While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Michael B. Collins

GAULT SITE. The Gault Site (41BL323) in southernmost Bell County was first investigated in 1929 by Professor James E. Pearce of the University of Texas, who mistakenly recorded the site as being in Williamson County. Early work at the site, which occurs in the proximity of several springs, revealed the great extent of archeological deposits. Artifacts typical of Archaic and Late Prehistoric cultures of the area were found in abundance. Over the next six decades relic collectors destroyed much of the site, occasionally bringing finds to the attention of archeologists. Among these finds have been Paleo-Indian and numerous early Archaic artifacts. Since 1990 investigations in a small area near one of the springs have brought to light at least twenty-one small weathered cobbles of limestone with elaborate engravings on their weathered surfaces, apparently associated with Clovis points dating to about 11,200 B.P. These investigations have been partly by avocational archeologists. A very limited excavation in 1991 by Thomas R. Hester and Michael B. Collins of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, the University of Texas at Austin, recovered six fragmentary engraved stones and clearly documented the deposits from which they came. Some clearly came from an in situ deposit in which was found a Clovis point. Age-diagnostic artifacts found in the same deposits indicate that these are of early Paleo-Indian age, possibly Clovis. Records and collections from the 1991 excavations by Hester and Collins as well as collections from Pearce's 1929 excavation are housed at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory. Notations on a few other artifacts from the site are to be found in the same repository. The engraving consists of fine lines evidently produced with sharp-edged stone flakes. Many of the stones are encrusted with calcium carbonate leaving the engravings only partially visible. Since the parent stone is soft limestone, itself calcium carbonate, no fool-proof method of exposing these designs for study has been identified and the full range of designs is imperfectly known. Straight lines predominate. Parallel line sets intersect similar sets at various angles to form rectilinear or diamond-shaped grids as the most common motifs. More complex patterns of intersecting straight and curving lines occur on some stones; an animal seems to be depicted as part of one of these. One stone has an array of diamond-shaped motifs at the ends of straight or jointed lines, forming a plant-like image. One very similar stone has been found in Folsom-age deposits at each of two other sites, the Wilson-Leonard site in Williamson County, Texas, and the Blackwater Draw site in Roosevelt County, New Mexico. These two plus the twenty-one engraved stones now known from the Gault site constitute the earliest securely dated engravings in North America.

Michael B. Collins et al., "Engraved Cobbles from Early Archaeological Contexts in Central Texas," Current Research in the Pleistocene 8 (1991). Michael B. Collins et al., "Engraved Cobbles from the Gault Site, Central Texas," Current Research in the Pleistocene 9 (1992). Thomas R. Hester et al., "Paleo-Indian Engraved Stones from the Gault Site," La Tierra 19 (1992).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Michael B. Collins, "GAULT SITE," accessed July 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bbgya.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...