|17 October 2003
Prehistoric campgrounds found in Texas
University researchers are completing archaeological work at Natural Bridge Caverns (near San Antonio,Texas USA) after finding signs of prehistoric campgrounds and a dart point that may be up to 6,000 years old. Twenty days of excavation by archaeology students from the University of Texas at San Antonio have uncovered its oldest artifact - a Nolan dart point - outside the caverns' entrance and about two yards below the surface. Radiocarbon testing of nearby charcoal remains that could be even older will take about 30 days, said Steve Tomka, director of the Center for Archaeological Research at UTSA.
The family that owns the commercial cave approached Tomka in June and funded the excavation. Artifacts found in the dig will be analyzed by UTSA graduate students, then returned to the caverns. The cache of man-made tools and debris samples from fires that burned thousands of years ago was expected to land the caverns in the National Register of Historic Places, a designation that could help preserve the historic treasures in and around the area.
Items tracing a long pattern of habitation by human hunter-gatherers have been recovered from the caverns for the first time. Artifacts unearthed during the dig indicated considerable use of the caverns from 2,000 to 4,000 years ago, with decreased use for about 1,000 years before that period and 500 years afterward. The caverns, discovered in 1960 by four St. Mary's University students, have been declared a state historic site and a national natural landmark.
Source: Houston Chronicle (14 October 2004)
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