All posts by Dorothy Riegert

An Exploration of the Martinez Family of Potters

Ella Ip is a senior at Hopkins School in New Haven, Connecticut, but her primary residence is Austin, Texas. She worked at the UT TARL Lab as a summer intern interested specifically in black-on-black pottery. She researched and wrote this opinion-editorial under Marybeth S. Tomka.

An Exploration of the Martinez Family of Potters

Ella Ip

I was first exposed to San Ildefonso pottery in my sophomore AP Art History class. We were introduced to the Pueblo people’s heritage and reason for continuing the art of pottery within their tribes. When I spotted the blackware pottery created by the Martinez family on a tour of the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (UT TARL Lab), I knew I had to investigate the pieces even further. The purpose of my research was to investigate the ethnographies of the Pueblo people, document multiple donations of Pueblo pottery, and explore the Martinez Family Potter’s efforts to revitalize the traditional way of creating pottery.

My first step in researching was to develop a foundational knowledge on the people of the Pueblo communities. According to Edward P. Dozier, Pueblos are the most easily delimitable group in the greater Southwest and exhibit the most resistance to change. Pueblo communities are set apart from their indigenous neighbors by two main criteria: farming as a principal basis of subsistence and residence in compact villages. The contemporary groups are identified by linguistic affiliations: Hopi, Zuni, Keresan, and Tanoan. All the Pueblo Indians’ villages are situated in an arid climate and high altitudes (5,000 to 7,000 feet above the sea). An integral factor in understanding the Pueblo people was investigating the ethnographies of the Western and Eastern Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona. Older classifications of the native cultural groups of the Southwest lumped all the Pueblo groups together without indicating a significant division between east and west.

The early 20th century divided the two groups, but not all have agreed to assign the same Pueblos to each category. The original classification of the American Southwest made a twofold division: a stationary people (the Pueblos) and a nomadic group (all other groups).

Florence Hawley Ellis’ Western division includes Hopi and Zuni, while her Eastern division includes the Tanoan Pueblos and most of the Keresan-speaking Pueblos, with Acoma and Laguna as transitional. Fred Eggan places Hopi, Zuni, Laguna, Acoma in his Western Pueblos, and Jemez as transitional. Eggan also used kinship types and other correlated social factors as a benchmark for his classification. The Western Pueblo social structure type, including Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, and Laguna, is described by Eggan: characterized by the kinship system called “Crow type”; a household organization based on lineage and clan. In some cases, the phratry group; an associational structure based around the ceremony and its symbol such as a raven or wolf in northwestern United States tribes with relationships to lineage, clan, and household; and a theocratic system of social control. The single exception is Jemez, the Tanoan-speaking Pueblos, as they have another social structure. This Eastern Pueblo type is characterized by a kinship system where the terms are descriptive and bilateral. The household is either of the nuclear types or else extended to include relatives of one or both parents’ sides.

There is no hint of lineage principle in the organization of the terms, the family structures, or the members’ behaviors. Beyond the household is a second division of the community, usually referred to as a moiety, whose functions are governmental and ceremonial. Moiety membership is required of all, and moiety affiliation is usually with father’s moiety but may be changed at marriage or other reasons. Other related structures include three types of sodalities or associations:

  1. Those with governmental and religious functions associated with the dual divisions
  2. Medicine associations embodying curing and exorcising practices
  3. Associations with special functions, such as those for war, hunting , and clowning.

Once I had a background knowledge of the Pueblo people, I could address the Martinez Family Potters. Maria Martinez often spoke of the Pajarito Plateau excavations at Tyuonyi and Frijoles Canyon, near San Ildefonso, in 1908 and 1909. Dr. Edgar Lee Hewett, a professor of archaeology and Director Museum of New Mexico, and who later became Maria’s mentor and friend, led these efforts. Hewett was commissioned to research abandoned pueblos and ancient burial mounds of the Tewa, and his work resulted in findings of exceptional interest. Hewett’s excavation, one of many directed in San Ildefonso over several years, turned up many pottery shards not frequently found in the Southwest. The shards were dark or black, some of them having a highly polished finish. They were different from traditionally found black-on-cream or black-on-red pottery, although some of these pots were also found in the area (whole and fragmented). He wanted to find an Indian woman in the area whom he could ask to make pots in this style and what she thought these pieces would have looked like whole. He was referred to Maria Martinez as she was known as a woman who could make the thinnest, roundest pots in the least amount of time. He visited her at the pueblo with some of the uncommon sherds and asked her to recreate the black pottery as close to the original ancient shards as possible. This was the beginning of the now-famous black pottery of San Ildefonso that Maria and her family have developed and perfected for more than half a century.

