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Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga

Tamra Lynn Walter
Foreword by Thomas R. Hester
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  • Book Info
    Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga
    Book Description:

    In the early part of the eighteenth century, the Spanish colonial mission Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga was relocated from far south Texas to a site along the Guadalupe River in Mission Valley, Victoria County. This mission, along with a handful of others in south Texas, was established by the Spaniards in an effort to Christianize and civilize the local Native American tribes in the hopes that they would become loyal Spanish citizens who would protect this new frontier from foreign incursions.

    With written historical records scarce for Espíritu Santo, Tamra Walter relies heavily on material culture recovered at this site through a series of recent archaeological investigations to present a compelling portrait of the Franciscan mission system. By examining findings from the entire mission site, including the compound, irrigation system, quarry, and kiln, she focuses on questions that are rarely, if ever, answered through historical records alone: What was daily life at the mission like? What effect did the mission routine have on the traditional lifeways of the mission Indians? How were both the Indians and the colonizers changed by their frontier experiences, and what does this say about the missionization process?

    Walter goes beyond simple descriptions of artifacts and mission architecture to address the role these elements played in the lives of the mission residents, demonstrating how archaeology is able to address issues that are not typically addressed by historians. In doing so, she presents an accurate portrait of life in South Texas at this time. This study of Mission Espíritu Santo will serve as a model for research at similar early colonial sites in Texas and elsewhere.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79554-9
    Subjects: Archaeology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Thomas R. Hester

    Having been trained as a prehistoric archaeologist, I had never had much interest in the archaeology of the Spanish missions—even though I spent a month in summer 1966 as a crew member on the first team to conduct archaeology at the Alamo. However, in the 1970s and 1980s, while teaching at the University of Texas at San Antonio, I gained a great deal of exposure to Spanish colonial archaeology through projects by the Center for Archaeological Research and largely through the efforts of Anne A. Fox and Jack D. Eaton. This gave rise to a continuing interest in the...

    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    (pp. 1-6)

    The Spanish Colonial era in Texas began in the sixteenth century with the arrival of explorers such as Álvarez de Piñeda and Cabeza de Vaca. The period lasted into the early nineteenth century and is marked by the remains of missions, presidios, ranchos,visitas(visiting or outlying missions), and various Spanish settlements. The region we now call Texas includes a much greater area than the Hispanic Texas known to the Spanish as Tejas or the New Kingdom of the Philippines, as it was called from 1694 to 1715. During the Spanish occupation of the region, the area encompassed the lands...

    (pp. 7-26)

    Although Spain’s presence in the New World began in the late fifteenth century, the expansion of its empire into North America did not officially begin until the middle of the sixteenth century. Spanish explorers beginning in the early 1500s had already penetrated parts of North America. Ponce de León, who explored the coastline of Florida, undertook one of the earliest recorded journeys to the region, in 1513. Motivated by the prospect of gold and other rich resources (Céliz 1935), several Spaniards undertook subsequent journeys into the region of North America. Álvarez de Piñeda investigated the area along the Gulf Coast...

    (pp. 27-47)

    Prominently situated on a knoll overlooking the Guadalupe River, the standing ruins are still visible of the third location of Mission Espíritu Santo (Figure 3.1), the focus of our investigations. Although for years it was referred to as an old Spanish mission, no formal investigations were carried out to verify the origins of the ruins until the University of Texas’ excavations in the 1990s. As a result, the first step in our examination of the site was to confirm that this location does indeed represent the actual mission site. Goals for the subsequent excavations included recovering data concerning the daily...

    (pp. 48-73)

    Currently, no historical references concerning the general layout or architecture of the mission compound have been found, but a few sketch maps and photographs from the early twentieth century do exist. What we have learned about the construction and configuration of the site has therefore come almost entirely from the archaeological investigations. A primary objective of these investigations was to define the layout of the mission complex and describe its construction. Consequently, architectural research focused on exposing and delimiting the remains of the mission buildings. As a result of intensive investigations, five structures were defined:

    Structure 1 Church

    Structure 2...

    (pp. 74-83)

    A unique aspect of the research at Espíritu Santo at the Mission Valley site was the identification and investigation of a number of sites related to the mission. Research at two mission dams and the associatedacequiasystem as well as the mission quarry, while producing no artifacts, offered an opportunity to fill in details that contribute to our understanding of the history and operation of the site. Perhaps most important, the information gathered from all of the sites allows us to view the mission in a much more comprehensive manner. By exploring so many aspects of the mission system,...

    (pp. 84-161)

    A wide variety of cultural materials was recovered from the investigations at the mission. Although a tremendous amount of data was recovered from the investigations at the quarry, the mission dams, and theacequias, no artifacts were found in association with these features. The discussion of material culture therefore focuses on the remains collected from the mission excavations. To understand the significance of the material record, all classes of artifacts needed to be described and quantified. The next step in the analysis was to try to detect patterns in the assemblage that reflect evidence of specific activities or behaviors of...

  11. Seven MISSION FOODWAYS: The Faunal Collection
    (pp. 162-186)

    Exploring foodways requires examining not only diet but also how food was procured, processed, butchered, and served (Hann and McEwan 1998). Given the quantity of faunal remains, including animal bone and shell, frequently recovered from Spanish Colonial sites, archaeologists can directly address questions concerning Colonial foodways. In a mission setting, the makeup of a faunal collection depends on many factors. For example, the availability of local resources, access to domesticated or European-introduced species, the ethnic composition of the mission population, and religious restrictions all affect the types of foods that are consumed. Consequently, a primary goal of the faunal analysis...

    (pp. 187-198)

    The establishment of Spanish settlements including missions, presidios, ranchos, and civilian communities in the eighteenth century left a lasting mark on the landscape of Texas. Regrettably, many Spanish sites, such as the third location of Espíritu Santo in Mission Valley, are not well documented, and historical records remain scarce. The importance of archaeological research therefore cannot be overemphasized. Investigations at Espíritu Santo’s third location underscore the invaluable contributions that archaeology can make to Spanish Colonial studies. Furthermore, the scope of work at the mission is unique among mission studies. Rarely do we get the opportunity to explore so many aspects...

    (pp. 199-210)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 211-223)