Saturday, December 10, 2011

December finds

I like to set goals for myself when I look for arrowheads based on the seasons and particularly by month. I would like to have some sort of find for each month and I have been able to do that this year starting in March when the snow melted. Maybe this winter I will still be able to find things even in the snowy months by carefully searching at beaches, only time will tell.

December is not an easy month for finds. Although I would rather be outside in the cold of winter than in the heat of summer, the days are very short and places to search are limited. Last year I found just one point in December but it was a really good one. I went out today hoping I could make a find for the month this year, too.

The first place I went today was a massive area where I have spent many hours searching. In all that time I have found just a very few arrowheads, mostly just fragments, but usually I don't find anything. This area is near a river and it is sandy and dry and I would think Indians would have lived here but perhaps they favored the other bank of the river, or some other place nearby. It is also possible that the points here just don't get exposed, or that erosion has moved them somewhere else. Maybe most of what was there was already removed by collectors long ago. I spent a long time in this place and walked for miles, I found a broken piece of quartz that might have been a triangular point but I don't know. I started to feel frustrated and overwhelmed, this interferes with my ability to systematically search and to focus and so I got in the car and drove somewhere else.

The place I drove to was a smaller area where I have found many artifacts in the past. I hadn't been there for a few months, having given up some time ago because the vegetation is just too dense there now. With the warm weather we have had it has gotten even worse and grass blankets the ground. At a glance, you would not suspect that there would be any places here where you could see the ground at all. But the ground is uneven, and heavy rains cause erosion that exposes the dirt in small patches here and there. When I look in places like this I will examine nearly every stone, keeping my face close to the earth. The most likely spots produced only the occasional chip or flake. Then I found this:

Please excuse the photo quality, I really hadn't expected to find anything and hadn't even bought my camera, I took these with my phone. Here is a closer view.

This was an exciting find for me. You can see that there is a little nick taken out of one corner but most of the point is intact and the tip is still sharp. The material is also special for me, it is not quartz but some other light-colored material with a noticeable grain, I think it is quartzite. This is my first intact quartzite artifact find. It is small, only 7/8" long, but it is thin and fairly well-made. When I picked this up I was of course very happy but there was also some twinge of sadness as well. In the instant when I find something like this 3,500 years does not seem to be such a terribly long time ago and for a short moment it is easy to imagine this place filled with people busy with their lives as they must have been back then. But really it is just me all alone out there in the middle of nowhere looking at a tool that nobody has used in thousands of years and I am reminded of Whitman's description of grass as "uncut hair of graves."

After I was done searching every bare spot in this little place I drove to the sandy place where I found a Stark point last month. Because it is so sandy, the ground seems to shift around a lot in this place, and even the vegetation seems to move around, places that are bare seem to be quickly swallowed by weeds while other areas that were inaccessible become exposed. Looking very carefully, I found many chips and flakes made of interesting materials. I found this:

It is rhyolite and it looks like a drill form. I wondered aloud, "Could that be a drill?" It is. This is a drill made from a Stark point. The base is typical for Stark and the blade has been resharpened down to this narrow form. It is broken, missing the tip as well as one "tang" or ear or whatever you would call it. But this is the first thing I have found that is unequivocally a drill and I am very happy with it despite the damage. This drill is perhaps 6 to 8 thousand years old. Here are decent photos of both of the day's finds.


pwax said...

I think I know that sadness too.

pwax said...

Finding traces of a dead guy, at a rock pile site, does not help either.

pwax said...

I like the beige quartzite. Very cute.

Chris Pittman said...

I often think of your experience nearly finding a dead guy, when I am trekking around in some forlorn place.

I have a broken tool and some debitage made of a shiny steel gray quartzite and I would love to find a point made from that material. I went out again today and all I found was a single large flake of red Attleboro felsite, I really hope some day to find a whole point made from that attractive and distinctive stone.