Web Extra: Gault site insight
Archeologist Clark Wernecke, director of the Gault School for Archeological Research in Austin, speaks about the Gault Site in Bell County, one of the richest Paleoindian sites in the world.
“Since 1993, I had been working on large Meso American archeological projects in Belize and Guatemala. But during the wet season, I’d be back at home to Texas, writing reports, recruiting people.
But I don’t sit still well, and they were just starting up in 1999 at Gault. I had heard that they were taking volunteers on the weekend. so I went out to volunteer. When my Meso American project ended, our principal investigator asked if I could work with him.
This was my first experience working on a Paleoindian site, and the first time I’d been able to drive at home at night.
But the big difference isn’t “where,” but “what.” In the Middle East, in the American Southwest, at Mayan sites—most places have architecture. You don’t have architecture at a Paleoindian site. You have stone tools and other organic clues, and you can’t afford to miss even the smallest clue.
The sheer quantity of artifacts at Gault is astounding; we will often have a thousand artifacts in the open excavation sites. People lived there for 14,000 years. Not only did the Edwards Plateau have an abundant supply of chert-one of the better tool-making materials—but there was also abundant fresh water.
Some of the most special pieces we’ve found are small pieces of limestone with incised designs; these are found throughout the world but have never found in a Paleoindian context. They are among the first art in the Americas.”
From the June 2012 issue.
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