The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Bryan Zone 4 office recently held Cultural Resources training for 119 NRCS field office and Texas State Soil & Water Conservation Board employees. State Cultural Resources Specialist, Calvin Sanders, conducted the training, which included policy, identifying artifacts and recognizing prehistoric and historic archeological sites. The training was provided to every employee in Zone 4 who is putting conservation on the ground.
ï¿½Cultural resources are non-renewable, providing the basis for understanding our human past,ï¿½ Sanders said. ï¿½Once an archeological site has been destroyed, the information that the site could reveal is lost forever.ï¿½
Employees were taught what to look for and what landscapes are high-probability areas. Employees learned how to recognize lithic flakes, which are fragments broken off from stone, such as chert or flint, quartzite, or petrified wood, as projectile points and other stone tools were knapped or created. These fragments, along with other artifacts, are often brought up to the surface in pocket gopher mounds in sandy East Texas soils. Trainees also were trained in how to identify pottery sherds, or ceramic fragments, that were left by the Woodland and Caddoan peoples. A site visit also turned up some late 17th century Spanish artifacts, including a glass bead which was used by the Europeans for trade with the Native peoples.
Tom Middlebrook, an archaeological steward in Nacogdoches, provided a discussion about the significance of the archaeological site. His enthusiasm was contagious, as employees searched the area to help collect artifacts from the recorded site. Much of the site visited had essentially been destroyed by an oil well pad. The site could have easily been avoided, which is what our employees are taught to do in the training.
Calvin Sanders, state cultural resources specialist, discusses how lithic flakes would have been used as scrapers and other tools by Native peoples.
Tom Middlebrook, an archaeological steward in Nacogdoches, discusses the importance of protecting Cultural Resource sites.
Tom Middlebrook shows fragments of a ceremonial Celt, pottery sherd and glass bead to Cultural Resources trainees.