Archaeologists digging for evidence of Alamo's west wall, mapping underneath compound

Crews are using a device called a ground penetrating radar, or GPR, to map what's underneath the Alamo compound. (Photo courtesy The Alamo Endowment)

SAN ANTONIO - Archaeologists are mapping what's beneath the 5 1/2-acre Alamo compound and digging to define the mission's west wall.

They're using a device called a ground penetrating radar, or GPR.

"It's a window to below ground without us having to do excavations," said Kay Hindes, city archaeologist.

The machine has four wheels and could be compared to a sonogram. The GPR is helping to chart burial sites, centuries-old water supplies and the Alamo's original walls up to 10 feet below ground.

"In order to be able to get to the stone cutting, we want to be sure we're taking up the right stones," said Becky Dinnin, director of the Alamo, "so we did ground penetrating radar to be sure that we understand what's underneath our feet."

A crew is removing the pavers that make up the sidewalk; they are numbered and will be replaced once the work is complete.

A jackhammer is breaking through the concrete, and then archaeologists can dig, trying to define the boundary.

"It should show us where stone walls are if they remain," Hindes said.

The information will help with the so-called Alamo master plan, which is expected to include a new museum and a new experience for visitors. The community can help shape that plan at a meeting Aug. 2.

A rough draft of the master plan should be released this fall, and the final version is expected next May.

"There's a lot of archaeology that has been done here," Dinnin said, "but we need to put it all together and stitch it together and weave it into a story that tells us the story of the whole compound."

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