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Texas Archaeological Dig Challenges Assumptions about First Americans

Ancient stone artifacts reveal the day-to-day lives of Clovis people while offering tantalizing clues of an even earlier culture

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EXCAVATIONS IN PROGRESS:

Excavations at the Gault site in central Texas have uncovered a rich collection of artifacts from the Clovis culture dating from 13,300 to 12,800 years ago. Many archaeologists suggest these finds are redefining what we know about these early Americans, pointing to a more settled culture than previously believed.....[ More ]

CLOVIS POINTS:

Clovis culture is defined both by its time span and its distinctive projectile points. These Clovis points were discovered at Gault; all were damaged and resharpened multiple times and only discarded when they were no longer useful.....[ More ]

ANIMAL BONES:

For decades archaeologists believed Clovis people were primarily big game hunters who ate large animals such as mammoths. In contrast, excavations at Gault have turned up burned and broken bones of small animals such as birds and turtles, pointing to a diverse diet that included small game.....[ More ]

VARIETY OF TOOLS:

A greater variety of tools has been uncovered at Gault than at any other Clovis site. Pictured here are a sampling of stone tools designed for tasks such as working hide (an end scraper and hide punch), working wood (an adze), and hunting game (a projectile point).....[ More ]

TOOL WEAR PATTERNS:

Additional evidence for the variety of tasks performed at Gault is derived from the microscopic wear-patterns of tools. These Clovis tools were used as (a) a blade for working hide; (b) a knife for cutting soft material, possibly meat; (c) an adze for working wood; and (d) a sickle for cutting grass.....[ More ]

EXCAVATING PAVEMENT:

One of the most unusual finds at Gault is this gravel pavement 21.5 feet (two meters) square. The team carefully uncovered and documented this area, which experts suggest formed the floor of some kind of shelter.....[ More ]

PAVEMENT:

The pavement consists of gravel placed on clay soils. Numerous Clovis artifacts were recovered on and around the surface.....[ More ]

ENGRAVED STONE 1:

Another unusual finding at Gault are the engraved stones that may represent the earliest art in the Western Hemisphere. Of 200 engraved stones found at the site, a dozen are from the Clovis period. This Clovis-age stone was carefully incised with geometric lines.....[ More ]

ENGRAVED STONE 2:

This incised stone was carved on both sides with a fascinating--and so far incomprehensible--pattern. The engraved stones are some of the most intriguing artifacts from Gault, says Dennis Stanford, head of the anthropology department at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.....[ More ]

PRE-CLOVIS STONE FLAKES:

As exciting as the Clovis-era artifacts found at Gault, some archaeologists are even more thrilled by findings from below the Clovis soil layers. These stone flakes and fragment of a tool core are from deposits believed to predate Clovis by up to a thousand years, even though archaeologists believed for decades that Clovis were the first people in the Americas.....[ More ]

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