Sleeper Site

The Sleeper site (41BC65) sits on a low terrace of West Walnut Creek, a small tributary of the Colorado River, in northern Blanco County. Archeologists from the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation (now TXDOT) conducted excavations there in 1976. Some years later, the site materials were analyzed and reported by LeRoy Johnson. The recovered artifacts date mainly to the later part of the Early Archaic period (roughly 6,000 to 4,000 B.C.) and include milling stones, dart points and blade tools as well as stone tool manufacturing debris (flakes, chips, etc.).

Burned rocks from hot rock cooking were common in the deposits and formed a distinct layer marking the main period of prehistoric site use. Within the rock layer were distinctive clusters of burned rock representing the remains of small circular cooking hearths and somewhat larger and less orderly burned rock accumulations that Johnson called baking heaps. Numerous freshwater mussel (clam) shells and Rabdotus land snail shells were recovered as well as a few fragments of bison and deer bones.

Given the large number of milling stones found at the site (38 metates, 70 manos) and the relative shortage of bison and deer remains, Johnson argued that the prehistoric inhabitants of the Sleeper Site were mainly collecting and processing local plant foods while camped at this site. Due to the proximity of many of these milling tools to baking heap features, he inferred that the milled food was cooked or baked on site. No plant remains were recovered at Sleeper, but Johnson reasoned that grass and herb seeds were probably the main targeted food resource based on the wear patterns found on the milling stones. Johnson interpreted the Sleeper site as a seasonal, short-term occupation locality geared towards the gathering and processing of local plant foods.

References:

Johnson, LeRoy, Jr.
1991 Early Archaic Life at the Sleeper Archaeological Site, 41BC65 of the Texas Hill Country Blanco County, Texas. Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation Highway Design Division, Publications in Archaeology Report No. 39, Austin.

photo of sandstone manos
Sandstone manos (hand stones) used for milling (seed grinding) at the Sleeper site. The smaller,"exhausted" mano on the left is shown in side view; the characteristic wedge-shaped formed by repeated use in the same task, probably milling grass seeds to make flour or meal for baking. The larger mano on the right is less heavily worn and was probably left behind in anticipation of future reuse. TARL archives.
photo of excavations
Composite overhead photograph of 10-x20 strip across the main excavation block at the Sleeper site showing the rock layer and one circular cooking hearth (far right). The form of the hearth (Feature 9) is well preserved in contrast to the more scattered rocks elsewhere. This patterning is typical of many campsites on the Edwards Plateau—repeated cooking with hot rocks left behind lots of scattered debris and dismantled features. TARL archives.
photo of chipped stone tool assemblage
Early Archaic chipped stone tool assemblage (representative group) from the Sleeper Site including a fine bifacial knife (top row, third from right), flake tools (top right) dart points (upper left and middle row), and failed biface fragments (bottom row). As at most campsites, most of the tools are essentially "worn out" and were discarded at the end of their use life or tool fragments (failures) broken during manufacture. TARL archives.