Prehistory Research Project Update


The Prehistory Research Project (PRP) at TARL is working on three major projects; the Texas Clovis Fluted Point Survey (TCFPS), the Gault Archaeological Site, and the Little River Complex. Alan Slade, director of the TCFPS, has more than doubled the size of the database he is working with (750+) and found projectile points in 25 counties with no previously known points. Alan has been contacting museums and talking to collectors to build a better picture of the distribution of Clovis in Texas. In November Alan and Clark Wernecke presented some preliminary information about the TCFPS at the Plains Anthropological Conference in Kansas City. Ultimately the database, containing metrics and county level locations, will be made available online to help other researchers.

The PRP is also dealing with the monumental task of preparing the Gault collection for curation. The scientific monograph on Clovis and the older assemblage at Gault is currently being edited. About  2.6 million artifacts, 60,000+ photos, 200,000+ pages of field paperwork and a vast digital analysis database must now be prepared for future researchers.. Headed up by our curator, Jennifer Gandy, more than 15 students and volunteers have been working on the project. The work is expected to last more than 3 years.

The Little River Complex is a set of five single component Clovis sites from SW Kentucky. Carl Yahnig painstakingly collected everything, from debitage and tested cobbles to finished tools and points, over a period of 50 years. The PRP is inventorying and preparing this collection so it can be utilized by researchers in the future.

Jennifer Gandy preparing collections.

The PRP staff also had some things published this year. Sergio Ayala has two chapters in a book about The Calf Creek Horizon to be published by TAMU press this winter and a paper on an Andice cache in the Journal of Texas Archeology and History. Alan with other collaborators published a paper regarding allometry in western Clovis points in the Journal of Archaeological Science and Clark Wernecke, PRP project director, published a paper in the Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society about an early collector in Texas, Erich Pohl.



Texas Beyond History’s 20th Anniversary Year

Emily McCuistion and Steve Black

TARL’s award-wining public education service (TBH) notched two decades in 2021! The Virtual Museum of Texas’ Cultural Heritage first went live on October 1, 2001 with 20 hard-won online exhibits and content for K-12 schoolchildren and teachers. Twenty years later, TBH has 80+ exhibits, much more K-12 content and lots of other features highlighting Texas’ diverse archaeological and historical record.

In our 20th anniversary year, we are excited to be entering a new phase of growth and refinement, adding substantive new content by building on our traditional content models and creating new ways to feature content contributed by our colleagues. We will also be updating antiquated pages, renewing and expanding our partnerships, and plotting the next decade.

Among the outdated web pages slated for a refresh in early 2022 is “About TBH.”  Here is a preview: Susan Dial is now Editor Emeritus and will serve as reviewer and occasional contributor.  Steve Black has returned for a final run as TBH Editor following his retirement from teaching at Texas State at the end of 2019. Emily McCuistion is now the TBH Assistant Editor and she does most of the new content work; Emily is working on a new Special Exhibit on Radiocarbon Dating. Assistant Professor Heather Smith of Texas State University is renewing her TBH involvement and plans to create a new exhibit on famed Blackwater Draw.  We are seeking a worthy successor to TBH’s Education Editor Emeritus, Carol Schlenk.

Last year, in Fall 2020, TBH debuted the TBH Gallery, which highlights stories behind iconic artifacts and other physical materials illustrative of Texas´ cultural heritage. This dynamic exhibit will continue to grow, so keep an eye on it! A great way to stay current on TBH content and happenings is to follow our first social media account: @texasbeyondhistory on Instagram.

In November 2021 we unveiled the newest addition to Texas Beyond History—the Hendrick and Ware Plantations site exhibit! Sponsored by new TBH partner Cox|McLain, this exhibit tells the fascinating story of two neighboring northeast Texas 19th-century plantations, the planter families, and the enslaved African Americans who lived and worked among the pineywoods south of the Sabine River.

Texas Beyond History is proud to host accessible content presented for the public, yet information-rich for professionals and serious students of Texas’ cultural heritage. Not to brag, but few other states have anything remotely comparable to TBH.  We could not have achieved our 20-year record of success without the collaboration of innumerable Friends of TARL, partner organizations, and so many others.  Thanks and stay tuned!