Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000 Page: 19
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Fort St. Louis Archeological Project, represented
the first opportunity for archeologists
to investigate the site since preliminary
work there in 1950 by the Texas
The latest round of excavations began
in October 1999 and will continue
through April 2001. The investigation is
a public-private venture with a budget of
more than $1.7 million. The Texas Legislature
allocated $250,000 to the effort, the
THC dedicated another $250,000 of
agency funds, and the remainder was
raised from individuals, corporations, and
foundations in Texas.
The project has already been a tremendous
archeological success in terms of defining
the French, Spanish, and
Karankawa occupations at the site. Much
more is expected to be uncovered during
the next several months.
The locations of two of La Salle's buildings
have already been identified through
the excavation of two large areas where
about 90 percent of diagnostic archeological
materials were French in derivation
(the remainder being small numbers of
Spanish and Indian items). Dozens of
hand-forged iron nails and spikes revealed
to the archeologists the last architectural
remnants of the buildings that had been
burned in 1690 by the second Spanish expedition
to the site.
Associated with the nails, archeologists
found a wide variety of other artifacts, including
five types of French ceramics:
Beauvasis, Faience Blanche, Nevers
Faience, Saintonge, and an unnamed greenand-brown
glazed ware. Also important in
identifying the French presence were thin,
green glass fragments from panel bottles,
numerous French-style spall gunflints (some
made from the same flint that was used as
ballast in the hold of La Belle), and French
coins. Other remains recovered from this
area were two animal bone concentrations
that represent remains from the colonists'
meals, as well as other artifacts related to
domestic activities in and around the struc
School children tour the THC's Public
Archeology Laboratory in Victoria, where
they learn about conserving artifacts,
Texas history, and the Fort St. Louis
tures. Based on evidence from earlier test
excavations and on magnetometer data,
the location of another possible French
building will soon be explored.
A magnetometer is a remote-sensing
device that detects and plots the location
of iron artifacts below ground. The instrument
now being used at Fort St. Louis is a
cesium magnetometer so sensitive that it
can identify an anomaly that has one-millionth
of the magnetic force required to
move a compass needle.
The survey of the site with this instrument
revealed to THC archeologists early
in the investigation a "footprint" of the
Spanish presidio that overlay the earlier
French occupation. The magnetometer
produced a map that reconciled remarkably
well with a Spanish map of the
presidio, which showed a central, circular
parade ground surrounded by officers' and
soldiers' quarters and a church. Preliminary
test excavations around this ring of buildings
have encountered extremely rich deposits
of Spanish Colonial domestic materials.
Though not shown on the historic map,
an adobe structure was located in the cen
HERITAGE * 19 * FALL 2000
Have your next meeting at the Ant Street Inn
The greatest little historic hotel halfway between Austin and Houston!
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000, periodical, Autumn 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45391/m1/19/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.