Prehistory & History

Prehistory of San Antonio (Pre 16th Century)

San Antonio is a city with a long and rich history that is reflected in the city’s diverse historic resources. These resources span from some of the earliest known human occupations in central Texas through the mid 1900s, and provide a physical glimpse into the past. Beginning with the earliest known habitations in the area, archaeologists divide the cultural history of this region into three primary chronological periods:

  • Paleoindian
  • Archaic
  • Late Prehistoric

These periods are defined primarily by changes in food resources and processing, technology, and to some extent, cultural interaction. Archaeologists observe and interpret these changes based on information and artifacts recovered from archaeological sites and written records.


Central Texas was an optimal habitat for early hunters and gatherers with its lush springs, abundant game, edible wild foods, and high quality chert for the manufacture of stone tools. The first known Native American occupations in Central Texas began before 9,200 B.C. in the terminal Pleistocene geological era at a time when now-extinct animals existed.


The Archaic Period lasted from about 6, 500 B. C. to the introduction of the bow and arrow about A. D. 700-800. This long archaeological record is well preserved in Bexar and the surrounding counties. The Richard Beene Site in Bexar County (41BX831) (Thoms and Mandell 2007), for example, not only contains Archaic components, but also exhibits a continuous record of human occupation for the past 10,000 years.

Late Prehistoric

The Late Prehistoric period is marked by the introduction of several technological advances, most notably the bow and arrow and, later, pottery. The bow and arrow quickly became the standard weapon, replacing the throwing stick, or atlatl about A. D. 700-800.

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