Shelters in Space: A Study of How Rock Shelters Affect Settlement Patterns in the Big Bend Region of Texas
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Settlement pattern studies are an important component of archaeological research, yet few studies have been undertaken for the Big Bend region of Texas. None have researched how sites are clustered around fixed geological features, such as rock shelters. This thesis was undertaken in an attempt to address this research issue.
Towards this end, 400 hectares of land in the eastern part of Brewster County were inspected by means of a 100 percent pedestrian survey. Thirty-three prehistoric sites were recorded in the sixteen surveyed quadrats, and 16 are rock shelters, seven are lithic procurement sites, six are open campsites, and four are lithic scatters. The sites, which could be dated using temporally diagnostic projectile points, ranged in age from the Middle Archaic to the Late Prehistoric.
The locational information of these sites was then analyzed using statistical and geospatial methods in order to determine if the location of open sites – lithic procurement sites, lithic scatters, and open campsites – are influenced by the presence of rock shelters. The statistical and geospatial analyses show a strong positive correlation between the location of rock shelters and the location of open sites. While a causal relationship cannot be proven, it is clear that open sites are located near rock shelter sites which are located in fixed geological features. This indicates that the prehistoric hunter-gatherers of the Big Bend chose to position their open sites in areas which were easy to access from a rock shelter.