Kincaid Site

By: Michael B. Collins

Type: General Entry

Published: October 1, 1995

Kincaid Site (Kincaid Rockshelter, Kincaid Shelter, 41UV2) is an archeological site near the Sabinal River in Uvalde County consisting of a rockshelter and an open area in front of the shelter. Stratified deposits in both areas contained archeological materials attributable to most of the regional prehistoric sequence, and a small number of historic objects of late nineteenth and twentieth century age were found in the shelter. A great hole was dug in the center of the rockshelter sometime in the 1940s, evidently by treasure-hunters, because in December of 1947 three students (Charles E. Mear, David S. Proper, and James Churchwell) from Southwest Texas State Teachers College at San Marcos found the dirt from the hole to be rich in artifacts. Mear with occasional help from Kenneth Rochat recovered artifacts from that dirt over the next several months until, upon finding Folsom Points of Paleoindian age, he reported the site to professional archeologists. An excavation of the rockshelter portion of the site was mounted in 1948 by a team from the Texas Memorial Museum led by Elias H. Sellards and Glen L. Evans. Their work defined six geologic strata and an artificial stone pavement in the shelter. From the base upward these are: (Stratum 1) river silt in excess of 1.8 m thick without artifacts or fossils; (Stratum 2) another silt deposit 1 m thick without artifacts, but the fossilized jaw of an extinct horse was found; (Stratum 3) a deposit of clay 0.5 m thick, highly plastic when wet, that formed in a spring-fed pool and contained fossil bones of extinct mammoth, jaguar, another cat, ground sloth, horse, camel, bison, wolf, antelope, raccoon, alligator, and turtles; (Stone Pavement) a large quantity of boulders from the Sabinal River had been carefully placed across the top of the clay while it was still wet and plastic as evidenced by the stones being partly embedded in the clay; (Stratum 4) a layer of gritty clay rested directly on the stone pavement and contained a small number of stone artifacts as well as the bones of slider turtle, alligator, pocket mouse, badger, raccoon, box turtle, horse, and mammoth; (Stratum 5) a cultural midden deposit close to 1 m in average thickness composed of ashy, silty dust, fire-cracked rocks, broken and burned bones, mussel shells, and prehistoric artifacts; (Stratum 6) a 70 cm thick midden deposit of loose ashy dust, charcoal, burned rock, bone, shell, pottery, and various artifacts of stone from the prehistoric period as well as a few pieces of metal and glass of the early historic period. On top of stratum 6 at the time the shelter was investigated were several piles of disturbed fill that had been dug up by persons evidently in search of treasure thought to be buried in the shelter. These piles contained mixed artifacts of different ages.

Strata 1–3 are culturally sterile. The Stone Pavement and the artifacts in the lower part of Stratum 4 are identified as being of Clovis cultural affiliation. In the upper part of Stratum 4 Sellards and Evans found a partial skeleton of a fossilized bison believed to correspond to other bison bones and five Folsom points found in fill from the large treasure-hunters' pit. Stratum 5 artifacts are diagnostic of most of the long Archaic period, and Stratum 6 cultural materials belong predominantly to the Late Prehistoric and the Historic periods. Kincaid rockshelter provides important evidence that its Clovis occupants built the stone pavement, manufactured stone tools, and consumed a variety of large and small animals probably near 11,000 years ago. Among the Clovis artifacts is the base of a biface made of obsidian identified by trace-element analysis as originating in the state of Querétaro, Mexico, 1,000 km south of the site. A short time later, probably near 10,500 years ago, a bison wounded with at least five Folsom projectiles evidently died in the shelter but was not retrieved by the hunters who wounded it. Throughout the remainder of its estimated 9,000 years of intermittent occupations, deposits in the floor of the shelter accumulated slowly, and the leavings of each subsequent occupying group became mixed with those from early encampments. Thus, strata 5 and 6 provide comparatively minor archeological information.

Excavations in front of the rockshelter in 1953 were conducted as an archeological field school under auspices of the Department of Anthropology of the University of Texas and directed by Thomas N. Campbell. This work recovered relatively few artifacts, primarily of middle and late Archaic age, deeply buried in overbank flood deposits of the Sabinal River. Numerous radiocarbon dates have been determined on samples from the Kincaid Site, but the results generally have not been satisfactory. No comprehensive analysis has been conducted of the material from the Kincaid site, and no full report on the site exists. Archeological collections and records are housed at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, and faunal remains and records are housed at the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, both at the University of Texas at Austin.

Michael B. Collins, "The Archeological Sequence at Kincaid Rockshelter, Uvalde County, Texas," in Transactions of the 25th Regional Archeological Symposium for Southeastern New Mexico and Western Texas (Midland, Texas: Midland Archeological Society, 1990). Michael B. Collins et al., "Clovis Occupation at Kincaid Shelter, Texas," Current Research in the Pleistocene 6 (1989). Thomas R. Hester et al., "Trace Element Analysis of an Obsidian Paleo-Indian Projectile Point from Kincaid Rockshelter, Texas," Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 56 (1985). San Antonio Express Magazine, June 19, 1949.

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

Michael B. Collins, “Kincaid Site,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995