The last step of my research was to understand the process in which the black-on-black pottery is created. When discussing the pottery process, Maria described it as a kind of observation-instruction that is continuous in each day’s structure, in the isolation of pueblo life, for all who are part of it. She did not call the process teaching, but instead, real direct learning by imitating, demonstrating, and merely watching. Although this type of learning theoretically is most optimal in unstructured natural situations, Indian daily life is organized, setting up a series of repetitions that become the structure for a delicate educational process.

Firstly of all, the raw materials have to be gathered and processed carefully, or the final vessel will not fire correctly. To make the pottery stronger, it had to be mixed with a temper made from shards of broken pots reduced to a powder or volcanic ash. You start by taking large lumps of clay that are pried with a pick or file from the quarry, taken home, and laid out to dry in the sun for a couple of days. After the clay is evenly dried, it is placed into a vessel with enough water to cover and soak for two to four days. After several rinsings and then mixing, the solution is passed through a sieve to remove pebbles and other impurities, yielding a milkshake-like material. This mixture is allowed to “set up” for several days. Before the clay can be modeled, a filler or tempering agent made of volcanic tuff, basalt, obsidian, quartz, and other minerals are diligently mixed with the clay. This process helps counteract shrinkage and facilitates drying, thus lessening the likelihood of cracking. The potter takes a lump of clay about the size of a fist and pats it into a cone’s shape, forming the base. Using a shaping spoon or kajape usually made from a gourd, the potter scrapes and thins out the clay. Continually turning and working the wet kajape readies the base upon which rolls or coils of clay are built up into a roughly shaped vessel. Continual rubbing, moistening, and turning gradually smooths and thins out the walls and refines the shape. After curing a few days, additional scraping further thins and evens the walls.

After additional drying- 2 to 4 days depending on the weather- readies the pot for sanding. After sanding with coarse and very fine sandpaper, the pot is smoothed again by rubbing it with a wet cloth, which redistributes surface particles to fill in scratches. Next, a “slip” is applied to improve the surface texture and color. The slip is a suspension of clay in water with a thin cream consistency, and it is applied either by brush or small folded cloth. After one or two applications of the slip, the potter begins rubbing with a polishing stone, also known as burnishing. When fully burnished, a thin coat of hand-applied grease oil, followed by more rubbing, results in a highly reflective finish that some believe is a modern-day chemical glaze. Using the same clay formed by the slip, the potter makes a thin suspension as a paint. With a simple brush, sometimes a leaf from a yucca plant frayed or chewed at the end, the design is meticulously painted on (no erase is possible without sanding away the pattern and slipping and burnishing again).

When making black-on-black San Ildefonso pottery, the painted-on areas will be matte after firing, and the remainder of the surface will retain the shininess of burnishing. Additional decoration methods include carving the clay with tools, impressing a design in the moist clay, or incising an intricate image. Maria and Julian built these forms and decorations based on their own people’s art, adding some embellishments painted with an iron-rich solution created by pulverized iron ore or a reduction of wild plants called guaco. Some of the old stylized patterns are mountains, clouds, rain falling both near and far away, lightning, birds, feathers, leaves, seeds, pods, tracks of roadrunners, and mythical symbols such as water serpent. Santana made a series of upward zigzags, which she calls kiva steps.  Firing is the last step. For blackware, the materials and steps of preparing the clay, modeling, finishing, and decorating are the same as for red pottery. In a technique rediscovered by Maria and Julian Martinez, powdered cow (would have been bison dung in prehistoric or prehistoric times) dung is used to surround and cover a pot, thus blocking the entry of oxygen around the pot and preventing oxygen being absorbed by the pot. The clay is infiltrated with the black soot and earns its signature black color.

