Pavo Real Site

By: Jerry Henderson

Type: General Entry

Published: May 1, 1995

The Pavo Real site (41BX52) is a stratified multicomponent site on the east bank of Leon Creek near Loop 1604 in northwest San Antonio. Excavation by the Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation from June 1979 through January 1980 revealed Archaic (7000 B.C.-A.D. 500) and Paleo-Indian (12000–7000 B.C.) occupations at the site. The upper, Archaic strata contained Early, Middle, and Late Archaic materials. These deposits were somewhat mixed, a fair amount of sheetwash and erosion having occurred at the site during Archaic and recent times. However, the buried Paleo-Indian zone was an intact stratigraphic unit, isolated both above and below by alluvial graphic deposits. This discrete zone occurred at an average of fifty to seventy centimeters below the present-day ground surface and averaged fifteen to twenty centimeters in thickness. An estimated 98 percent of the deposit containing Paleo-Indian artifacts was excavated.

The finds, which included projectile points, scrapers, chips left over from tool-making, utilized flakes, and other flint artifacts, numbered into the thousands. Seven Folsom points, two Clovis points, and one probable fragment from the base of a Clovis point were recovered, as well as at least six Folsom point preforms. The most numerous single tool type was the snub-nosed scraper, of which at least forty specimens were recovered. One bison-tooth fragment, three small unidentifiable bone fragments, and a highly fragmented freshwater mussel shell were the only faunal remains recovered from the Paleo-Indian zone. The fact that Clovis and Folsom artifacts existed at the same elevations indicates that the inhabited surface was a very stable one throughout the Paleo-Indian Period. Because of this, it was possible for more than one cultural group to occupy the site without a change in the living floor.

The Paleo-Indian occupation extended along the eastern bank of Leon Creek for about fifty-eight meters. Sandwiched between an old creek channel to the west and a small limestone shelf to the east, the occupation was only an average of ten meters in width. The limestone shelf or bench to the east contained flint nodules eroded from the bedrock surface, and this flint outcrop was the source of the raw material from which the Paleo-Indian artifacts were manufactured. Proximity to water and the availability of an abundant flint source were probably critical factors in determining the occupation of the site.

Franklin Barnett, Dictionary of Prehistoric Indian Artifacts of the American Southwest (Flagstaff, Arizona: Northland Press, 1973). Lynne A. Biesaart, Prehistoric Archaeological Sites in Texas: A Statistical Overview (Office of the State Archeologist Special Report 28 [Austin: Texas Historical Commission, 1985]).

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

Jerry Henderson, “Pavo Real Site,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995