Garza Site

By: Frank A. Runkles

Type: General Entry

Published: January 1, 1995

The Garza Site, a Neo-American campsite located about sixteen miles south of Post, Garza County, was excavated in 1959 by members of the South Plains Archeological Society, under the general direction of F. Earl Green and David H. Kelley of the Texas Tech University Museum. The actual fieldwork, however, was supervised by Frank A. Runkles and Emmett Shedd. The site lies along a small intermittent stream on the headwaters of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River. The occupation zone was overlain by some forty inches of sterile soil in the only terrace of a shallow and narrow valley. This zone had been exposed and partly removed by erosion.

Excavation of the small Garza Site yielded 238 artifacts that included tubular bone beads, bone awls, wolf-tooth pendants, chipped-stone knives, scrapers, choppers, drills, and arrowpoints, including a point defined as a new type, Garza. Ten occupational features were found. Most were stone hearths containing an abundance of well-preserved wood charcoal. One feature was an accumulation of almost 8,000 small flint chips and broken arrowpoints and portions of two bison leg bones. The largest flakes were about one-half inch in diameter. The majority were so small that they could be recovered only by taking out blocks of clay and dissolving the clay with water on a fine screen. Another feature was a concentration of bison bone pieces and splinters arranged into a circular pile and surrounded on three sides by small, well-placed stones, three stones to the side. The bone pile measured twelve inches in diameter. The squared arrangement of stones measured twenty-two inches across. This treatment of bison bones may suggest some form of "bison spirit" worship. A similar arrangement of bones, but without stones, was recorded as another feature. No other artifacts were directly associated with either accumulation.

A total of sixty-seven bison teeth and mandible fragments were found scattered throughout the occupational level. Incisors were quite numerous and, interestingly, none was intact in the mandible. Perhaps they may have served as simple cutting tools. In addition to the teeth and jaw fragments, the excavation recovered 2,026 pieces of bison bone, most of which had been broken into splinters of various size, apparently by pounding. Indications are that most of the bone came from the legs of eight individuals.

Fifty-five arrowpoints were recovered during the excavation. Twenty-seven are of unidentified triangular form, and most are broken or have an unfinished appearance. Eighty-two percent are fragmentary, a condition that suggests they may have been only an intermediate step in the production of other points. Fifteen triple-notched arrowpoints can be classified as the Harrell type. Thirteen triangular points, each of which has a centrally placed basal notch, are of the new Garza type. Both the lateral edges and the bases vary from straight to concave.

All of the arrowpoints found in the excavation range from two to six centimeters in length, one to two centimeters in width, and .2 to .3 centimeters in thickness. One Garza point is of obsidian. All other chipped stone artifacts are of local flints and chert which, in the form of smoothed stream pebbles, are abundant at the site. Evidence from this site indicates that the Garza type is associated primarily with the triple-notched Harrell points, and not with the Washita type, which is only side-notched.

Although the Garza Site was the type site for Garza points, no radiocarbon dates were obtained at the time of excavation. F. Earl Green suggested, on the basis of his work at the Lubbock Lake National Historic and State Archeological Landmark, that the date for the Garza point level at the Garza Site is prior to A.D. 1635. Johnson states that Garza points appear to be contemporaneous with the Apache occupation of the area and that there is likely a relationship between Garza points and Apache culture.

Another site, the Lott Site, containing components like those found at the Garza Site has been excavated less than a mile away. Radiocarbon determinations there have dated the Garza occupational level at A.D. 1440 and 1500.

Eileen Johnson et al., "The Garza Occupation at the Lubbock Lake Site," Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 48 (1977). Frank A. Runkles, "The Garza Site" Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 35 (1964).
  • Archeology
  • Land Sites

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

Frank A. Runkles, “Garza Site,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995