Local historians will learn more at potluck dinner
The Gault Site sits near the head of a small creek in a small wooded valley, just at the point where three spring-fed brooks come together to form a clear, cool, vigorous stream.
It is one of the richest archeological finds and the research stemming from it is rewriting the ideas of how the Americas were peopled.
Bell County Commissioner Tim Brown serves on the Gault Site Archaeological Research Board of Directors. He will present a slide presentation and tell the story of the Gault Site, which is located in Bell and Williamson counties, during the Salado Historical Society annual Pot Luck Dinner, 6 p.m. March 5 at the Salado Church of Christ. Brown is an avocational archaeologist and currently serves as vice-president of the Gault Site Archaeological Research Board of Directors.
The main course for the pot luck dinner will be Roasted Pork Tenderloin, and drinks will be provided and guests are requested to bring their favorite side dish or dessert. There is no charge for the event and we are encouraging parents to bring their children.
The deep, well-watered soils of the stream valley provide habitat for huge hardwood trees – burr oaks, walnuts, pecans, ash, elm, bois d’arc, willow, cottonwood and several others. It has been known to archaeologists for at least 89 years. The property originally belonged to Henry and Jodie Gault (the archaeological site was named for them). The land was marginal for farming and Gault supplemented his meager income by scouting out archaeological sites for Alex Dienst, who later became the president of the Texas State Historical Association. He assisted J.E. Pierce, the first anthropologist at the University of Texas, and his crew, excavate his land for about eight weeks, and then he backfilled the site.
The land changed ownership several times, but was the focus for a great deal of collecting and looting. Collectors worked with heavy machinery and large crews, and eventually a commercial pay-to-dig operation allowed collectors the opportunity to dig for treasures at $2 per day (later $25/day), which severely damaged the site.
Archaeologists at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Historical Commission kept an eye on the site, but they could not come to any agreement with the land owner regarding professional excavation. A brief excavation in 1991 determined that the site was irreparably damaged to a strata of about 9,000 years ago. However, the Paleoindian strata was intact and remained deep down below the surface.
The land changed ownership in 1998 and a group from UT were asked by the new owners to look at something they had exposed at the site. It turned out to be the lower jaw of a juvenile mammoth and some ancient horse bones surrounded by a large number of Clovis artifacts. A three year lease between the University and the landowners allowed the first extensive research excavations at Gault. Between 1999 and 2002 more than 1.4 million artifacts were recovered, about half of them of Clovis age,
More than 2,300 volunteers worked on the Gault site, ranging from school children to graduate students to retirees. A number of universities participated in the excavation.
In 2006 the Gault School was incorporated as a Texas non-profit in an attempt to work toward acquiring the site and furthering both research and educational goals. In February of 2007 that dream became a reality and both research and education have begun again. In 2010 the academic Gault Project moved to a new home at Texas State University.
The whole story is incredible and the story of the peopling of the Americas is changing almost every day because of discoveries right in our back yard.
The Bell County Museum will be represented by Coleman Hampton, who will bring some visuals and artifacts.