14,000-year-old Texas archaeological site believed to be oldest home in North America

‘When they found a good spot to live, they stayed awhile,’ expert says

Area 12 of the Gault site under excavation (The Gault School of Archaeological Research)

AUSTIN, Texas – Did you know that the oldest known house in North America is located in Central Texas?

It’s located in the valley at Gault, roughly 40 miles north of Austin, and is estimated to be around 14,000 years old, or perhaps even older, according to Clark Wernecke, the executive director of the Gault School of Archaeological Research.

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Wernecke told KSAT that the structure was probably wood at the time it was build and that trees were likely used for the corners.

It’s suspected that the builder gathered baskets of gravel from a nearby creek and then poured them inside the structure to raise the floor off the clay which the area is mostly comprised of.

“They were addressing the same concern we do when we put down a groundsheet before erecting a tent,” said Wernecke. “The floor is roughly 7′ X 9′ and 4 inches thick with artifacts in and around it that indicate it had a front and back and is, therefore, a structure.”

Several structures in Colorado date back to an estimated 11-12,000 years ago and at a site near Puerto Montt, Chile there are several structures that Wernecke said are thought to be about 14,800 years old.

“This is not something you construct if you are just here overnight, a tent or lean-to would do for that. This is yet another indication that the earliest peoples in the Americas were not the highly-migratory big game hunters we were taught about in elementary school but broad-spectrum hunters and gatherers,” Wernecke said. “They ate what was available and, when they found a great spot to live, they stayed a while.”

The Gault site is located on private property and access to the public is prohibited without permission. Tours can be arranged through the Williamson County Museum and Bell County Museum.

Virtual tours of the site can be taken here.


About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.