| 8 April 2009
Archaeologists search for clues of ancient Texans
Archeologists are slowly digging for buried treasure on the old Zilker Park rugby fields in Austin (Texas, USA) - and they are welcoming the public to join in. The treasure is not literal gold or jewels but is treasure in the sense of the insight it could offer into what was happening on the land thousands of years ago. "The value of archeology is really in information. It's what we can learn about what people were doing here in Central Texas, in Austin, 10,000 years ago," said Nick Trierweiler, cultural resources program director for Ecological Communications Corp., which is overseeing the project.
The dig is looking for artifacts from the Paleoindian Era, which lasted from about 11,500 years BCE to about 8,200 years BCE. The artifacts are believed to be the oldest deposits in Austin. Archeologists began by digging a 20 by 20 foot hole 10 feet deep. They're now slowly digging 6 feet deeper - about 6 inches at a time. Each bucket of dirt is taken out of the hole and carefully sifted for artifacts by archeologists.
Zilker Park is filled with artifacts from native Americans who lived, camped and hunted in the area along the Colorado River, but random core borings showed the rugby fields likely offered the oldest and most valuable finds. "Actually, the reason the site has been preserved is because the Colorado River occasionally floods, and it will deposit loads of sediment and it just buries each archeological site, so it's sort of like a layer cake," Trierweiler said. "As we dig down deeper, though the flood deposits of the Colorado River and from Barton Springs, or from Barton Creek, we get deeper and deeper and deeper and find things that have been preserved."
The public is invited to help sift through the first 10 feet of dirt, which could contain artifacts from 6,000 to 10,000 years old. No training is required, but preregistration is. Go to archeologyatzilker.com to sign up. A special viewing platform is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the next six weeks.
Source: KVUE (6 April 2009)
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