Archaeologists digging into Alamo’s past to find what lies below the surface of a vital part of mission

Six-week excavation underway southwest of the Alamo Church

Digging up the past to move toward the future is the latest step in the Alamo Plaza makeover that is underway. KSAT's RJ Marquez reports archaeologists are learning more about what lies underneath the surface.

SAN ANTONIO – An archaeological dig is underway at the Alamo, and the excavation of part of the plaza started on Thursday.

This is part of a $400 million public-private makeover of Alamo Plaza.

The Alamo Trust, Inc. Archaeology, the City of San Antonio and the Texas Historical Commission are in charge of the dig site southwest of the Alamo Church.

The investigation’s goal is to determine if any portions of the south Mission compound wall remain and to preserve in place those remnants before the construction of the site’s interpretation of the Mission Gate and Lunette.

“Our hope is that there’s something left, something remaining that can help us interpret the site,” said Shawn Marceaux, City of San Antonio archaeologist.

The excavation work is slated to take six weeks as archaeologists work on about 7,500 square feet of land.

The project aims to give visitors an idea of what the front gate looked like centuries ago, where historians say much of the 1836 battle took place.

“A lot of times, people come to the Alamo, and they think the church is just the Alamo, but it’s far larger than that. It was an entire fort and mission,” said Jonathan Huhn, Alamo Trust’s director of communications.

This dig is the first time this part of Alamo Plaza has been unearthed in decades.

“There was previous excavations dug by a UTSA team, and they found what they thought were portions of the south wall,” said Tiffany Lindley, Alamo archaeologist. “What we’re doing is confirming whether or not the portions they found in 1975 still exist, and then using that as a reference point, placing excavation units to find any more remaining wall portions.”

Lindley said crews will dig about four and a half feet below the surface.

“Our goal is not to disturb it, not to remove it. Usually, what we do is we cover it up with something called geofabric, and then we’re going to put some type of protective covering over that sand,” said Lindley.

“It’s important that we get it right. What we’re doing here is trying to understand, as best we can the history of the site,” said Marceaux.

The work will not impact visits to the site. The Alamo will post weekly updates on the work and answer questions about the dig at thealamo.org.


About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.