Shared Beginnings

Ancient people went on an EPIC road trip

Humans started out in Africa. About 70,000 years ago, groups of people began to slowly move around the planet, making incredible journeys into new lands.

Group of Paleoindians

We don’t know exactly how or when, but eventually, people came to North America and the land we think of as Texas.

This is what we know so far.

Sacred Stories

Some of the best stories start “a long time ago...”

The Tribal communities of Texas have many traditional stories about their beginnings or origins. These stories often show a deep connection to special places on the landscape.

Watch the video below to learn more.

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A long time ago

This exhibit is focused on Paleoindians and the of Texas’ Native Peoples, but every culture around the world tells their own stories about the beginning of the world and people’s place within it. These stories may express ancient peoples’ experiences, passed on from generation to generation. They may serve to teach life lessons. stories help us make sense of our world and who we are.

When did people get here?

We’re not 100% sure but it’s a lot longer ago than scientists once thought!

Archeologists have found many places with ancient campfires, tools, and evidence from people who lived about 13,000 years ago. They thought these were campsites of the first people in the Americas. Then new discoveries of even older places challenged this idea.

Drag the slider to the right to compare the maps.

Original Clovis sites shown on a map of the United States
Pre-Clovis sites shown on a map of the United States
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Places where people using Clovis tools lived about 13,000 years ago.Places with some evidence of people living before 13,000 years ago.

Archeologists try to answer questions by the evidence they find. Around 1940, archeologists found evidence that people who made distinctive tools lived across America about 13,000 years ago. For the next 60 years, most scientists agreed with the interpretation that the people who used Clovis tools were the first people to live in the land that we think of as America.

In more recent years, archeologists have found a handful of sites with new evidence of even earlier peoples. At first, not all scientists accepted these sites as proof. But, then archeologists in Texas found stone tools and other objects made by people who lived over 16,000 years ago.

Now, most scientists agree that we just don’t know for sure when people first arrived in the Americas. Learning more about this question is a job for future researchers – maybe even you!

How did People get here?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Unclear, but we’re excited to find out!

Recent discoveries in Texas tell us that people were living here at least 16,000 years ago. But how did the very first people arrive? Well, it’s complicated.

Watch this video to explore some possibilities.

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Archaeologist holding a sign that says "All the questions"

For a long time, most textbooks taught that people walked across the through an ice-free corridor and into North America around the end of the last Some scientists, Native American scholars, and Tribal communities have long challenged the idea that this was the ONLY path that people took to the Americas. Today, a complicated picture is emerging of multiple of people at different times in the past.

For now, we don’t know for sure how people first migrated to the land we think of as North America. Keeping an open mind is an important part of learning about the past.

A Texas-sized discovery

Science is always changing… and that’s a good thing!

In Texas, archeologists made a discovery that some people thought was impossible. Researchers used scientific tests and critical thinking to rewrite Texas’ timeline.

Watch the video to find out how they did it.

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Science, Logic!

Remember tools? When archeologists at the in Texas discovered that were older than those, they used several different methods to demonstrate to the scientific community that they found something important.

Through both and techniques, scientists were able to demonstrate that their new discovery would change what we know about when people arrived in North America. Or at least, what we know so far.

Learning more

There’s always more to learn about the folks who came before us

With each new discovery, researchers can paint a more detailed picture of the first people who called this area home.

Hear from researchers who study Paleoindians.

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Most professional archeologists focus on one or two specialties within the larger study of the past. These specialists spend their careers focused on learning as much as they can about their piece of the puzzle. Then, they write articles, give talks, and teach classes to share what they’ve learned. They can also collaborate with – and learn from – Native American communities who ask that their cultures, and spiritual beliefs are respected and included.