Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring arrowhead finds

     I have been spending a lot of time looking for arrowheads but more often than not, I have come home with very little to show for my efforts. This picture shows the results of countless hours of careful searching. Rather demoralizing.
     On Saturday I drove to a farm field where I have found some arrowheads. Many people go there and look for artifacts. I have found no other place like it, in terms of popularity among arrowhead collectors. On any weekend day, you are more likely than not to see a figure methodically, slowly pacing the rows. At times I have seen 4 or 5 people out there, not as a team, but individually, searching a favorite spot in this field. Anyway, I got out of the car, I started walking and saw many small piles of chips and flakes left behind by previous searchers. I hate this tactic. The plow can move stuff around a lot, but the density of quartz chips and flakes on the surface is a clue and I don't see why collectors need to move these things around and pile them up in a place maybe different from where they were picked up. I tried not to get too discouraged, reminding myself that any rain can expose something new, and that as thorough as I am, I have found arrowheads very close to my own footprints. You can never find everything. I walked to the back of the field where there is a big pile of rocks that the farmer has pulled out over the years. And at the edge of that pile was a little area of quartz chips and flakes on the surface, where someone had been making tools. By "on the surface" here I don't mean eroding out of the bare earth, I mean these chips were sprinkled right on the top of the ground. Perplexed, I looked closer and picked up a single perfect quartz Squibnocket Triangle. This point was visually indistinguishable from other points I had previously found as nearby as a few yards away. Same shape, same material. The edges were no more sharp or more dull than the other points I find. But the debitage was clearly new, someone had been there making stuff. Extremely close scrutiny of this otherwise ordinary point showed a tiny speck of copper in a flake scar. This thing was made with modern tools. I was appalled. It ruined my whole day. I couldn't get over how irresponsible this knapper was. Why would you go to an archaeological site and make and leave behind new-made facsimiles of the artifacts that are there? Even the new debitage he left behind is a stain on the integrity of this site. But my distress was more than just indignation at the short-sighted recklessness of this modern toolmaker. I have been having a real hard time finding arrowheads- and then I go to a site and I find a modern copy. The first whole arrowhead of 2016, and it is days old. And no matter how hard I look, it is likely to be the "best" find of the day. A fake. My demoralization was total.
     I went to another place and tried to forget about the bitter taste in my mouth. I found a big broken triangle and a crude thing that some might call a preform but I would prefer to call a knife. It is made from a quartz cobble and still has some cortex at the base on one side. I don't have another like this. Not much to look at, but at least this is genuine archaeological evidence of early man and not just some kind of prank.
     Sunday, I met up with my friend Dave. We talked about places where we could go and look. I had zero expectation of a find. We went to a grassy place with little exposure. Hardly any rocks to be seen. We stopped by another place, tall grass- no hope. Dave mentioned another place where we could go. I was surprised to get there and see lots of dirt and rocks visible. I searched for about an hour. I realy wish I had brought my camera... Anyway, this was probably my luckiest day looking for arrowheads in the last 12 months.
     That felsite tool on the left is really special. It's not broken, it is a large point that has been worked down like this for use as a drill or graver. The argillite triangle on the right is a great find for me. It's large, really thin, and I love the material.
     On the way home we spotted some new construction by a river. The topsoil has been removed and is piled up in huge dirt mounds. The mounds are covered with chips and flakes of toolmaking stone. I will be going back there.

No comments :