Launched in 2009, Ancient Southwest Texas (ASWT) is a long-term research program aimed at furthering the archaeological understanding of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of southwest Texas.  Dr. Stephen L. Black, assistant professor of anthropology at Texas State University is the ASWT principal investigator.  Numerous graduate and undergraduate students from Texas State have taken part in ASWT research; in fact, one of the main objectives of the program is to give students hands-on archaeological experience.  A key element of archaeological experience is working with and learning from collaborating scientists, landowners, and volunteers, many of whom have taken part in ASWT research.

The current phase of investigation is centered on Eagle Nest Canyon (ENC). ENC is a tributary of the Rio Grande entering on the north side of the river just downstream from Langtry, Texas. This canyon and its surrounding upland edge contains numerous sites ranging from dry rockshelters to burned rock middens to upland “hearth” fields, but excavations here and elsewhere in the Lower Pecos have focused on the rockshelters. The Expedition has three overarching research goals: 1) understand the human and natural history of the canyon; 2) share what we learn; and 3), conserve the archaeological record for future generations. This blog will further our second goal.

The Lower Pecos Canyonlands region of southwest Texas and northern Mexico is known for its dry rockshelters and caves, which prehistoric peoples used for millennia as witnessed by vivid pictographs and thick deposits of well-preserved habitation debris ranging from basketry and sandals, to food remains and coprolites. Because of the superb preservation within dry rockshelters, much of the archaeological focus has been on these uncommon features.  While the dry shelters within the Lower Pecos hold great research promise, comparatively little of this potential has been delivered despite 75 years of intermittent work.  No dry shelter has been both well excavated and fully reported.  Few of today’s state-of-the-art research methods have been applied to shelter archaeology in the Lower Pecos, yet the complexly and deeply stratified deposits and fantastic preservation of perishable materials demand such methods. We aim to improve on this score.

The 2014 Eagle Nest Canyon Expedition was led by  Dr. Steve Black and Charles Koenig of Texas State University.  The core research team included Tina Nielsen, Jacob Sullivan, Brooke Bonorden, and Bryan Heisinger.  We were joined by our colleagues Jeremy Freeman and Vicky Munoz from SHUMLA Archaeological Research and Education Center as well as volunteers.  The ENC research is a highly collaborative endeavor and involves many colleagues, partners, and the landowners — see  Expedition Collaborators.  The 2014 field session ran for 6 months until June 30th, and built on the work completed during the 2013 Lower Pecos Canyonlands Archaeological Field School as well as the Master’s projects of Texas State graduate students Dan Rodriguez (Kelley Cave and Skiles Shelter) and Matt Basham (Canyon Edge earth oven features).

The 2015 Eagle Nest Canyon Expedition will be primarily focused in Eagle Cave. Dr. Black and Charles Koenig are rejoined by previous intern Bryan Heisinger, and three new interns: Emily McCuistion, Victoria Pagano, and Matt “Larsen” Larsen. ASWT is looking forward to another great field season in Eagle Nest Canyon!

We invite you to follow our unfolding investigations!

5 thoughts on “About

  1. I’m an archaeologist with a few years of experience. Let me know if I can help out on this project. I grew up in Ozona, have a ranch in Central Texas, and have a few months free.

    • i have a place you can dig very large encampment here where i live would love to get a little expert advice on it i have found alot of interesting things but unfortunately people have destroyed so much of what was here ( in the name of progress) makes me sick at my stomach to think about the loss , but i believe there is enough left to make it worthwhile to research

  2. Love the headline photo! The lonely watermill is still outlined against the sky on the opposite canyon top. It’s just as I remember it from the 80s.

  3. I’d like to use the trench profile photo in The Developing Tales of Sayles Adobe
    By Victoria Pagano in an academic article I’m writing in the field of technical communication. (I’m using the idea of stratigraphy as a metaphor.) Who can I contact for permission? Thanks! Lora Arduser, University of Cincinnati

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