Horn Shelter Exhibit
The Paleoamerican Horn Shelter site is replicated in a special exhibit. Found in Bosque County in 1970, the Horn Shelter is a deeply stratified rock shelter that dates from the recent historic to the Paleoamerican time periods. This brand new exhibit installed in the fall of 2020 includes new interactive elements that allows guests to explore the burial site of an adult man and young girl that dates to 11,700 years ago. The exhibit space also includes a facsimile of the excavation complete with the original tools employed by the excavators.
The double burial at Horn Shelter is the only one recorded from the Paleoamerican period in North America. The burial also included numerous grave inclusions. These artifacts consisted of turtle shells, deer antler tools, bird claws, coyote teeth, snail shell beads, and bird shells. A finely made bone needle was also recovered. The exhibit features replicas of these objects and photographs by Smithsonian photographer, Chip Clark.
The exhibit includes an introduction hosted by a representation of Al Redder, one of the avocational archaeologists who excavated the shelter. Several panels explain the site and its importance for North American prehistory.
The learning journey can continue in our museum store! We have several titles on Paleoindian archaeology that feature Horn Shelter. Of particular note is Dr. Douglas Owsley’s book “Kennewick Man” that includes a full chapter on Horn Shelter and details the most recent archaeological and bioarchaeological interpretation of the site and the skeletal remains.
Researchers/Students: Contact us for more info
The Man of Horn Shelter
This bust represents a forensic facial reconstruction of an adult male discovered in Horn Shelter No. 2 (41BQ46) by Al Redder and Frank Watt in 1970. Radiocarbon dating places the age of this individual, and the child discovered with him, to around 9,700 years B.P. (Before Present). They are the oldest known residents of Bosque County and among the oldest in Texas. Only the Midland Woman (c. 11,600 B.P.) and the Wilson-Leonard Woman (c. 9,500 B.P.) are as old or older than the Horn Shelter individuals. The people of their era, known as Paleoamericans, represent the founding human population of North America.
The Man of Horn Shelter was estimated to be around 40 years old at death and may have stood about 5’5” tall. The placement of his body and the exotic nature of some of the artifacts suggest he was a high-status individual. Analysis of his skeleton and associated artifacts have led to the hypothesis that he was a shaman.
The reconstruction was made by artist/exhibitor Amanda Danning. It is based upon cranial analysis performed by Dr. Douglas Owsley of the Smithsonian Institution and a cast of the skull by Dr. James Chatters.