2,000-year-old sculpture unearthed

Saratoga Man


It was going to be the final resting place for a man’s dear, departed dog in a sweet spot of Southeast Texas. But as evidence would later show, it was already the resting place of something else – an effigy doll dated back to the time of Christ. Texas Archeology Study Association of East Texas (TASA) president Bruce Lockett said it is the find of the century, mostly because of what century it came from. 

“This guy, who doesn’t want to be identified but lives between Saratoga and Sour Lake, dug up a little mound in his yard to bury his dog,” Lockett told The Examiner. “A piece of the dirt was left unearthed and a little rainfall overnight cleaned this guy (pointing at the effigy) right off.” 

At approximately 4 inches in height, the miniature sculpture could have easily been lost to time. 

“If it wouldn’t have been for the perfect set of events occurring, we would never have discovered this,” Lockett said. “This is quite amazing, to say the least.” 

Although small in stature, the artifact still holds lots of information. An analysis of the find revealed the effigy doll to be roughly 2,000 years old, and made in the likeness of Texas’ earliest settlers – the Atakapa Indians. 

Historical and archeological studies have revealed the Atakapa to have inhabited the Gulf Coast region for at least 2,500 years, with some estimates dating the tribe back as much as 12,000 to 15,000 years. Research performed on the local find by Texas Historical Commission Archeological Steward Charles Bollich revealed the effigy to be more than 1,000 years old, up to roughly 2,000 years old. 

America’s first European settlers noted about 500 years ago that the Atakapas were “man-eaters,” a fact Lockett’s findings have also revealed. 

“There is evidence that did occur,” he said, although it is unclear why cannibalism was instituted as a way of life. Some historians believe the Atakapa roasted their enemies, others believe the Atakapa diet was just not that discriminatory. 

As a whole, Lockett said, the Atakapa were an advanced civilization. The effigy doll found on the Hardin County property Aug. 5 showed evidence of advanced craftsmanship as well as paint residue. 

“This is a major find,” Lockett said. “These are rare, ancient, and amazing.” 

Lockett said he has reason to believe more buried treasure may be in the area. Anyone wanting to report an archeological find for further review can contact Lockett at (409) 769-3069.