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Doug Owsley, Ph.D. Lecture

Ancient Treasures:

Kennewick Man and the Horn Shelter


Many people and visitors to the county do not realize that man has always lived in Bosque County. The oldest known inhabitant in Bosque County, and many think in Texas, is the Horn Shelter Man found in a rock shelter beside the Brazos River in Bosque County. The remains in this ancient burial site are one of thirteen in the United States dating back 11,500 years.  The burial is only one of three having a complete set of human bones, and is the only one with an extensive array of burial goods.  The burial is truly unique.

The site was first discovered in 1970 by two avocational archeologists Albert Redder and Frank Watt. The site quickly captured the interest of nationally known archeologists and the Smithsonian.  The bones and artifacts are so old and unique that they have been declared a national historic treasure by the Smithsonian.  The burial goods and bones are now housed in the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History.

On Friday, October 17, at 4:00 pm the Bosque Museum will host a lecture by Dr. Douglas Owsley, the world famous physical anthropologist at the Smithsonian’s  Museum of Natural History. The lecture will be on the occasion of the publication of his long-awaited, monumental scientific publication entitled the Kennewick Man: The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton. Published by Texas A&M Press, the book is the most complete analysis of an ancient American and the initial peopling of America. In his book he compares the Horn Shelter Man with the Kennewick man and their differences and similarities are discussed.

Owsley’s  book offers evidence of an ancient population of seafarers who were probably the original settlers of America. They did not look like Native Americans. The few remains we have of these ancient people show they had longer, narrower skulls with smaller faces.  Whoever these mysterious people were, they have long sense disappeared.

Kennewich Man and the Horn Shelter Man do not appear to belong to any living population.  Judging from the shape of Kennewick Man’s  skull and bones, the closest living relatives appear to be the Moriori people of Chatham Island, a remote archipelago 420 miles southeast of New Zealand, as well as the mysterious Ainu people of Japan.

The Moriori and Ainu apparently descended from the same ancient group of people that would later spread out over the Pacific and give rise to modern-day Polynesians.  These first people were maritime hunter-gatherer along the North Pacific coast and their descendents include the ancient Jomon, the original inhabitants of the Japanese Islands.

Owsley believes the coastal migrations by these ancient mariners represent the first wave of migration to North America. There were then later waves of people who gave rise to the Indians as we know them today.

Dr. Owsley will present these findings and other interesting observations in his lecture on Friday afternoon, October 17, at 4:00 pm at the Bosque Museum.  Seating will be limited to 120 people.  There is no fee but reservations must be made prior to the event. Reservations may be made by calling the museum at 254-675-3845 during normal working hours. The museum is open 10 am to 5:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is located at 301 South Avenue Q, Clifton, Texas.

 Following the lecture the museum will sponsor a book signing by Dr. Owsley of his new book from 5:30 to 7:30 that evening.   Dr. Owsley’s new book is available for sale in the Museum’s Gift Shop.  Dr. Owsley has made special arrangements with the museum for the purchaser of his new book to also receive a free copy of his book,  No Bones Unturned.

The museum continues its celebration of archeology in Bosque County with a dinner at historic Spivey Crossing, located directly across the Brazos River from the site of the Horn Shelter. The Dinner will be at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Charles Matthews in the late afternoon (4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.) on Saturday, October 24, 2014. In the mid-1850’s this crossing was frequently used between McLennan and Bosque County. A lecture on the significance of Horn Shelter and Spivey Crossing will be offered.  The dinner will be a fundraiser for the museum and reservations may be made by calling the museum at 254-675-3845. The dinner will be $50.00 per person.