Natural and Cultural Context
In this section, Natural and Cultural Context, we describe the natural setting of the site, give a brief overview of prehistoric and historic cultures in Central Texas, and present the history of investigations at Zatopec.
It is important for archaeologists to consider the natural setting of an archaeological site, as humans throughout time respond to changes in environment and climate and how these changes affect available natural resources. The natural setting not only aids in interpreting artifact assemblages, it can also be useful in understanding what has happened to some artifacts from the time they are discarded and abandoned until the moment they are discovered, thousands of years later in some cases.
A review of what is known about Central Texas' cultural history is useful in providing some basic information about peoples' behavior during periods of time in the past. This kind of essential information provides a context that helps archaeologists know what they might expect at a site and allows them to make new and useful contributions to the understanding of prehistoric people in central Texas.
Finally, knowledge of previous investigations at a site like Zatopec, which has been excavated on a number of occasions, helps to direct new investigations toward more meaningful portions of the site. As you may read later, for instance, previous investigations determined that a portion of the site had been disturbed by modern construction, and so the 2007 excavations used this information to avoid those compromised areas.