Heritage, Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 1992 Page: 17
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Dr. Karl Reinhard of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln discusses excavation strategy with his archaeology students at 41 VV 103. Note the spoil heaps that appear
in the background of the photograph, the result of previous looting episodes during the years. Photo by Jeff Huebner.
most frequently caught fish. Water-adapted
mammals including raccoon, beaver, and
otter were hunted along the river banks as
were turtles, frogs, and ducks.
Mixed in with the food remains at
these and other sites in the region was the
technology of the harvest. The same
conditions that helped to preserve abundant
animal and plant evidence also preserved
many artifacts of wood and cordage.
In most archaeological sites in Texas only
stone tools, or lithics, are recovered. Stone
dart and arrow points in the Lower Pecos
have been found in association with the
wooden components of the projectile
launch system: a stone dart point, hafted
into a short wooden foreshaft, inserted
into the longer main shaft. This composite
dart, modified at the butt to accept the
hood from the atlatl, or throwing stick,
could be thrown with good accuracy up to
50 yards. With the introduction of the
bow and arrow to the region approximately
1,000 years ago, a smaller version of the
same composite projectile was adopted to
match the bow. Stone tools, bifacial
knives, scrapers, and gouges, were knapped
out of local cherts. Nets made from twisted
plant fiber could be used to catch fish and
small game. Composite and simple snares
constructed from cordage and wood, and
multi-purpose wooden "rabbit sticks,"
similar to clubs, round out the hunting
Gathering technology included a small
number of necessary items. Most important
was the digging stick, a hardwood shaft
sharpened to a chisel point formed a general
purpose tool for knocking fruit from
trees or prying lechuguilla and sotol bulbs
from the ground. Baskets for carrying all
manners of gathered food were made from
plaited or coiled sotol and lechuguilla fibers.
Knives made on large chert flakes,
hafted into wood handles were important
tools both in the gathering and processing
of plant foods.
Earth ovens were used to cook the soccer
ball-size bulbs of lechuguilla and sotol.
To construct one of these, a pit was excavated
with a digging stick and lined with
slabs of limestone. After a fire was built and
allowed to die down to coals, it was capped
by another layer of limestone slabs. The
bulbs and other plants to be cooked were
set on top of these slabs and covered with a
layer of plant debris, and the oven was
sealed with dirt. Experiments have shown
that these ovens will hold heat for up to two
days. Many other foods did not require such
elaborate preparation. Cactus flowers,
prickly pear tunas, nuts, and berries were
eaten raw. Based on evidence from coprolites,
it appears that insects, reptiles, and
HERITAGE * SPRING 1992 17
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 1992, periodical, Spring 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45420/m1/17/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.