On October 15, 2015, the Texas General Land Office, City of San Antonio and the Alamo Endowment formed a partnership to manage the development of a new master plan for the Alamo. The purpose is to reimagine the Alamo by creating an interpretation of the site that honors the true footprint, history and significance of the Alamo over its nearly 300-year history, first as a Spanish mission and later as the Cradle of Texas History. There has never been a systematic archaeology study of the entire Alamo site to determine, with as much certainty as possible, the location of the walls and other structures. In order to develop a plan with integrity, based on evidence going back to 1724, the master planners believe such a study is necessary. This archaeology work, as well as a complete timeline of the history of the site, will inform the decisions made as to where buildings such as a new visitor center and museum are built and the content of educational programming.
The Alamo Master Plan is a cooperative effort by the Texas General Land Office, the City of San Antonio and the Alamo Endowment. The three agencies hired Preservation Design Partnership (PDP) to work in partnership with Fisher Heck Architects to guide the development of the master plan. PDP hired a group of consultants including preservation planners, architects, archaeologists, historians, landscape architects, structural engineers and civil engineers that are all experts in their respective fields to assist in the development of the master plan.
The archaeology work will be led by Dr. Nesta Anderson of Pape-Dawson Engineers. Dr. Anderson will lead a team of experts with specific experience at the Alamo, the missions, Main Plaza, and other important sites throughout the San Antonio area. In addition, Dr. Steve Tomka, Dr. Shawn Marceaux and Dr. Mary Jo Galindo will provide their leadership and expertise throughout the project.
Archaeologists expect to find remnants of the original adobe, jacal and stone walls that formed the structures and walls built at the site of the Mission San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo). We also expect to find artifacts associated with the mission period occupation (A.D. 1700-1793) such as food refuse, ceramic and stoneware fragments from plates and bowls and other utensils, glass from various containers such as bottles, metal, chipped stone and personal or clothing items. In addition, we may find features related to the fortification of the Alamo during the military period of occupation (A.D. 1806-1877), including those constructed during the Siege of Bexar and the Battle of the Alamo. Artifacts from this period may include household or military items. We may also find features relating to the Acequia del Alamo.
We anticipate approximately four weeks of field work, followed by several more weeks in the laboratory where the artifacts must be cleaned, sorted, categorized and analyzed.
All findings are documented through various field techniques such as detailed drawings and photographs. Features will be preserved and artifacts will be placed in bags that are labeled according to where they are found. They will then be taken to the field lab where they will be cleaned and sorted and later delivered to a permanent curation lab to undergo additional work and analysis. All artifacts found on public lands belong to all the people of Texas and are held in trust by the Texas Historical Commission at a certified repository.
The archaeologists are required to comply with the highest ethical and moral standards as well as legal requirements that are laid out by the Texas Health and Safety Code. Archaeologists are required to treat all human remains with dignity and respect which includes minimizing any disturbance to discovered remains. A human remains protocol is in place for the project that will be strictly adhered to by the professional team of archaeologists and all project personnel.