TYLER – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announced Tuesday the discovery of archeological sites along the US 175 Expansion project in Anderson and Henderson counties that contains artifacts dating back to the 1400s. The findings suggest that the locations could have been a temporary Native American settlement.
The US 175 Expansion has been in the planning stages for years and is a top priority for TxDOT in an effort to improve the safety and mobility of the roadway. It includes three separate projects covering 13.8 miles from Baxter to Frankston and is designed to widen the roadway from two lanes to four-lane divided with a depressed median.
TxDOT has hired a consulting firm that specializes in cultural resources which investigated and found at least three sites along US 175 that could have been small farmsteads or settlements of the native people who lived in this area from the 1400s up to 1650. Artifacts such as pieces of ceramic vessels, stone tools, and more have been found at these sites and will be researched and then curated at one of the state's facilities. The data will be compiled into a report once the field activities conclude.
Archeologists are working under the guidance of the National Historic Preservation Act which prescribes how to address historic and archeological sites during the planning of transportation projects.
“Our teams are working carefully to excavate these areas in order to reduce the impact of the highway project on the heritage of the tribal community and the state of Texas,” said Kathi White, TxDOT Public Information Officer. “Construction can still occur on other segments of the highway while the investigation continues at the protected locations.”
These settlements are not uncommon findings for TxDOT. Over the years, other sites have been found during the environmental studies process that all transportation projects must go through prior to construction. Previous studies, which determine the impacts a project may have on history, heritage, culture and natural environments, have revealed ceramic and lithic artifacts, tools and other items.
The recently discovered sites have 24-hour security while the investigation continues. It is against the law to trespass on these sites.