I keep hearing references to “the new normal” and I’m not sure what people are trying to convey unless they are suggesting that the definition changes from day to day. Like most people the GSAR staff was sent home from our University of Texas lab in March and began to work from home. We canceled all our outstanding obligations – talks and tours – and settled in for a period comprised of catching up on the paperwork. Archaeologists always have a backlog of reports, projects, and articles that they will get to “when I have time.” So, for some time we have been very productive – lots of uninterrupted time to write and reflect.
Sooner or later that had to change and, as local Covid cases began to drop, we started looking at the next change. UT came up with an overall plan to restart research and we are now allowed to have half of the staff in the lab for two weeks after which they spend two weeks at home while the other half comes into the lab. Awkward but we’ll make it work. We will not, however, be allowed to have any non-UT personnel in the lab for the foreseeable future – no visitors or outside researchers.
We also have restarted our monthly scheduled tours that are coordinated alternately by the Williamson and Bell County Museums. While many of our previously scheduled tours have been canceled by their organizers, we will entertain reservations for tours of the Gault Site by other groups. We request that masks be worn and must have more than 10 people to schedule a tour and no more than 20.
Clark in his mask
Our staff has started some limited archaeological testing projects with very limited numbers of people. The lab staff is getting out with a few of our students and our public program, led by Dr. Steve Howard, is looking at some limited site surveys.
Our Staff out on a survey
We are happy to reach out to those interested in other ways. We have done a number of talks and Q&A sessions via Zoom and Webex which are a great way to bring our researchers right into your room without problems. We have tried to expand our social media outreach – particularly our Facebook page (GaultSchool) and we have started a YouTube channel that we hope to post great content to. We still have our videos available FREE to educators with accompanying online teachers guides. Most of all we are easy to contact – it may take a little longer for us to get back to you but we love to answer your questions about archaeology and the earliest peoples in the Americas.
Our thanks go out to our members and donors who are supporting us through this time of change. If you are reading this please consider becoming a member of the GSAR and supporting the work that is redefining the story of the peopling of the Americas.