Throughout my entire process of studying pottery’s cultural significance, I learned about the emphasis on preserving the Indian experience. Often, Indians will not write down, speak, or give formal directions on performing cultural activities. They will live in it through various rituals, dances, art, music, and symbols. There is an intense pressure upon living the Indian life instead of having to learn it. Indians are not concerned with our lives’ consumer culture but the mundane tasks of everyday life. Maria continued to live in the pueblo with her family, away from the spotlight given to them because of Maria’s famed pottery. The sacrifice of living in isolation is worth it when you can preserve your traditions. The fear of corruption from the outside world is too great to allow outsiders to come into the community. Simplicity is celebrated, and complexity is shunned. Indian children are raised to assimilate the Pueblo culture in the same way they breathe. The same thing can be said about the beautiful black-on-black San Ildefonso pottery. You cannot be taught the ancient art of pottery but use the art of observation to learn. Maria always said that she was not taught pottery and that she grew up watching the women in her life making pottery. A piece of art purchased by collectors is also a piece of culture for the Pueblo people.

*Research and writing overseen by Marybeth S. Tomka


Dozier, Edward P. “The Pueblo Indians of the Southwest: A Survey of the Anthropological

Literature and a Review of Theory, Method, and Results.” Current Anthropology 5, no. 2 (April 1964): 79-97. Accessed May 30, 2020.

Fricke, Suzanne Newman. “Puebloan: Maria Martinez, Black-on-black ceramic vessel.” Khan Academy. Accessed June 16, 2020

Michaelis, Pamela. “How Pueblo Pottery is Made.” Collector’s Guide. Accessed June 16, 2020.

TARL Announcement by Dean Stevens

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Fred Valdez to serve as the Director of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) for a 4.5 year term, effective January 16, 2021.  While his term begins immediately, he will continue to work with Brian Roberts to guarantee a smooth transition. Thanks to all of you in TARL, NAIS, Anthropology, and throughout the college who consulted with me on this decision.

Dr. Valdez is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology, focusing his research on Mesoamerica and the decline of complex societies, particularly the Maya and Huastec. He has held numerous leadership positions during his tenure at UT, including as Chair of the Archaeological Studies program, Director of the Mesoamerican Archaeological Research Laboratory, and most recently as the Director for both the Center for Archaeological and Tropical Studies and the UT-Austin Belize Archaeology Program. He is a faculty affiliate of numerous departments and centers across campus, including Native American and Indigenous Studies, the Borderlands Program, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, the Department of Mexican American and Latino/a Studies, the Center for Mexican American Studies and the Mesoamerican Center.

Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Fred into this new role.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Brian Roberts for his years of outstanding leadership of TARL.  Brian has continued his long tradition of stepping in to help where it is needed in the College and University and we are all grateful for his commitment and service to UT.

Warm regards,

Ann Stevens

A Special Tribute to Mike Quigg

By Marybeth Tomka

The Gault School, TARL, the Texas community as well as the larger North American archeological community lost a dynamic and cheerful friend in J. Michael Quigg on Monday December 7th after a short battle with cancer.  I was asked to write this short tribute because of my association with him these last 30 plus years.

I first met Mike, or Quigg to many, in 1987 when he came to Texas to work for Prewitt and Associates (PAI) bringing his Northern Plains experience with bison hunters.  He quickly became a friend, a colleague first to my husband Steve who was also working for PAI, and then one of the managers I worked with at TRC (then Mariah).  Others will write of his many contributions to archeological reports and archeological interpretations, but I choose to write of his personality which allowed him to be an equally talented team leader, team member, mentor, and friend.

As a team leader he would seek my advice as the team member with expertise in lab and curation matters; as a fellow team member and mentor we would discuss options for moving forward on projects; and as a friend he was always there with supportive words and at times great hugs.  I came to see him as a brother.

After many years of not working together, he came back to TARL when Gault did two years ago, and once again he was a colleague, mentor and friend.  It was a bright day when Gault moved back into TARL quarters bringing this wonderful man. 

