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I have two questions: I found a large cave (near georgetown) and what I think is a mound outside the cave. Will I be wasting my time by digging/looking inside the cave? Also, the mound is full of white limestone rocks loosly piled under about 2 inches of dirt and some are exposed and some are buried about a foot or so. Do some mounds consist of jagged limestone rocks? They dont look burnt. Thanks!
Hello Jeff, Aside from an Archeological background, I am a well known Karst Geologist/ Speleologist meaning that I specialize with caves, research, and cave sciences. The official cave count in Williamson County is now 776, of which 388 of them are ones that were discovered and documented by my company since 1988. So I feel I can answer your questions well, but may need a little better description of what you are reffering to as a Cave. Most of the true caves in the Georgetown area are entered through vertical sinkholes, and a great many are gated at this point (I built them!). Is the cave in question a cave like I have described, or is it a rock shelter along a creek, river, or drainageway? I do know of several caves and rock shelters both that have middens at or very near entrances. I gather you'd like to know if the cave or rock shelter was occupied. The best means is to put in test holes (with permission of course), and note the contents of the flooring stratum for carbon ash, snail and mussell shells, fragmented limestone rock/ cobbles, charcoal remnants and of course flint flakes and shards of which show up quickly when the soil matrix is sifted. Use pretty much the same process for the midden near the cave. Also look for matate grinding pots at or around the cave entrance, as if you find one, it's a sure sign of occupation. Ocupation in rock shelters was much more perdominant than at caves with vertical sinkhole entrances. It was noted in WW Newcombs book...The indians of Texas...that the cultures believed that evil spirits lived in such places, and generally would not enter them, however many such small hole entrances were used for unorthodox burials, and the indians often hung around such entrances waiting for a ground mammal meal to emerge. Hope this helps, and good luck.
An underground cave or a rock shelter cave? How big is a large cave? By all means dig in front of it,if the rocks don't looked burnt it could have fallen off from above.More than likely the floor inside is limestone, and not very deep. I have been lucky enough to have explored the San Gabriel,and Berry creek in G'town where I found a true serpent mound.I don't have a degree but 30 years of experience hunting for artifacts have taught me to look above also for more sites.
RY, Jeff's questions were very general with only so much information, However, I can be very specific on what the qualifying requirements are for cave classification in the state of texas, as I have posted it before on this site. The flooring may return to limestone with depth, as it depends on levels of invading natural fill materials and presence of occupational stratum, of which can be deep. The site above aspect holds very true, especially in Travis County where there are deeper canyons along the edwards plateau margins that drain to the lakes. There is a distinctive pattern of occupational site at the canyon bottoms, and usually very close to perennial springs. Then directly above, and often at the head of a canyon a second midden of which is usually smaller. All of the upper ones I have test dug in had much burnt fragmented limestone rock, were shallow, and had few points. It turned out that the explanation for this is that the upper sites were sentry posts for the protection of the main encampments below. The San Gabriel (both forks) are are very culture rich areas, as well as Berry Creek, however Cowan Creek actually has the Larger sites(now of which many are buried beneath golf fairways.
The cave opening is large enough to walk into and opens up into a large room about 20x20x10. The floor of the cave can be dug in some places and its rocky in other places (near the entrance). I found some chips in the mound near the entrance but I still cant tell if its a midden or if someone excavated rock from the cave and just piled it up near the opeing for some reason. The rocks range from golf ball size to about 10" in size and are covered with dirt inside the mound and some are exposed. If it is a midden should I look within the mound/rocks or around/adjacent to it? Im new at this
Jeff, I just copied and pasted this from a previous post from Mike.
The following is for anyone who does not know what the qualifying standards for caves vs. rock shelters in the state of Texas (each state differs). This standard is set by the Texas Speleological Survey. A karst feature (potential cave) must be at least 5 meters (about 17 feet)or greater in length. The length can be horizontal, vertical, or a combination thereof. This does not qualify if the width exceeds the length, thus a rock shelter that has an entrance width of say 100 feet, but length (front to back) is only 50', remains classified as a rock shelter, and not an actual cave. A rock shelter 50' wide, but 100' in length may be classified as an actual cave. In review, I found these statistics intresting an thought I'd share them. Texas indians used both caves and rock shelters (mostly rock shelters). Caves with sharp vertical entrances were generally not inhabited, however, many were used for unorthodox style burials. I have found points in small vertical sinkholes while atempting to open new caves. All this evidences is that ground mammals inhabited them, and occasionally, it was a good place for the hungry indian to nab a meal.
Thanks DJ, I was going to repost the same for RY, but it was late last night.
Jeff, Is the walk in size entrance down within a sinkhole depression from the surrounding terrain surface? One thing I did forget to mention is that there are many caves that were excavated in by treasure hunters during the very early 1900's, leaving behind large piles of tailings. The mound description thus far is beginning to not sound like midden material, but if there is a suitable spot in the floor at or near the drip line of the roof, try a small test hole about a foot deep and see what you come up with. If you get an increase in flint flakes and schards, you might be on to something worth while.
It is also possible that an old path into the entrance could have been cleared by ranchers in the past (accounting for the mound) to use the cave like a natural coral/ shelter for livestock during harsh weather conditions. I've seen this done also.
Mound or Cave, the most reliable thing you can do is put in test holes to see what you have, and to your own satisfaction! Good Luck!