Gault Site (Texas, US) - Clovis Workshop in Central Texas

Gault Clovis, Folsom/Midland and the Buttermilk Creek Complex

Gault Site Excavations in Progress
Gault Site Excavations in Progress. D. Clark Wernecke (c) 2006

Gault is the name of an archaeological site in central Texas where a meter-thick (3.2-foot) Late Prehistoric and Archaic midden overlies a hard-packed Paleoindian component. Components in evidence at the site include Late Prehistoric, Late Archaic, Early Archaic, and Paleoindian, Folsom and Clovis occupations.

Gault is particularly well known for the large quantities of Clovis materials--more than 600,000 Clovis age artifacts have been recovered from excavations which have exposed less than 3% of the total site area.

This constitutes about 60% of all known Clovis artifacts recovered in North America, making Gault an unprecedented research collection.

The site measures some 16 hectares (40 acres) in size, with up to 3 m (10 ft) of cultural deposits in some areas. The Clovis occupation covers an area of approximately 3 ha (7 ac). Gault is located near a natural spring and an outcrop of high-quality Edwards chert: that chert makes up the preponderance of stone tool source material.

Buttermilk Creek Paleoindian

Gault lies within the Buttermilk Creek drainage area, a small valley with abundant food resources, multiple springs and large quantities of Edwards chert. Gault is about 500 m (1640 ft) upstream from the Debra L. Friedkin site, which also has stratified Clovis and Folsom/Midland occupations. Researchers comparing the two sites suggest that Friedkin was a short-term, primarily late stage production camp where bifaces were reduced and points were made, while Gault was an intensively occupied workshop and campsite.

Artifacts recovered from Gault includes projectile points, performs, bifaces, adzes, blades, tools on blades, blade cores and, of course, huge quantities of manufacturing debris. More than 103 incised stones, among the first art in the Americas, have been recovered. The incised artifacts were recovered from Clovis, Folsom and Dalton levels, and display geometric, intentional and patterned engravings in parallel and perpendicular lines.

There are also Clovis-age features such as a well and stone pavement; and some butchered aimal bone was also recovered. A pre-clovis occupation has also been tentatively identified, made up of a set of tools and cores, found stratigraphically below the Clovis occupations and tentatively dated to ca 15,500 cal BC.

Archaeological Investigations

Gault has been known professionally since 1929 when UT Anthropology professor J.E. Pearce excavated part of a burnt rock midden there. This was followed by almost seventy years of excavations by commercial collectors and a pay-to-dig operation before the 1991 excavations by University of Texas archaeologists Thomas Hester and Michael Collins. Between 1999-2002 more than 4,000 volunteers worked on the site under the direction of Dr. Collins.

Sources

This definition was originally written by D. Clark Wernecke, and updated by K. Kris Hirst.

Goebel T, Waters MR, and O’Rourke DH. 2008. The Late Pleistocene Dispersal of Modern Humans in the Americas. Science 319:1497-1502.

Hildebrand JA, Wiggins SM, Driver JL, and Waters MR. 2007. Rapid seismic reflection imaging at the Clovis period Gault site in central Texas.

Archaeological Prospection 14(4):245-260.

Jennings TA. 2012. Clovis, Folsom, and Midland components at the Debra L. Friedkin site, Texas: context, chronology, and assemblages. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(10):3239-3247.

Lemke AK, Wernecke DC, and Collins MB. 2015. Early Art in North America: Clovis and Later Paleoindian Incised Artifacts from the Gault Site, Texas (41bl323). American Antiquity 80(1):113-133.

Morrow JE, Fiedel SJ, Johnson DL, Kornfeld M, Rutledge M, and Wood WR. 2012. Pre-Clovis in Texas? A critical assessment of the “Buttermilk Creek Complex”. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(12):3677-3682.

Speer CA. 2014. LA-ICP-MS analysis of Clovis period projectile points from the Gault Site. Journal of Archaeological Science 52:1-11.

Waters MR, Forman SL, Jennings TA, Nordt LC, Driese SG, Feinberg JM, Keene JL, Halligan J, Lindquist A, Pierson J et al.

2011. The Buttermilk Creek Complex and the Origins of Clovis at the Debra L. Friedkin Site, Texas. Science 331:1599-1603.

Wernecke DC, and Collins MB. 2012. Patterns and process: Some thoughts on the incised stones from the Gault Site, central Texas, United States. In: Clottes J, editor. Pleistocene Art of the World. Tarascon-sur-Ariege, France: Actes du Congres IFRAO.