My own family joins the Gault family in mourning this excellent archeologist, he shared his birthday with my daughter, was godfather to my son, and true friend to both Steve and I.  You are already missed and will be remembered for your outstanding archeology and kindness to all. 

2020 Texas Archeology Month Preperations


October 10th from 10 AM to 2 PM at the JJ Pickle Research Campus of UT Austin. 


The Texas Archeology Month Fair scheduled for October 10th 2020 is canceled due to concerns around the pandemic. In lieu of the fair, TARL is releasing a series of archeology-related content to be released on a rolling basis through the entire month of October. While we are saddened that we can not host the in-person fair, we are delighted to be able to celebrate the rich history of Texas all month long! Virtual content will include a variety of archeological related coloring books, virtual story time for kids hosted by BookPeople, Texas Archeology activities in your own backyard, videos highlighting TARL’s collections and research opportunities, and virtual brown bag discussions led by professional archeologists in our community. To end the celebration of archeology month, we will be hosting a virtual pumpkin carving competition on Halloween! Something is available for archeology enthusiasts of all ages!

For four years, we have had the great pleasure of hosting the Texas Archeology Month Fair. A variety of organizations, institutions and companies have contributed interactive experiences through an assortment of archaeological displays and hands-on activities.  In celebration of the fifth year since the fair’s re-institution in 2016, we are bringing Austin an even bigger and better opportunity to engage with the history of Texas. Building on the successes of previous fairs, the 2020 fair will provide even greater opportunities for participation from the local Texas archeological community. At no cost to participate, this is an ideal opportunity for your organization to reach the public as an exhibitor or for your firm to donate in support of their outreach goals. Donations of just $100-$200 would go far in establishing the TARL Fair fund. Through contributions we will address the limitations from years past. We will secure stronger advertisement targeting our public audience and provide more appealing amenities. Among our already 26 confirmed exhibitors, we are delighted to announce new involvement from the Buffalo Soldiers and the larger Austin community with a classic Austinite array of food trucks. This extension of the fair is expected to attract a larger audience than previously reached in the fair’s recent history.

Update Summer 2020:

Along with our community, TARL has had to adjust in the current crisis and like our ancestors we adapt. Amidst these events we are still looking forward and in the deference of limited time for planning we are sharing our preparation progress and future plans for the 2020 Texas Archeology Month Fair. While we are planning for future normalcy we will continue to adjust with the ongoing situation. A contingency plan is already being formed in the event that the current COVID-19 crisis is still limiting public gatherings in the fall. In such a case, donors will be given the option of a reimbursement or the option for the funds to be retained for use in the following 2021 TAM fair. The TARL Fair fund is yet another way in which we are securing the future of the Fair as any contributions will be retained with the sole purpose of use in the future fair.  Our greatest commitment is to promote preservation and public edification of the great Texas archeological legacy. It would be our pleasure if you would join us in that endeavor.

Here at TARL we think Texas archaeology is a big deal. So please, help us celebrate archeology the Texas way!

The fair is free and open to the public. Tables and chairs will be provided for the exhibitors. More details will be provided over the next couple of months. For more information or inquiries into participation, please contact Annie Riegert at and Clark Wernecke at



In Memory of John Wilburn Clark, Jr.

By Wendy Clark

Historical archeologist John Wilburn Clark, Jr. passed away on Sunday, May 24th. He was seventy-six years old.

A lifelong Austin, Texas resident, John initially went to the University of Texas at Austin to refine his artistic skills. However, after venturing on a field trip with an anthropology professor, he soon developed a lifelong passion for anthropology and archeology and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Anthropology. He later attended graduate school at the University of Arkansas and became a Registered Professional Archeologist. His knowledge base was expansive, enabling him to identify historical architectural styles, ceramics, and other artefacts. Though his interest in archeology was broad and spanned continents, he further specialized in Texas historical archeology and contributed extensively to current understanding of Spanish Colonial and Texas history. His work has been used to preserve and protect numerous historical sites.

