Stadium builders uncover early Houston artifacts
When Houston decided to construct The Ballpark at Union Station, an open airstadium on the east side of downtown, city officials probably never expected theproject to reveal an abundance of archaeological artifacts. As it turns out, thenew 42,000-seat facility, which will replace the Houston Astrodome, is locatedat “one of the most significant archaeological sites in Texas,” says Mark Dentonof the Texas Historical Commission.
In August 1997, locally based Moore Archaeological Consultants, working for theHarris County-Houston Sports Authority, surveyed the 17-block tract prior toexcavation. The archaeologists then divided the tract into parcels of importanceaccording to historical reference.
All artifacts unearthed during the meticulous excavation were mapped with pointsof origin and photographed at the end of each stratigraphic level before beingcollected and catalogued. A house foundation from one of Houston’s earliestsettlers — bricks laid atop large pieces of stacked wood held together with amortar adhesive — was one of the key discoveries.
In some areas — possibly those where children played — archaeologists found alarge concentration of small figurines, shoes and marbles. Excavators also foundtwo large barrels used to ship ale, “miracle” elixirs, ceramic dishes, largepots and an intact saw. Broken bottles, corn cobs and buttons were among theother miscellaneous finds.
The new stadium will have a case in its entrance to display the culturallysignificant artifacts found during the excavation. And when the Astros take thefield in the spring of 2000, Houston fans may find a greater appreciation forUnion Station’s pre-baseball history.