Horn Shelter Number Two

By: Robert E. Forrester and Albert J. Redder

Type: General Entry

Published: November 1, 1995

Updated: November 9, 2020

The archeological site known as Horn Shelter No. 2 is on the west bank of the Brazos River between Waco and Lake Whitney. It is a rockshelter formed by erosion in Cretaceous limestone and is 150 feet long and up to 30 feet wide. It opens toward the east and is 60 feet from the river. The bedrock floor is about 15 feet above the normal river level. Up to 22 feet of stratified fill has accumulated under the shelter. Excavation in the south end was begun in the spring of 1966 by Frank H. Watt and Albert J. Redder of Waco. Robert E. Forrester and L. T. Francis of Fort Worth began work on the north end in the fall of 1968. By the fall of 1990 the excavation had been completed, and as of 1995 no further excavations had been conducted since that time.

Cultural debris in the shelter spans time from the Paleo-Indian period of at least 10,000 years ago to the Prohibition period of the 1930s. The earliest identified culture at the site is the Folsom, identified by three Folsom points. A large unidentified dart point was found slightly deeper than the Folsom. Flint, split animal bones, and a fire hearth also indicate this early culture. Debris characteristic of the Clovis culture was found, but no Clovis points. Above the Folsom and separated from it is a point type defined by Watt as the Brazos Fishtail. Most archeologists consider these to be San Patrice. Above this is a Plainview occupation. Later than the Plainview is an Archaic period stratum overlain by a deposit of Late Prehistoric artifacts. By A.D. 1410 the whole shelter was capped with a three-foot-deep red sand deposit, part of which was later removed by Whites who subsequently lived in the shelter.

In the Paleo-Indian period deposit was a burial of two individuals, an adult male and a juvenile, interred together in a shallow grave and covered with soil and stone slabs. Under the head of the adult was an array of grave offerings-seashell beads, turtle carapaces, flint-knapping tools, red ocher, small slabs of sandstone, flint, and perforated canid teeth. With the juvenile was a small-eyed bone needle. Radiocarbon assays from this stratum have yielded dates of 9,500±200 years B.P. to 10,310±150 years B.P. Charred bones found around hearths under the shelter indicate a heavy dependence on small game, though bison bones have been found in deposits in front of the shelter.

The overlying Archaic period deposit was excavated in twelve-inch levels. By 1983 forty different dart-point types had been identified from a total of more than 1,000 points recovered. A preliminary evaluation indicated that most of the points belonged to the Central Texas Archaic, though some materials were indicative of East Texas Archaic cultures. Other Archaic materials included bone fishhooks, flaking tools, and awls; red and yellow ochre; manos; metates fragments; scrapers, drills, and bifaces; sandstone paint grinders; and needle hones. Four burials were found. Food remains included mussel shells, deer and bison bones, turtle and fish remains, bird and reptile bones, and great numbers of snail shells and small mammal bones.

The top of the Archaic stage and the beginning of the Late Prehistoric was not demarked by visible stratigraphy. A number of dart points of various types were found at this level. The most recent Indian occupation at Horn No. 2 bore evidence of the Toyah horizon and was dated by charcoal radiocarbon at A.D. 1410±130, corrected. One child's burial was found, dug in from the Toyah levels. It bore a wristlet or rattle of turtle leg bones, and had a shell effigy of a beaver on the upper chest. In 1995 arrangements were in progress for most of the material and data from Horn Shelter No. 2 to be curated at the Strecker Museum at Baylor University. A complete and final report of the North Unit was being produced as one of the Strecker Museum's Occasional Papers.

Frank H. Watt, "Radiocarbon Chronology of Sites in the Central Brazos Valley," Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 49 (1978).

  • Archeology
  • Land Sites

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

Robert E. Forrester and Albert J. Redder, “Horn Shelter Number Two,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/horn-shelter-number-two.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1995
November 9, 2020