The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Vara Daniel Site

Michael B. Collins General

The Vara Daniel Site, sometimes referred to as the Vera Daniel Site or Vera Daniels Site, is a deep, stratified sequence of cultural and natural deposits occupying the triangle of land between lower Barton Creek and the Colorado River in Zilker Park within the city of Austin. The site is one of the best-protected sites of its kind in the state because of its location in Austin's premier park and because it is so deeply buried that serious disturbance to it could only result from extensive earth moving. No full-scale excavation of the site has been conducted, but three episodes of archeological testing have documented the general nature and age of the deposits in the site. Repeated human occupations of the area in prehistoric times and the intermittent deposition of water-borne flood deposits resulted in a well-stratified sequence of natural and archeological strata. Relatively few artifacts were recovered by the series of preliminary investigations, but twenty-three radiocarbon determinations for the period from about 11,000 to 500 years ago provide a chronological framework for understanding the site.

In the area beneath what became the soccer and rugby fields north and south of Barton Springs Road are the thickest sequence of deposits documented and the oldest cultural remains. Here, deep machine-dug trenches exposed a sequence of at least a dozen prehistoric cultural deposits dating between about 10,000 to 3,300 years ago. In places these cultural deposits are as much as six meters below the surface. The ages determined for these deposits as well as the few diagnostic artifacts recovered indicate Paleo-Indian through Archaic occupations. South and east of this area, closer to Barton Creek, deep large-bore augering and backhoe trenching brought up evidence of younger but equally well stratified cultural and natural deposits, these dating between about 4,700 to 500 radiocarbon years ago and relating to the middle and late Archaic as well as to the Late Prehistoric archeological periods. Overall, the site is probably greater than 200,000 square meters in extent and probably averages more than four meters in depth, making it one of the largest deeply stratified sites known in Texas. It was also occupied throughout the known span of human presence in the area. This is not unexpected given its location on the ecotone between the Edwards Plateau and the Coastal Plain, near one of the region's largest springs, and at the confluence of a major creek and the Colorado River.

Michael B. Collins et al., "Quaternary Geology and Prehistory of the Vera Daniels Site, Travis County, Texas," Current Research in the Pleistocene 7 (1990). Robert A. Ricklis et al., "Archeological Testing at the Vera Daniel Site (41TV1364), Zilker Park, Austin, Texas," Studies in Archeology 12 (1991). Paul R. Takac et al., Archeological and Geomorphological Testing along the Proposed South Austin Outfall Relief Main, Phase II Tunnel Alignment: The Vara Daniel Site (41TV1364), Zilker Park, Austin, Texas, Technical Series 28, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (University of Texas at Austin, 1992).


  • Archeology
  • Land Sites

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Michael B. Collins, “Vara Daniel Site,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 01, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.