October is Texas Archeology Month! (Fall 2023)

A little girl and a clay pot
A little girl shows off her pinch pot. Photo credit: Michelson Museum of Art

Past Matters Fall 2023; posted on 10/12/2023

Each October, Texas Archeology Month provides an opportunity for Texans to appreciate the depth and richness of our heritage through the lens of archeology. Across the state, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) and partners provide hands-on activities and host commemorative events such as archeology fairs, demonstrations, presentations, museum exhibits, and walking tours.

The THC coordinates the statewide celebration and encourages partners in archeology and historic preservation to organize Texas Archeology Month events and programming. Partners include archeological societies, county historical commissions, museums, state agencies, and other groups—with support from a legion of volunteers, many of them members of the THC’s archeological stewardship program, a statewide network of avocational archeologists who assist the THC’s small staff of archeologists. The THC also relies on its partners in the Texas Archeological Society and Council of Texas Archeologists as Texas Archeology Month co-sponsors.

The Texas Archeology Month Calendar of Events is hosted on the THC website, and features dozens of events, many at THC state historic sites. One of those is the 2023 Archeology Fair at the French Legation State Historic Site in Austin on Sunday, October 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free to the public.

The fair brings together historic sites, university programs, local societies, state agencies, private companies, and schools to showcase how archeology can be used to teach across cultures and disciplines. It features demonstrations such as flintknapping and interactive activities such as the popular atlatl throw, where visitors eagerly wait in line for their turn to try a prehistoric device that propels a hunting spear much farther than the human arm alone.

Another special event is the Foundations of the Republic archeology tours at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, where visitors can experience a once-in-a-lifetime excavation of the remains of the town of Washington. Guided walking tours of ongoing archeological work will be offered to the public several times throughout the month. The 30–45-minute tours will take place at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in October.

Visitors will learn about the archeological process and the history of the early to mid-19th century townsite during active archeological excavations at 11 building locations. Project goals are to uncover various buried building remains and then perform analysis on what is anticipated to be a large number of artifacts. Guests will get to speak with archeologists and visit the field lab to see what has been uncovered.

During the height of the pandemic, when in-person events were mostly canceled, the THC began distributing free, interactive archeology activity kits across the state. The pinch-pot kits come with everything needed to learn about, make, and decorate a “pinch pot”—a simple pottery technique used by early Texans and other cultures for thousands of years. They have been popular among primary schools, homeschool groups, and local archeology and history organizations, and the THC has responded by increasing the number of kits distributed each year—up to 10,000 in 2023.

Pinch-pot kits are available for pick up at many THC state historic sites and participating museums during October. Find locations near you, as well as additional events across the state, free resources, volunteer opportunities, and more at thc.texas.gov/tam.