Patterns on the Landscape of the Dan A. Hughes Unit, Devils River State Natural Area, Val Verde County, Texas
Author(s): Margaret Howard
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) Archeology Survey Team conducted four phases of archeological investigations on the Dan A. Hughes Unit of Devils River State Natural Area and adjoining areas of Amistad National Recreation Area from 2010 through 2014. Investigations on 6,949.7 acres of the Hughes Unit were conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit 5893; investigations on 99.3 acres of Amistad National Recreation Area were authorized by National Park Service Scientific Research and Collecting Permits AMIS-2011-SCI-0005, AMIS-2012-SCI-0001, AMIS-2013-SCI-0001, and AMIS-2014-SCI-0004.
In November 2010, the TPWD Archeology Survey Team made a preliminary archeological assessment of 13 of the sites that had been recorded on the property that was purchased by TPWD in December of that year. In March through July of 2011, the Team intensively surveyed 515.7 acres slated for development and use in preliminary plans for the Hughes Unit. The Texas Archeological Society Field School was held on the unit in June of 2012; the primary effort was a reconnaissance survey of high-probability areas covering 6,206 acres in 14 survey sectors. Test units were excavated in burned rock middens on sites 41VV48, 41VV837, 41VV838, and 41VV1012, which are in or near areas slated for development or use. Historic site 41VV2109 was intensively surveyed and shovel tested. Rock imagery at 41VV337 was recorded, and uncontrolled excavations in that rockshelter were backfilled. In December 2012 and the spring of 2013 and 2014, TPWD archeologists recorded the archeological sites that had been discovered in 2012, and rerecorded the sites that had been recorded on the Hughes Unit prior to 2010.
A total of 143 archeological sites are now recorded on and adjacent to the Hughes Unit of Devils River State Natural Area. Fifty-eight of them were found during surveys conducted between 1957 and 1993, and 85 were recorded by TPWD archeologists between 2011 and 2014. During the current investigations, the records for 57 of the previously recorded sites were updated; site 41VV686 was not relocated, and is suspected to have been misplotted. The vast majority of the 142 known sites (n = 130, 92 percent) are located entirely on the Hughes Unit. Four sites are crossed by the common boundary of Amistad National Recreation Area and the Hughes Unit, and include both federal and state land. Eight sites are entirely on federal land in Amistad National Recreation Area.
The 142 sites include rockshelters, rock imagery sites, burned rock middens, open campsites, lithic scatters, lithic procurement sites, and historic sites; 43 of the sites (30 percent) fall into two or more of these categories. Named rock imagery sites are Crab Shelter (41VV50), Sunburst Shelter (41VV840), Quintero Shelter (41VV950), and Chimenea Shelter (41VV961). Occupation of the Hughes Unit extended from the Paleoindian period into historic times. Using a cultural landscape approach to interpret the spatial and temporal variability of the material traces of these occupations, prehistoric settlement patterns, population density, subsistence, and ritual practices are examined.
Recommendations are provided on the merit of the 142 archeological sites on and near the Hughes Unit for official designation. Of the 130 sites that are entirely on state land, it is recommended that 72 sites (55 percent) appear to merit official State Antiquities Landmark designation, while 40 sites (28 percent) do not appear to merit official Landmark designation. The merit of 18 sites on state land (13 percent) for official Landmark designation is undetermined because they have not been tested sufficiently to ascertain their research potential or integrity.
Of the eight sites that are entirely on federal land, it is recommended that six meet the criteria for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The merit of the two other sites on federal land for inclusion in the National Register is undetermined because they have not been tested sufficiently to ascertain their research potential or integrity. The four sites that include both state and federal land merit official State Antiquities Landmark designation; two also meet the criteria for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and two do not.
This report includes a plan for management and protection of the significant archeological sites and features on the Hughes Unit of Devils River State Natural Area, and adjoining areas of Amistad National Recreation Area. Recommendations are made for future investigations and interpretation on the unit. The artifacts and records from these investigations are curated at the TPWD Archeology Laboratory in Austin.
Cite this Record
Patterns on the Landscape of the Dan A. Hughes Unit, Devils River State Natural Area, Val Verde County, Texas. Margaret Howard. 2016 ( tDAR id: 447007) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8447007
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