Wilson-Leonard Site

By: Michael B. Collins and Frank A. Weir

Type: General Entry

Published: January 1, 1996

The Wilson-Leonard site (Marjorie Ashcroft Wilson Archaeological Preserve) is on Brushy Creek in southern Williamson County. Archeologists with the Texas Department of Transportation recorded the site in 1973, conducted limited test excavations in 1981, and carried out a major excavation from January 1982 through April 1984, all under the direction of Frank A. Weir. A second major excavation was conducted by archeologists with the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory in 1992 under the direction of Michael B. Collins. The site occurs as multiple cultural levels buried in layers of natural valley fill, which accumulated to a thickness of six meters (19.5 feet) over approximately the last 12,000 years. This is the most complete cultural sequence at any single site in central Texas and one of the more complete in North America. Chronological control is based on more than seventy radiocarbon dates. Deepest in the site is a sparse cultural assemblage assignable to the Clovis horizon. Above this is a bone bed of extinct bison with a small assemblage of artifacts, including an engraved stone, resembling those of Folsom affiliation. Radiocarbon dating places both of these assemblages at greater than 11,000 years ago. An unexpectedly early (ca. 10,000 to 9,600 B.P.) component of Archaic character is found stratigraphically isolated above the Folsom-like component. This zone has hearths, a human burial, and pits. The artifact assemblage includes corner-notched dart points and a variety of other tools common to generalized Archaic cultures of North America. Remains of small animals occur in this zone. This component has taken the name Wilson from this site. Overlying the Wilson component is a sequence of at least three late Paleo-Indian components defined by various unfluted, lanceolate dart point styles (Golondrina, Barber, St. Mary's Hall, and Angostura). Bison bones are present in the lower of these three components; hearths are associated with all three. Dates range from ca. 9600 to 8100 B.P. for this part of the sequence. In the uppermost physical stratum at the site are found artifacts diagnostic of the entire central Texas Archaic sequence. This begins in the earliest Archaic with the construction of multiple, large, stone-lined earth ovens, ca. 8,000 B.P. So much rock was utilized in these early Archaic ovens that the resultant deposit resembles that of burned rock middens, which are characteristic of the middle Archaic. Continued use of the site by early Archaic to early middle Archaic peoples (6,000 to 4,000 B.P.) differed in that fewer, smaller hearth features were constructed. Large burned rock middens, at least three and possibly five in number, characterize the site's middle and late Archaic deposits of ca. 4,000 to 2,000 years ago. Utilization of the site continued without further build up of burned rock middens until ca. 800 years ago. To date only brief notes have been published on the site, but a comprehensive monograph integrating findings from all phases of investigation at the site will be published. Records and collections are housed at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin.

Michael B. Collins et al., "The Paleoindian Sequence at the Wilson-Leonard Site, Texas," Current Research in the Pleistocene 10 (1993). Marilyn A. Masson and Michael B. Collins, "The Wilson-Leonard Site (41WM235)," Cultural Resource Management News and Views 7 (1995).
  • Archeology
  • Land Sites

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

Michael B. Collins and Frank A. Weir, “Wilson-Leonard Site,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wilson-leonard-site.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1996