Among his publications and contributions were: Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo: Archaeological Investigations, December 1974, 1978; La Reina Norteña: History and Archaeology of San Jose Mission, 1980; “Historical Antecedents Beyond the Texas Border” in A Texas Legacy, the Old San Antonio Road and the Caminos Reales, 1998; and many others. He was a contributor to such journals as the Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society, and regularly wrote extensive reports for the Texas Department of Transportation.

John’s passion for history and archaeology took him to many places, including Mexico, where he met his wife of forty-two years. A dedicated husband and father, John supported his wife and children throughout his life. He was also a doting grandfather who delighted in and encouraged his granddaughter’s artistic skills.

John is survived by his wife, Gloria Clark; three children, Wendy Clark, Ellen Dass, and Ashley Balcom; one grandchild, Aislyn; and a sister, Linda Clark.

Donations in memory of John W. Clark, Jr. can be made to the Texas Archeological Research Lab (TARL), at the University of Texas at Austin. Online donations can be made using the link**&source=LWE. Be sure to select TARL from the drop-down menu. Use the blank to enter John’s name and use the “special information” to indicate Friends’ Group. Mail-in donations can be sent to TARL, 1 University Station, R7500, Austin, Texas 78712 and indicate on your check in memory of John W. Clark, Jr.

2019 Texas Archeology Month Fair

Much thanks to all who participated and attended the 2019 Texas Archeology Month Fair! With the help of 78 student volunteers and our local professional and avocational archeologists, TARL was able to hold another successful Texas Archeology Month Fair!  This year’s fair was attended by 303 guests who were able to visit representatives from 22 different museums, archaeological organizations, and student groups. These groups had booths with a wide array of activities including atlatl throwing, ochre painting, multiple show and tell displays, flintknapping, interactive dance demonstrations, and much more! Much gratitude also goes to our generous donors including the Council of Texas Archeologists, the Texas Historical Commission, the Travis County Archaeological Society, AR Consultants, and the Gault School of Archaeological Research.


Check out some of the highlights from the fair below! (Photos courtesy of Tom Williams, Gault School of Archaeological Research)



Great Promise for American Indians conducted a dance demonstration and pulled the crowd in to learn a snake dance.

Christopher Ringstaff, Sergio Ayala, and Robert Lassen demonstrate flintknapping.

Student volunteers show fair attendees how to use the Atlatl.

Keva  Boardman  shows  our  younger  attendees  how  to  paint  with fat  and  ochre.

  Kenneth Headrick discusses real artifacts vs. reproductions.

Join us for the Texas Archeology Month Fair!


UPDATE: Thanks to the generous donation from the Gault School of Archaeological Research the Texas Archaeology Month Fair will be held in the Commons Learning Center again this year (the purple building in the map below). Some booths such as atlatl throwing and flintknapping will still take place outside. We look forward to celebrating Texas Archeology Month with you!

October is almost here and  TARL is planning our annual Texas Archeology Month Fair! Please join us to kick off Texas Archeology Month sponsored by the Texas Historical Commision, Council of Texas Archeologists and the Texas Archeological Society. This year’s Fair will take place on October 5, 2019. Join us on the soccer field at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus in north Austin from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for free, hands-on fun for all! Thanks to the collaboration of professional and avocational archeologists, this free event provides an interactive education experience on the history of Texas through archaeological displays, hands-on activities, and artifact identification. Along with artifact identification, kids and adults have the opportunity to test their skills in pottery-making, atlatl throwing, artifact reconstruction, excavation, and more! Other highlights of the fair will include flintknapping demonstrations and face-painting. In addition the fair offers information on innovating techniques in the field such as 3-D modeling and how scientific methods are utilized to preserve the rich history of Texas at nearby sites. Please come out to join us for this free event open to the public!

The event is open to all visitors and there’s something fun for everyone!


The Pickle Research Campus is located in north Austin near the Domain shopping center, just west of MoPac at the corner of Burnet Road and Braker Lane.


This year’s activities and demonstrations will include:

  • Pottery-making
  • Flintknapping
  • Atlatl and rabbit sticks (prehistoric hunting techniques)
  • Painted pebbles
  • Rock art
  • Artifact Show and Tell
  • Dance Demonstration by Great Promise for American Indians
  • Artifact Reconstruction
  • Face painting
  • Leather-Painting
  • And many more!

