Heritage, Volume 14, Number 1, Winter 1996 Page: 11
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are highly visible in the Wilson-Leonard
profile (See below). Deposits deep in the
site that contain Paleoindian artifacts are
almost completely devoid of fire cracked
rock before about 10,000 years ago. At that
time, small rock-lined fireplaces debut.
Upper deposits where Archaic remains
occur are laden with fire cracked rock. The
large rock-lined earth oven seen in profile
in the figure below is among the oldest
known in Texas, dated by radiocarbon to
8,000 years ago. This oven contained a
number of charred wild hyacinth bulbs.
A highly successful and versatile mode
of subsistence emerged at the beginning of
the Archaic and lasted until around 800
years ago. At the heart .of this adaptation
was development of the technology to cook
various high-starch foods in large quantity.
Archaeologists have long been aware that
prehistoric sites in Central Texas are usually
littered with tons of fire-cracked limestone
rocks, but the significance of this
pattern has only begun to be recognized.
Central Texas plant communities
grade from live oak savanna on the east to
semi-desert scrub on the west. In times of
moister climate, the live oak savanna probably
extended farther west, and when it was
drier, the more xeric plant communities
spread farther to the east. Among the plants
in both of these communities are highstarch
species that are relatively abundant
The large rock-lined
earth oven at (the
is among the oldest
known in Texas, dated
by radiocarbon to
8,000 years ago.
and, when and only when thoroughly
cooked, can become a dietary staple. Xeric
plant foods are the desert succulents such
as sotol and lechuguilla; savanna forms
include oak acorns, wild onions, and the
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A portion of the wall of the excavation dug by archaeologists with the Texas Department of Transportation in 1983 at the Wilson-Leonard site. Near the base of
the excavation unit is a small stone-lined fireplace dated to about 10,000 years ago. Midway up the profile is a large earth oven seen in cross-section. This oven
is dated to about 8,000 years ago and contained the charred remains of wild hyacinth bulbs. Photo courtesy Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory, The University
of Texas at Austin.
HERITAGE * WINTER 1996 11
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 14, Number 1, Winter 1996, periodical, Winter 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45404/m1/11/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.