Excavations at the Alamo Shrine [page 21]
V. The Alamo Shrine Excavations

During March 1977, excavations were conducted in front of the Alamo Shrine by the Center for Archaeological Research under the direction of the author. The excavations had two basic objectives: (1) to examine the old mission church foundation and to record the actual construction and condition of the masonry, and (2) to note the adjacent soil deposits and collect related diagnostic artifacts. Both objectives were accomplished-and provided additional information about Spanish Colonial architecture and subsequent historical events.

Twelve excavation units were dug in the test area, which was located between the building front doorway and the southwest corner (Fig. 3). The excavation units consisted of 1-m2 and 1.5-m2 test pits selectively placed both along the building wall and out from the wall. A shallow, backfilled palisade trench dating to the 1836 battle was also excavated. Testing was confined to the area between the church wall and the old street curb, a width of three meters. This-is the area of the old flagstone sidewalk built in 1889 which was subsequently covered by the ceremonial square built in front of the Shrine in 1934. This zone just in front of the Shrine appears to have been much less disturbed than the area farther out.

Horizontal control of the excavations was maintained in relation to the building wall and southwest corner. Vertical control was related to the pre-excavation paved surface (removed by the City), which was clearly marked on the lower part of the wall and ultimately tied to the top member of the facade lower molding, a reference point (1.40 ft. above primary datum) for the 1975 Alamo Plaza excavations.

The Excavations

In all excavation units, except for those where a pipe trench ran along the front of the building and where the palisade trench extended perpendicular from the wall (Fig. 3), the soil stratigraphy was essentially the same. The pipe trench, which contained an old l-inch iron water pipe, was about 30 to 40 cm wide and varied from around 10 to 40 cm in depth. The trench backfill consisted of mixed materials from at least three or four soil levels. The palisade trench fill, in contrast, was a conglomerate of mixed earth and debris. It appears to have been collected from the ground surface when the palisade was pulled down and the trenches backfilled shortly after the famous battle of 1836.

The excavation units were grouped in two closely related areas along the southern half of the west wall of the building (Fig. 3). The first group, consisting of Units 1, 2, 3, and 5, was located in the zone just to the south of the building's main entrance. Unit 4 and Units 6 to 12 were situated in the area of the southwest corner of the building. Units 4, 6, and 8 were placed against the building wall, and the other units extended out from the wall.

During the excavations in front of Alamo Shrine, several distinctive soil levels were encountered. The upper levels, which contain cultural materials, were deposited during the long history of site occupation. The underlying soil levels,

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