Texas archaeologist Clark Wernecke helped excavate sites in Belize, Guatemala, and the Middle East before discovering that some of the world’s best-kept secrets are right here in Texas. Bell County’s Gault Site, first discovered in 1929 by University of Texas anthropologist J.E. Pearce, has since revealed more than 1.9 million artifacts dating back 13,000 years, including projectile points  and other toQis used by the earliest peoples in the Americas. “Working on a PaleoIndian site is very different than excavating, say, a Mayan city in Belize. There is no architecture. The sheer number of artifacts is overwhelming. You cannot afford to miss a single clue,” says Wernecke.

On May 2, the Bell County Museum in Belton debuted a new permanent exhibit called The Gault Site: A Wealth of New Archeological Information,
which will include murals, displays of significant discoveries, and a film
about the site produced by the Texas Historical Association.

Wernecke explains why the Gault site has proven so rich in artifacts. “The Edwards Plateau has one of the world ‘s largest supplies of chert—one of the best materials for making tools,” he says. “And the geographic diversity surrounding
the plateau meant that there was always a steady food supply, as well as the water and shelter the tribes needed to survive.”

To help out with ongoing excavations, see www.gaultschool.org. For details about the exhibit in Belton, call 254/ 933-5243; www.bellcountytx.com/museum.

From the July 2009 issue

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