits.

The grid pits were 3 feet square, straight-sided, and most of the artifacts were coming from 12 to 25 inches down. Artifacts were left in place until carefully measured and plotted on paper, then cleaned and stored in plastic bags.

The set up for the official photo of the pit "better than professional."

The girls in front are Danielle and Erica – while working on the pit in the previous photos.

Serious work performed admirably by 8th grade students – what a wonderful program!

When given a chance for real scientific exploration and a camping trip to a wild country, kids are on their best behavior, and rise to the occasion in admirable fashion.

Another pit revealed this collection of stone and rock. Was it a grill where meat was cooked on hot rocks, or was it a waste pile of rocks used in cooking? Baskets and hides full of soup were cooked by dropping heated rocks into the liquid.

Every bit of dirt in the grid pits was sifted in one of two shaker trays – and arrowheads, small bones, and pieces of pottery were often revealed there.