Gault Site

By: Michael B. Collins

Type: General Entry

Published: September 1, 1995

The Gault Site (41BL323) in southernmost Bell County was first investigated in 1929 by Professor James E. Pearce of the University of Texas, who mistakenly recorded the site as being in Williamson County. Early work at the site, which occurs in the proximity of several springs, revealed the great extent of archeological deposits. Artifacts typical of Archaic and Late Prehistoric cultures of the area were found in abundance. Over the next six decades relic collectors destroyed much of the site, occasionally bringing finds to the attention of archeologists. Among these finds have been Paleo-Indian and numerous early Archaic artifacts. Since 1990 investigations in a small area near one of the springs have brought to light at least twenty-one small weathered cobbles of limestone with elaborate engravings on their weathered surfaces, apparently associated with Clovis points dating to about 11,200 B.P. These investigations have been partly by avocational archeologists. A very limited excavation in 1991 by Thomas R. Hester and Michael B. Collins of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, the University of Texas at Austin, recovered six fragmentary engraved stones and clearly documented the deposits from which they came. Some clearly came from an in situ deposit in which was found a Clovis point. Age-diagnostic artifacts found in the same deposits indicate that these are of early Paleo-Indian age, possibly Clovis. Records and collections from the 1991 excavations by Hester and Collins as well as collections from Pearce's 1929 excavation are housed at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory. Notations on a few other artifacts from the site are to be found in the same repository. The engraving consists of fine lines evidently produced with sharp-edged stone flakes. Many of the stones are encrusted with calcium carbonate leaving the engravings only partially visible. Since the parent stone is soft limestone, itself calcium carbonate, no fool-proof method of exposing these designs for study has been identified and the full range of designs is imperfectly known. Straight lines predominate. Parallel line sets intersect similar sets at various angles to form rectilinear or diamond-shaped grids as the most common motifs. More complex patterns of intersecting straight and curving lines occur on some stones; an animal seems to be depicted as part of one of these. One stone has an array of diamond-shaped motifs at the ends of straight or jointed lines, forming a plant-like image. One very similar stone has been found in Folsom-age deposits at each of two other sites, the Wilson-Leonard site in Williamson County, Texas, and the Blackwater Draw site in Roosevelt County, New Mexico. These two plus the twenty-one engraved stones now known from the Gault site constitute the earliest securely dated engravings in North America.

Michael B. Collins et al., "Engraved Cobbles from Early Archaeological Contexts in Central Texas," Current Research in the Pleistocene 8 (1991). Michael B. Collins et al., "Engraved Cobbles from the Gault Site, Central Texas," Current Research in the Pleistocene 9 (1992). Thomas R. Hester et al., "Paleo-Indian Engraved Stones from the Gault Site," La Tierra 19 (1992).
  • Archeology
  • Land Sites

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

Michael B. Collins, “Gault Site,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995