Archaeological dig at Alamo underway

Project to help preserve long barracks, church

Archaeology teams are digging through the past at the Alamo in an effort to preserve the site's future.

SAN ANTONIO – Archaeology teams are digging through the past at the Alamo in an effort to preserve the site's future.

The long barracks and church are the focus of a project to determine the condition of the aging buildings and the best way to preserve them. Excavations are already underway at the long barracks, and the Alamo archaeologist Kristi Miller-Nichols said the team hopes to begin in the church next week.

"We want to see what the stones look like, and really, the goal is to go deep enough to where we see where the stones are sitting on top of dirt. That is where the historic architects want to stop," Miller-Nichols said.

The length of the project will depend on what they find. The excavation is a meticulous process involving copious note-taking, and it doesn't end when the soil is out, either.

The historic architects want to put sensors into the ground to monitor groundwater movement and help determine what's going on with the rising damp, Miller-Nichols said. To help that process, archaeologists have been bagging and tagging the removed soil by depth.

Once they are finished, archaeologists will return the soil to the same depth from which it came, something Miller-Nichols said is unique to the project.

Beyond that, Miller-Nichols said they'll return it to "the same compaction, even, and they're trying to get the same moisture content so it matches as much the soil around it so those immediate first readings from the sensors are going to be as accurate as possible."

While preservation is the primary focus of the project, the discoveries archaeologists might make as they dig are appealing, too.

"This is the first time there is an actual, formalized archaeological project happening inside of the long barracks, and it's going to tell us a lot of information we don't know yet," Miller-Nichols said.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.