Category Archives: News & Outreach

TARL and BookPeople Book Talk

This week for Texas Archeology Month, we teamed up with our wonderful local independent bookstore, BookPeople, to do an online book talk! These book talks introduce readers to new books on a particular subject, so it was a perfect chance to share some of our favorite kids’ archeology books and other resources for learning about Texas archeology.

You can watch the book talk below, and be sure to check out BookPeople’s archeology reading list too! And, explore our past blog posts for more great educational content.

Texas Archeology Month 2020 Kicks Off!

Texas Archeology Month looks little different than usual this year, since our in-person events are cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But, that won’t stop us from bringing you tons of new and exciting Texas archeology updates and activities! Here’s one new way to connect with us:

TARL is now in Instagram!

Follow @ut_tarl for great photos, activities, and contests.

 

We also thought we’d introduce TARL to anyone who isn’t familiar with us! Former TARL staffer Lauren Bussiere (ahem, that’s me) sat down with Associate Director Jonathan Jarvis and Head of Collections Marybeth Tomka to talk about what’s new at TARL. Check out the video below!

Many thanks to Jonathan, Marybeth, and Annie, as well as to Tom Williams of the Prehistory Research Project, who recorded and edited this video.

Colors of the Past: Ceremonial Cave

Throughout this October for Texas Archeology Month, we’ll be releasing new coloring pages featuring some of the amazing artifacts in the TARL collections. This is a fun way for kids and adults alike to learn about prehistoric life and the archeology of Texas.

Our first featured site and collection is Ceremonial Cave! This cave site in West Texas was a special place where people left offerings over the course of more than 1,000 years. The deposits left in the cave were badly damaged by looters in the early 20th century, prompting archeologists to excavate the remaining areas of the cave. What they found remain some of the most incredible artifacts ever recorded in Texas.

Exotic materials like the turquoise in this bracelet, obsidian and abalone shell found in the cave show that some of the objects traveled a great distance before they were left as offerings. It is likely that people traveled to the cave from parts of what is now New Mexico and northern Mexico as well as from nearby villages.

Learn more about Ceremonial Cave on Texas Beyond History. 

Download the coloring page by clicking the text below:

Ceremonial Cave Coloring Page

 

Take a Hike this Texas Archeology Month

October is always beautiful in Texas, and no time is better to get outside and enjoy nature. Next time you visit your local park, try this fun family activity to learn more about prehistoric life in Texas.

The Take A Hike scavenger hunt encourages kids (of all ages) to engage with the natural world by imagining what life was like in prehistoric times. By visualizing ourselves in the shoes of people who lived here before us, we can gain an appreciation of traditional lifeways and learn to think about what people may have left behind–the clues archeologists use to piece together prehistoric cultures.

This activity comes with a worksheet for kids and a guide to help parents and educators lead a discussion. We hope you enjoy it!

Download by clicking the link below:

Take A Hike

Illustration of Native American woman gathering plant foods by Ken Brown

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 dariegert@utexas.edu

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:

https://www.thc.texas.gov/preserve/projects-and-programs/texas-archeology-month.

 

 

 

 

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

(translated)

(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.

 

Texas Archeology Month Fair 2018

RAIN UPDATE:

We are NOT cancelling this event due to rain! Instead, we are moving the event inside to the Commons Learning Center (the purple building on the map below).

It’s that time again! TARL is planning our annual Texas Archeology Month Fair! This year’s Fair will take place on International Archeology Day, October 20, 2018.

Join us in the Commons Learning Center 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!

The Texas Archeology Month Fair brings together dozens of professional and avocational archeologists from across Texas, who lead a wide variety of hands-on educational activities and demonstrations on many different archaeological topics. 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
  • Sandal weaving
  • Fire drilling
  • Flintknapping
  • Atlatl and rabbit sticks (prehistoric hunting techniques)
  • Painted pebbles
  • Rock art
  • Historic button-making
  • Face painting
  • And many more!

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

This year’s donors include:

Louis Shanks of Austin

TARL’s event partners include:

  • UT’s Anthropological Society
  • UT’s Anthropology department
  • UT’s Classics department
  • UT’s Mesoamerican Center
  • The Texas Archeological Society
  • The Texas State History Museum
  • Great Promise for American Indians
  • TxDOT
  • The Travis County Archeological Society
  • The Llano Uplift Archeologial Society
  • The American Institute for Archaeology, Central Texas chapter
  • Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology program
  • The Sophienburg Museum
  • The Gault School of Archaeological Research
  • The Shumla Archaeological Research and Education Center
  • Texas Military Forces
  • The Council of Texas Archeologists
  • The Texas Historical Commission
  • The Lower Colorado River Authority
  • 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 lauren.bussiere@utexas.edu.

Texas State’s Forensic Anthropology team shows these young researchers how to document their finds at the 2017 Texas Archeology Month Fair.

