Kyle Rockshelter

By: Edward B. Jelks

Type: General Entry

Published: February 1, 1995

Kyle Rockshelter, a stratified prehistoric archeological site near the Brazos River in Hill County, now under the waters of Lake Whitney, was partially excavated in 1959 and 1960 by E. B. Jelks and the Texas Archaeological Salvage Project, with assistance from members of the Dallas Archeological Society. It takes its name from Albert C. Kyle, later manager of the Steiner Valley Ranch, on which the site is located. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the shelter was occupied about A.D. 550 to 800 by peoples of the Austin Phase, and between 1300 and 1550 by peoples of the Toyah Phase, with the possibility of a Toyah-Austin transition period around A.D. 1200. The site is important in the development of Central Texas prehistorical research for two reasons: it confirmed unequivocally a temporal separation between the Austin and Toyah phases that had been suggested by the 1952 excavations at the Blum Rockshelter, fifteen miles to the north; and it served as a major source of data for the first definitive description of the Austin and Toyah phases. Close temporal control was possible because the deposits in the shelter were clearly stratified into six major strata, excavated as units.

Among the artifacts recovered were numerous arrow and dart points, some knives, scrapers, drills, painted pebbles, bone awls, a few potsherds, and-a rarity in Central Texas-several perishable artifacts of wood and fiber, including fragments of arrows, bits of twisted cordage, and scraps of both coiled and twilled basketry. Features recorded were about thirty hearths of varying sizes and shapes, a bison skull, a flexed adult female burial, a flexed child burial, a cremated burial, and an arrangement consisting of alternate layers of cedar branches, grass, and cottonwood bark. The artifacts and field records from work at the Kyle Rockshelter are stored at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, J. J. Pickle Research Campus, the University of Texas at Austin.

Edward B. Jelks, The Kyle Site (Austin: University of Texas Department of Anthropology, 1962).
  • Archeology
  • Land Sites

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

Edward B. Jelks, “Kyle Rockshelter,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 02, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995