Tag Archives: archaeology

Happenings: Gault School Symposium

Gault School hosts free archaeology symposium, volunteer work day

Clovis Biface

Clovis biface from Gault Site

The Gault School of Archaeological Research will host an evening of research presentations and discussions, “Paleoindian Symposium: Voices from South America,” on Thursday, April 26, from 6:30-8 p.m. in McCoy Hall, room 119, on the Texas State University campus.

The Gault School, headquartered at Texas State, is a center for innovative, interdisciplinary research archaeology focusing on the earliest peoples in the western hemisphere and their cultural antecedents. The Gault Archaeological Site, located in northern Williamson County, contains numerous paleoindian artifacts. Discoveries made at the Gault Site are revealing new information about human history in the Americas. (Read more and watch a video about the work here.) Continue reading

Spotlight: Dr. Michael Collins

Collins’ lifelong work honored
by Texas Archeological Society

Collins with dig site in background

Dr. Michael Collins, pictured at the Gault site.

By Ann Friou

Dr. Michael B. Collins, research professor in anthropology at Texas State University, has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Archeological Society (TAS). The TAS, which promotes the study, preservation and awareness of Texas archaeology, presented the award to Collins on Oct. 29.

Collins co-directs the world-renowned Gault archaeological site in Central Texas, where recent discoveries have changed most archaeologists’ thinking about America’s earliest inhabitants. Continue reading

Rising Stars: Michael Collins

Texas State archaeology professor
brings ancient culture to life


Michael Collins came of age during a period Texas author Elmer Kelton referred to as “the time it never rained.”

One of the worst droughts on record gripped much of the United States, including Collins’ hometown of Midland, in the 1950s. Lakes dried up. Unceasing heat desiccated the soil. Agricultural activity slowed to a crawl.

The West Texas winds did not slow down. They stole the dirt, carrying it by the ton for hundreds of miles in swirling, choking clouds. Collins remembers a horseman riding under a barbed-wire fence — and not being able to touch the bottom strand.

But while the drought and the winds were stealing topsoil from West Texas, they were giving Mike Collins a gift: archaeology. Continue reading

Texas State Updates: Lower Pecos Canyonlands Dig

Texas State archaeologist digs up
clues to rock art painters’ lives

By Ann Friou, College of Liberal Arts

Student archaeologists cook desert plants in an earth oven.

The discovery of a large prehistoric earth oven on a ranch in southwest Texas is giving an archaeologist at Texas State University the opportunity to answer questions about the lives of the ancient people who painted the famed rock art along the Texas-Mexico border.

Dr. Stephen Black and students enrolled in Texas State’s Summer Archaeological Field School will spend the month of June excavating the earth oven, on the Ryes ‘N Sons Ranch in Val Verde County, near Comstock. The oven, called a “burned rock midden” by archaeologists, is about three-quarters of a mile from a well-known rock art site. The area is part of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, the name archaeologists give to the rugged, deeply incised canyons formed by the Rio Grande and its major tributaries, the Pecos and Devils Rivers.

Earth ovens are layered arrangements of earth for sheltering the red-hot limestone cobbles used to bake local desert semi-succulent plants such as agave, lechugilla and sotol hearts. The plants were baked for two days to render the complex carbohydrates into edible sugars. Prehistoric peoples—hunter-gatherers whose tribal names have been lost—began baking plants some 7,000 years ago or earlier, a practice that intensified 3,000-4,000 years ago and peaked about 1,000 years ago. (The oldest pictographs in the rockshelters date to 4,000-5,000 years ago). Continue reading