 

TARL Symposium at TAS and Other Upcoming Conferences

A number of TARL staff members, former student interns, and researchers will be presenting their research at the Texas Archeological Society’s Annual Meeting in San Antonio October 26 – 27, 2018. We will have approximately 12 presentations on a variety of topics: painted pebbles, experimental flintknapping, public outreach, collections rehabilitation, independent student research, and more. We are excited to present this research, and to hear feedback on our work from the community!

Beyond the upcoming symposium, we are busy keeping abreast of all things curatorial going on around the nation. In addition to attending local society meetings like those of the Travis County Archeological Society (TCAS) and TAS, TARL staff members will be attending several conferences in spring 2019. In January 2019, TARL Head of Collections Marybeth Tomka will be part of a round table discussion on standards of cataloguing for repositories at the Society for Historical Archaeology’s Annual Meeting in Saint Charles, Missouri. Marybeth serves as a member of the Curation and Collections Committee.

Marybeth and TARL Curatorial Associate Lauren Bussiere also plan to present a poster at the Society for American Archaeology meetings in Albuquerque, New Mexico in April 2019. The committee on Collections, Museums and Curation is sponsoring the poster session, the goal of which is to encourage and facilitate collections-based research by building relationships and sharing knowledge. Marybeth is a former member of this committee and still keeps up with their activities and sits in on their meetings when possible. An offshoot of the committee is the formation of the Curation Interest Group that Marybeth co-chairs.

Additional papers will be presented at the 2019 SAA meeting by Lauren (on the topic of pseudoarchaeology), TARL Curatorial Technician Annie Riegert (bioarchaeology in Belize), and TARL Affiliated Researcher Nadya Prociuk (shell ornaments and tools from south Texas). We welcome all colleagues and interested parties to check out our presentations, give us feedback, and share their research with us!

TARL Visits ORPL

At the end of the summer, TARL brought students and volunteers on a field trip to visit the Osteological Research and Processing Laboratory (ORPL) at Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology Research Facility. ORPL is the main laboratory where students and staff process human remains from both their regular donation program and their Operation ID program. Operation ID (also known as OpID) is a collaborative effort between the forensic anthropologists at Texas State, the Border Patrol and other law enforcement, landowners in south Texas, various NGOs, and other state, federal, and international agencies who work together to find, identify, and repatriate the remains of individuals who have died attempting to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. ORPL also processes the remains of people who have chosen to donate their bodies after death, which are used for many purposes from longitudinal studies of decomposition to law enforcement training.

By visiting ORPL, TARL’s students and volunteers were able to learn about these amazing projects and gain some first-hand insights into the work and training of forensic anthropologists and bioarchaeologists. While this work is often difficult both physically and emotionally, it is also extremely meaningful and important. Through the work of the ORPL team, many families have been able to learn the fates of their missing loved ones–although these stories are tragic, families can finally lay their loved ones to rest. The OpID project also demonstrates the capacity for meaningful and productive collaboration between these various agencies, and what they can accomplish working together toward a shared goal.

Thank you very much to the Texas State Forensic Anthropology team and especially to Courtney Siegert and Chloe McDaneld for hosting us and sharing their extensive knowledge.

TARL Staff, students, and volunteers in front of the ORPL Facility at Texas State’s Freeman Ranch.

Texas Archeology Month Fair 2018

RAIN UPDATE:

We are NOT cancelling this event due to rain! Instead, we are moving the event inside to the Commons Learning Center (the purple building on the map below).

It’s that time again! TARL is planning our annual Texas Archeology Month Fair! This year’s Fair will take place on International Archeology Day, October 20, 2018.

Join us on the main 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!

The Texas Archeology Month Fair brings together dozens of professional and avocational archeologists from across Texas, who lead a wide variety of hands-on educational activities and demonstrations on many different archaeological topics. 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
  • Sandal weaving
  • Fire drilling
  • Flintknapping
  • Atlatl and rabbit sticks (prehistoric hunting techniques)
  • Painted pebbles
  • Rock art
  • Historic button-making
  • Face painting

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

This year’s donors include:

TARL’s event partners include:

  • UT’s Anthropological Society
  • UT’s Anthropology department
  • UT’s Classics department
  • UT’s Mesoamerican Center
  • The Texas Archeological Society
  • The Texas State History Museum
  • Great Promise for American Indians
  • TxDOT
  • The Travis County Archeological Society
  • The Llano Uplift Archeologial Society
  • The American Institute for Archaeology, Central Texas chapter
  • Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology program
  • The Sophienburg Museum
  • The Gault School of Archaeological Research
  • The Shumla Archaeological Research and Education Center
  • Texas Military Forces
  • The Council of Texas Archeologists
  • The Texas Historical Commission
  • Many individual volunteers

TARL is looking for general volunteers to assist presenters and help with set-up and clean-up. To volunteer, please email lauren.bussiere@utexas.edu.

Texas State’s Forensic Anthropology team shows these young researchers how to document their finds at the 2017 Texas Archeology Month Fair.