Archaeologists are digging through the summer heat to complete a major project at the Alamo for preservation efforts — and the occasional discovery of artifacts.
The Alamo Archaeologist and a team of other archaeologists from the San Antonio-based engineering firm Raba-Kistner began the project in July and plan to continue through at least September, according to Kevin Finnell, content and media specialist for the Alamo Trust.
They are digging now and will eventually reach 18 spots between the walls and floor of the Long Barrack and the Church soon.
The old stone floor had to be removed first in some areas, so they can dig into the original dirt floors. Among the interesting finds so far include: musket balls, an old key, buttons, a hand-blown glass bottle and a cow’s tooth.
Raba-Kistner employee Kat Jenkins said they've found other artifacts, too.
“Construction materials, like brick and mortar. Some metal fragments and some ceramics,” she said.
Alamo Archaeologist Kristi Nichols said the Long Barrack is part of the old mission and has been around since 1724, and served more than one purpose during its history.
“What we’re really seeing is this historic period where the mission is being constructed,” she said. “It’s being used as a fort after the Mission Period, it’s being used a quartermaster depot, a Civil War location, and even after the military occupation it turns into a mercantile store.”
Nichols said its occupants through time probably did their best sweeping up the dirt floors, but as most do with their own housekeeping, missed a few spots.
“We try to pick things up and sweep and do all that stuff, which they did too,” she said. “But if you imagine sweeping around little bits, it eventually gets impacted, or you know, compacted into the floor and so those things are hidden in there and that might be the reason we are getting things, like little buttons and that as well because it’s things that fell, small things that fell.”
Nichols said the digging along the walls will help them learn more about the construction techniques used at the time. They will replicate those same techniques for preservation efforts at the Alamo.
Alamo officials hope they can one day display the items found during the dig.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story listed the incorrect year for the Long Barrack. It has existed since 1724.