This year’s donors include:


TARL’s event partners include:

  • UT’s Anthropological Society
  • UT’s Anthropology department
  • UT’s Classics department
  • UT’s Mesoamerica Center
  • The Texas Archeological Society
  • The Texas Memorial Museum
  • Great Promise for American Indians
  • TxDOT
  • The Travis County Archeological Society
  • Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology program
  • Texas State University’s Anthropology department
  • The Gault School of Archaeological Research
  • The Council of Texas Archeologists
  • The Texas Historical Commission
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife
  • Many individual volunteers

TARL is looking for general volunteers to assist presenters and help with set-up and clean-up. To volunteer, please email the curatorial associate, Annie Riegert at

Thank you so much to our partners and sponsors, who are helping to make this event possible!

We are delighted to kick off the 2019 Texas Archeology Month. For more TAM events going on throughout October please visit:





Join TARL and the Prehistory Research Project for our Brown Bag Speaker Series!


UPDATE: Scheduling update! Lectures 2 and 5 have now been switched so that Thomas J. Williams will be presenting on September 27th and Nancy Velchoff will be presenting on November 8th.  Please see the corrected schedule below. 


Join the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory and the Prehistory Research Project this fall to learn all about Clovis Technology. Originally associated with the earliest peoples in North America, continued research has shown that Clovis technology is a younger cultural manifestation. Despite this, it remains unique in the Americas for its geographic range and technology. Researchers from the Prehistory Research Project will present on various topics including the history of Clovis research, overshot production, regional variability, experimental reproduction, and blade technology.



All lectures will take place on Fridays from 11:30-1:30 in Portable 5A outside of TARL’s main building on the J.J. Pickle Research Campus.

Event Dates:

September 20th  Michael B. Collins

Clovis at Gault and in the Western Hemisphere

Robust data on Clovis lithic technology from the Gault site, Central Texas, and other sites suggest an improved concept of Clovis as an archeological manifestation.  Historically, fluted Clovis points have been the operative diagnostic artifact for Clovis which has given rise to interpretive limitations.  When available evidence permits, a more reliable characterization of Clovis emerges from the full technology of stone tool production, use, maintenance, and discard.  This paper will discuss Clovis technology and highlight some of the upcoming talks from the research staff at the Prehistory Research Project.


September 27th Thomas J. Williams

Blade manufacturing: The Other Clovis Technology

Twenty years ago, Michael Collins identified the presence of a core-and-blade industry within the Clovis technological spectrum. While now general accepted as part of Clovis stone tool manufacturing, blade and blade cores are often under researched. In contrast to the ad-hoc production of long, narrow flakes, Clovis technology demonstrates a specific production sequence to generate a series of regularized blades from prepared cores. This talk will focus on the Clovis assemblage from the Gault Archaeological Site and explore the blade cores themselves. By understanding and examining the reduction sequences, chaîne opératoire, and blade use, archaeologist can explore the larger implications of this core-and-blade industry.

October 4th  Alan M. Slade

Clovis Fluted Point Regional Variability: What’s the Point?

Clovis projectile points were long regarded as the hallmark of the first human presence in North America, although now there is considerable evidence of an ‘Older-Than-Clovis (OTC) technology present. Clovis groups spread rapidly across the continent during the end of the last Ice Age at around 11,500 14C BP / 13,300 Cal yrs leaving behind similar fluted projectile points in all 48 inland states of North America during a period of what could be as little as 250 years, going by the oldest dated Clovis site, to the youngest. As an archaeological culture Clovis portrays a range of variations in technology and the projectile point has often been the primary, if not only, diagnostic means of identifying a particular assemblage as being ‘Clovis’.

There is at present a real need for Clovis as a technological culture to be defined and until archaeologists and analysts agree on what is and what is not Clovis, there will always be a problem in definition due to the fact that some archaeologists and researchers call certain assemblages Clovis and others assign their projectiles to being ‘Clovis-like’, or in some cases assigning different culture or type such as Gainey, Ross County and St. Louis, even though they appear chronologically and technologically contemporaneous in the archaeological record.

