Archaeologists make 'exciting' discovery in Alamo dig

Archaeologists digging at the Alamo have discovered an adobe wall that may provide clues to the famous site’s Spanish Colonial history.

The wall, which is about 23 inches below the flagstone surface of San Antonio's Alamo Plaza, was discovered July 22 near where historians think the west wall of the complex was built. Experts are working to locate the compound’s original walls.

The location of the famous battle of the Alamo in 1836, the site was first established as a Spanish mission in 1744.

“Last week we very excited to discover we found the remnants of an old adobe brick wall,” explained Nesta Anderson, the dig’s lead investigator and senior archaeologist at Pape-Dawson Engineers, in a press conference Monday. “In the ground, we can see clearly, bricks stacked next to each other, they are made of adobe, so they are very fragile.”


The adobe is a type of material traditionally associated with Spanish Colonial structures in the area, according to experts.

At this stage, however, it is not clear whether the bricks are from the Alamo’s west wall or from another structure on the UNESCO World Heritage site. While the bricks may be from an outer wall of the compound, they may also be from the rooms where Native Americans lived outside the wall, Anderson said.

“We have still got a little bit to determine whether it’s an interior or an exterior wall – because we now have some evidence we really want to focus on chasing that evidence out,” she explained. “We will look to archival research, as well as altering, possibly, our digging – because we have got something from the Spanish Colonial period we know we’re digging in the right place at the right time.”

The three-to-four-week dig, which may encompass three locations in Alamo Plaza, began July 20 as part of ‘Reimagine the Alamo’, a project to develop a new master plan for the site and its surrounding area.

Initially, archaeologists had a tough time identifying the adobe wall, which is located just south of the Crockett building on Alamo St. “We’re not talking about solid bricks, just to be clear, this is almost a soil stain, if you will,” Anderson explained. “It’s a difference in color in the soil – these bricks are made of mud, so they are very sensitive to weather.”

Nonetheless, the bricks could offer vital clues to the Alamo’s history. “Depending on how many courses of brick, they might tell us a bit about the architecture that was used,” Anderson said.

The archaeologist told that there is plenty left to discover at the Alamo site. "We don't know as much as we thought we did from an archaeological perspective," she said. "There have been archaeological digs at the site from the 70s onwards, but they have just been snapshots."

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