Excavations at the Alamo Shrine [page 2]
and Anglo-American periods; and there are military artifacts from the famous battle. In addition, the excavations uncovered a section of a palisade ditch which extended between the southwest corner of the church and the old quadrangle, forming a temporary defense during the battle.
The rare opportunity to examine the construction and condition of the historic building foundation has provided valuable structural information. The building will be described from the standpoint of the original architecture, and a study is made of the front facade in its present form along with interpretations of the planned original design. It may come as a surprise to some readers that the building facade currently seen is only the lower portion of a traditional Spanish Early Baroque retable facade, which was to be larger and to. rise several feet higher than the present one; and that the curvilinear-shaped gable crowning the center top of the facade, which is shown in many illustrations depicting the famous battle, was not installed until many years after the battle when the U.S. Army occupied the old structure.
The limited archaeological excavations in front of the Alamo were allowed when the old flagstone paving was removed to prepare for the installation of a newer "Drydan" type of flagstone. This was done by the City of San Antonio as part of the revitalization of Alamo Plaza.
The excavations were confined to the area directly in front of the Alamo Shrine, between the front doorway and the southwest corner. Given the opportunity to investigate an area of Alamo grounds not previously studied, the excavations were, therefore, designed to satisfy two basic needs: (1) the testing and sampling of the soil deposits in the study zone to obtain cultural and ecological materials to better understand past events, and (2) the examination of a section of the old church foundation to record the construction and present condition.
Because of the subsurface disturbance expected during the repaving in front of the Alamo, Curtis Tunnell, State Archeologist, requested that the Center for Archaeological Research conduct the necessary excavations to make a cultural resource assessment.
Permission to excavate on Alamo grounds was generously given by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Legal authorization to excavate at the Alamo, a National Register Historic Site (41 BX 6), was provided under State of Texas Antiquities Permit 139. The archaeological investigations were undertaken in March 1977 by the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, under contract with the City of San Antonio. General supervision of the project was provided by Dr. Thomas R. Hester, Center Director. The fieldwork was carried out by Center staff archaeologists and a number of volunteers under the direction of Jack D. Eaton, Center Associate Director.
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