A Clovis projectile point typology, defined by ‘stylistic variation’ may go some way in clarifying the issue. In this presentation I will identify and separate some of the variations within the projectile point assemblages from well documented and archaeologically recorded Clovis sites, some projectile points that are in private collections and selected isolated point discoveries will also be included.

November 1st  Sergio Ayala

Behavioral Perspectives on Clovis Biface Technology


Clovis technological behaviors orbit closely around a central design and production system but does contain variability. From both Clovis caches and Clovis sites, ovate bifaces, completed lanceolates, and refurbished lanceolates encompass a spectrum of Clovis behaviors that merit behavioral/technological analysis and experimental support. A preliminary review of examples from the broad physiographic regions of the US, the degree of observed variability, and the implications will be discussed.


November 8th  Nancy Velchoff M.Ph, CIG

Inventing the Clovis Bourgeois: Hyperbole and Periphery of the

 Clovis Overshot Flake


(Most People Will Never be Great at Intentional Overshot Flaking)

Overshot flakes and scars have long been considered diagnostic of Clovis biface technology even though there were few data to support the argument. Recent debates in Clovis biface technology raised issue against assumptions countering Clovis’ use of overshot flaking was unintentional. Traditional research approach to Clovis technology often focused on finished bifaces or projectile points, and thus only provided a myopic view of the manufacturing process.  An unusual love for waste flakes inspired a very different approach through reverse engineering to address several issues, specifically the overshot flaking problem.  The Gault Site — a quarry/campsite – was the ideal case study to conduct research on Clovis biface production where hundreds of thousands of manufacturing waste flakes and nearly 500 overshot flakes were recovered from Clovis contexts.  This presentation will discuss cracking the Clovis technology code and overshot flakes and reveal unexpected behavior patterns.  These unusual flakes served a dual-purpose during reduction phases, but an even bigger surprise was discovering evidence that Clovis knappers intentionally used overshot flaking as part of their technological repertoire.



On October 19, 2019, The Falls on the Colorado Museum will host its second Archeology Day program from 9:30 am until 3:30 pm.  This program will provide the public with a discussion of ongoing research in Texas archaeology.  The program will be followed by an artifact identification event (“show and tell”) during which local collectors and others can share their finds and obtain help in identifying specimens.

At 10 am, Dr. Thomas R. Hester will start program with a discussion of “Trade and  Technology: Ancient Stone Tools in Texas.”  Dr. Hester is Professor of Anthropology, emeritus, at UT-Austin, and serves as a member of the Board of Directors at the museum.

Following Dr. Hester will be Clint McKenzie, speaking on “Archaeology, Radiocarbon Dates and Summary of Black Vulture Rockshelter, Bandera County, Texas”.  Mr. McKenzie is working on his doctorate at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Following these two presentations, light refreshments will be available.

During the afternoon program, from 1-3:30, Dr. Hester and colleagues will help identify artifacts and discuss collections. Their only request is that large, cased collections be limited to one frame due to space.

The museum does not charge admission, but relies on donations from our visitors. Regular museum hours are Thursday through Saturday, from 10-4.  The museum is located at 2001 Broadway, Marble Falls.  Phone 830.798.2157.

Please visit our website:  




CATS Corner


We are pleased to introduce a component of the TARL family, the
Center for Archaeological and Tropical Studies (CATS). The CATS
research facility is primarily focused in tropical Central America,
but has research interests in broader regions of the neotropics.
This interdisciplinary research unit has been operating for several
decades with a sister facility in Belize, the Programme for Belize
Archaeological Project (PfBAP).  PfBAP research has been conducted on over 60 Maya sites within the research focus defined by the nature reserve covering 260,000 acres at the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area.

While this comment serves to Introduce CATS, forthcoming
newsletters will provide specific research interests and findings
of CATS as well as ongoing research right here at CATS Corner!
Serving as Director of CATS is Dr. Fred Valdez of the Department
of Anthropology (UT-Austin) and may be reached at