Heritage, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 1988 Page: 12
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By Carolyn Fasel
Because there is so much to do,
archaeologists are often working in
emergency situations, excavating
among the foundations of office
buildings and in advance of
bulldozers digging up new roads.
TEXAS ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH LAB
T he human history of Texas spans
over 12,000 years. During this long
period of time, Texas has been home to
over 800 generations of American Indians.
That period witnessed repeated cycles of
birth and death, war and peace, scarcity
and plenty, now revealed in ancient village
sites. The archaeological evidence indicates
that, like modern humans, these
Indian men and women loved and cared for
their children, and as partners were concerned
with providing food, shelter, and
perhaps a few toys and extra comforts. As
community members, people worked and
played together, providing one another
support, protection and companionship.
They performed rituals to help themselves
through some of the difficult and momentous
passages of life.
Such an awareness and linkage with the
past is just one of the gifts of archaeology.
Ask people who are interested in history
and archaeology what they get out of it, and
you will hear of other gifts:
"I admire and appreciate beauty and the
people who produced it wherever I find it."
"Knowing the past gives me one more
piece to the puzzle of the meaning of life."
"If we understand the trends and mistakes
of the past, maybe we can plan better
for the future."
"I came here from somewhere else, and
learning to understand the history of this
place and its people have helped me to fit
in, to adapt to a new environment."
"It's just fun-it satisfies my deep curiosity
to know how things began, and how it
was for other people in other times, especially
right here in Texas where I live now."
These answers reflect questions archaeologists
ask as they seek to reconstruct the
lifeways and environment of a people.
Above: View of a looted Caddoan gravesite with
several burial items that have been replaced by State
Top Right: Photographer Bob Parvin took this shot
of a pothunter in the process of uncovering artifacts.
Bottom Left: Archaeologists dig by hand, watching
for changes in soil coloration.
Bottom Right: Holly Fine engraved bottles were
fired in a reduced atmosphere to blacken the surface.
They want to understand:
Settlement patterns-why did the Indians
go where they did?
Human adaptation to human environments-what
causes cultural changes
Subsistence patterns-how did people
find enough to eat and materials for
clothing, shelter and protection? How did
men and women each contribute to these
important tasks? Did women simply cook
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 1988, periodical, 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45436/m1/12/: accessed November 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.