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At Area 15 (pictured), researchers found stone tools fashioned in the signature Clovis style.But several centimeters below that, an abundance of new material appeared — including human teeth.It was those finds that Wernecke and his colleagues went to investigate further, when they began working at the Gault site in 2002.“At the time, we were interested in Clovis, and we had no idea of anything earlier there,” he said.(Photo courtesy The Gault School of Archaeological Research) The team kept digging, and about 1 meter below the pavement and the Clovis tools, they found nine more flakes of shaped stone, along with a scattering of animal bones.Assuming that material found below the Clovis pavement must be older than Clovis, the researchers were intrigued. “In Area 12, you have the pavement, lithics and bone, and not much else,” Wernecke said.
The first part, known as Area 12, revealed an unusual “pavement” constructed out of cobbles buried deep beneath the surface.“All seem to agree well.” The discovery of all of these older-than-Clovis artifacts raises tantalizing questions about what that earlier culture was like, and how it compared to the Clovis culture.According to Wernecke, the pre-Clovis tools suggest that their makers were likely direct predecessors of the Clovis.About a half-hour north of Austin and a meter deep in water-logged silty clay, researchers have uncovered evidence of human occupation dating back as much as 16,700 years, including fragments of human teeth and more than 90 stone tools.In addition to being some of the oldest yet found in the American West, the artifacts are rare traces of a culture that predated the culture known as Clovis, whose distinctively shaped stone tools found across North America have consistently been dated to about 13,000 years ago.