By Pat Mercado-Allinger, Archeology Division Director and State Archeologist
The Houston Archeological Society (HAS) has been collaborating with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for several months to aid in the screening of sediments stripped from the Dimond Knoll site. The site was located within the path of a new segment of State Highway 99 in Harris County. Extensive archeological investigations were undertaken in advance of construction. This work revealed deeply buried cultural deposits that warranted further examination. To accomplish this, the overlying sediments were carefully removed by machine. In lieu of discarding the stripped soil, the decision was made to move it to an off-site location for screening by HAS volunteers under the direction of TxDOT Archeologist Dr. Jason Barrett.
The volume of sediments is substantial, but that hasn’t deterred HAS members from the task; they have been diligently screening nearly every weekend for several months, retrieving a considerable amount of archeological data about the site. Numerous public outreach opportunities have also come from this arrangement. Such events have often represented the first field experience for individuals of all ages, including some Houston-area undergraduate students majoring in Anthropology and Archeology.
Another public archeology event on August 17 involved THC staff and 34 members of the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS). The timing was fortuitous since THC Archeologist Jeff Durst and I had other business to attend to in Houston in mid-August. So we literally “rolled up our sleeves” and helped HAS members and representatives from TxDOT and a local archeological consulting firm to guide HMNS guests through the screening process and identify the artifacts revealed.
Additional attractions at this special event included a display of artifacts retrieved from the Dimond Knoll site, as well as flintknapping and spear-throwing demonstrations.
The Dimond Knoll site screening project is ongoing. For information about this and other HAS activities, check out their website.
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