The Center for Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross State University is seeking volunteers to help uncover a possible Clovis site at the Genevieve Lykes Duncan (GLD) site at the O2 Ranch in Brewster County.
The GLD site is between two significant drainages in an area with plant and animal resources and an abundance of nearby lithics suitable for manufacturing stone artifacts. The site contains multiple ancient human occupations, mostly deeply buried, with a few artifact materials visible on the surface. Previous investigations conducted by the CBBS at the GLD site have firmly established the presence of deeply buried hot rock cooking ovens dating back to 10,800 years, some of the oldest in North America.
The site has considerable promise for cultural deposits pre-dating the Late Paleoindian period (before 11,000 years) that were never thoroughly explored, according to Dr. Bryon Schroeder, the center’s director. Early work in a backhoe trench at the site determined charred plant material from below the earth ovens was Clovis-aged.
The Clovis culture is an ancient Paleoamerican culture named for distinct stone and bone tools near Clovis, N.M., in 1936 and 1937. It existed near the end of the Ice Age and is characterized by “Clovis points,” a type of stone projectile point used for hunting large, extinct game, like mammoths.
“The site is especially significant for the Big Bend Region of Texas because intact buried Paleoamerican sites are rarely encountered,” said Schroeder. “The Paleoamerican Period of the Big Bend has been primarily characterized by a series of isolated finds of diagnostic dart points.”
Clovis point preform recovered from the Genevieve Lykes Duncan dig site.
The University of Kansas Odyssey Research team and the CBBS carried out excavations at the GLD site over one 12-day session in 2020. Identifying an extensive Clovis-aged soil in the excavations demonstrates the presence of a buried Clovis-aged landscape. This work also discovered a definitive Clovis artifact commonly associated with camp activities, suggesting that a Clovis occupation is associated with this buried landscape.
In 2021 Sul Ross and Odyssey crews mapped the sites with LiDAR (light detection and ranging), leaving the deposits for the 2022 Odyssey field session. Excavation work continued that year, and a small fragment of charcoal found slightly above the Clovis soil yielded an uncalibrated radiocarbon age of about 13,500 years, consistent with the numerical age of the Clovis cultural period.
Volunteers are needed for two 10-day sessions scheduled from May 15-24 and May 29-June 7. A signed waiver will be required to enter the site. To volunteer, contact the CBBS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the center, visit cbbs.sulross.edu.