Historic droughts in Texas are leaving water levels in the region’s lakes, many of which are manmade, more than a dozen feet below normal. These drops in water levels are uncovering ancient artifacts, and even a Native American skull.
According to Sott.net, looters are taking advantage of the dropping water levels at Lake Whitney, which is about 50 miles south of Forth Worth, by snatching up Native American fossils and tools that date back as far as eight thousand years ago.
“The looter and scavenger comes and digs up the site,” U.S. Army Corps Engineer Brad Demsey told Sott.net. “They just destroy all that and leave it to the side.” He estimates that it’s been 20 years since the caverns where artifacts were buried have been seen.
Thirty arrests have been made and violators were put on probation and fined thousands of dollars.
The skull of a Native American man was found by fishermen at the edge of the water on Lake Georgetown in October, reported Statesman.com. The skull is being studied by anthropologists at Texas State University, and could be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of years old, Kate Spradley said.
Spradley, an assistant professor of anthropology at the university, pointed out distinctive male features of the skull including a brow ridge and wide cheekbones, and that a side of it is missing.
“It looks like postmortem damage, but it’s hard to tell if it was trauma associated with the death or it happened after death,” she said.
Anthropologists can’t be sure what tribe the man belonged to, and federal laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, won’t allow them to excavate further.
Finding Native American remains in the area isn’t uncommon—Lake Georgetown is near the famous Gault site, midway between Georgetown and Ft. Hood. Steve Black, an anthropology professor at Texas State said spear points of the Clovis people have been found at the Gault site.