Levi Site

By: Michael B. Collins

Type: General Entry

Published: October 1, 1995

The Levi site (41TV49, Levi Rockshelter) is a shallow rockshelter in the valley of a small tributary of the Pedernales River in western Travis County. Excavations at the site conducted on three occasions (1959–60, 1974, and 1977) under the direction of Herbert L. Alexander, Jr., amassed considerable evidence for use of the shelter in Paleoindian times. However, the Paleo-Indian artifacts found do not seem to be in pristine stratigraphic contexts, many of them defy classification in the generally accepted regional typology, and radiocarbon dating has not been successful (based on snail and mussel shells). There were also Archaic and Late Prehistoric materials recovered, but these were not the focus of the investigations. A travertine deposit containing bone and flakes against the back wall is apparently the oldest deposit in the shelter, but it remains undated. It is followed by four stratigraphic zones designated I through V, from the base up. Zone I is composed largely of limestone fragments of the shelter roof ranging up to large boulder sizes. Quartz-rich sand also is present in Zone I, indicating backwater flooding from the Pedernales River. A sparse lithic assemblage and bones of deer, rabbit, extinct tapir, bison, dire wolf, horse, and other species were recovered from Zone I. Zone II also yielded bones of extinct animals including bison, peccary, and horse along with projectile points resembling Clovis and a radiocarbon date of 10,000 ± 175 years ago. Zone III consists of water-lain sand and contains relatively few artifacts and fossils. Zone IV is the principal cultural zone at the site, containing numerous artifacts, among which is a mix of projectile points styles resembling such late Paleo-Indian types as Angostura, Plainview, Lerma, and others. Radiocarbon dates range from 6750 ± 150 to 9300 ± 160 years B.P. Zone V is a dusty surficial zone containing later cultural remains. No single research question regarding American prehistory has received more attention than the issue of when the Americas were first peopled. The Clovis horizon, dated between approximately 10,900 and 11,200 radiocarbon years ago, is widely accepted as probably the earliest cultural manifestation in North America, but assemblages thought to be of earlier age are reported from time to time. These usually are controversial, and claims that the earliest levels at the Levi Site predate Clovis have not been accepted by archeologists working in the area.

Herbert L. Alexander, Jr., "The Levi Site: A Paleo-Indian Campsite in Central Texas," American Antiquity 28 (April 1963). Jonathon E. Ericson et al., eds., Peopling of the New World (Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 23, Los Altos, California, 1982). John W. Greer and Patricia A. Treat, "Incised and Painted Pebbles from the Levi Site, Travis County, Texas," Plains Anthropologist 20 (August 1975).

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

Michael B. Collins, “Levi Site,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/levi-site.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995