Each October, Texas Archeology Month celebrates the state’s history and heritage through the lens of archeology. What started decades ago as a relatively small weeklong celebration, could not remain diminutive—not in the Lone Star State! The commemoration has grown into one of the biggest, if not the biggest, state celebrations of archeology in the country.
Throughout the month, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) and partners across the state provide hands-on activities and host commemorative events such as archeology fairs, demonstrations, presentations, museum exhibits, and walking tours.
Archeological societies, county historical commissions, museums, and other groups will host a multitude of events this October—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 relies on its partners in the Texas Archeological Society and Council of Texas Archeologists as Texas Archeology Month co-sponsors.
The featured event this month is the 2023 Archeology Fair at the THC’s 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.
State and local partners will provide hands-on activities and demonstrations, take-home activity kits, museum tours and special exhibits, lectures and presentations, history walks, and more family-friendly activities.
One of the most popular activities at the annual Archeology Fair is the 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 favorite activity is the hands-on pinch-pot kits, which allow participants of all ages to experience one of the oldest pottery techniques in the world (learn more below).
These and many other activities such as flintknapping demonstrations will be presented by partner agencies and organizations, including Bastrop Independent School District, the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University, Generation Serve, Horizon Environmental Services, the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Archeological Society, Texas Beyond History, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Texas Science and Natural History Museum.
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.