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In 1939, artist Forrest Kirkland noted that "Flint flakes and pot sherds are plentiful throughout the entire area but artifacts [complete objects] of all kinds are extremely scarce now." A number of artifacts were carried away by visitors before property was conveyed to the state of Texas in 1969.The archeological and historic record of Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site is now protected by the Antiquities Code of Texas, and through the Public Use Plan for the park.Around 1,100 years ago the sandy land surface in this area stopped building up, so most of the discarded items, hearths, and house patterns left by people since that time remain on or near the modern ground surface.The highly visible and shallow archeological record of Hueco Tanks is easily damaged by activities that erode the ground surface, and many have occurred there.They first sought information through artifact styles, features, radiocarbon dating, and archival research.Additional data on the rich historic fabric of Hueco Tanks came from rock imagery styles, artifact densities in shovel tests, and historic inscriptions.
Although Hueco Tanks was not occupied continuously for 10 millennia, it is the only place in the region where every prehistoric and historic time period is represented.
The rock hills strongly influenced settlement in other ways: they provided shelter, served as a canvas for rock imagery, provided a base for food-processing facilities, and yielded fragments for use as heating elements in hearths and plant roasting pits.
The earliest people at Hueco Tanks were Paleoindian hunters wielding spears with Folsom points, who used a narrow pass between the rock hills to hunt herd animals, probably bison.
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For some 10,000 years, Hueco Tanks has attracted people who visited and camped around the rock hills, and left traces that archeologists can interpret.
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