Monday, November 05, 2012

Most recent finds

On October 20 I got up at dawn to look for artifacts that might have been exposed by heavy rain the night before. I figured it would take 4 hours to search the whole area that I wanted to cover. The hard rains had created great conditions for looking, many rocks freshly washed and easy to spot against the wet ground. Unfortunately, the rain also had turned most of the place into a swampy morass. Slogging through mud is as exhausting as trudging through snow, the thick muck pulls at your feet and heavy clods weigh down your boots. It took me 7 hours to search that area and the results were unfortunately typical of most of what I find, crude and broken stuff mostly.
In the top row are the broken base of a stemmed point, the tip of an arrowhead, a tiny broken arrowhead tip, and a broken triangular arrowhead. Beneath these are some kind of scraper, a Squibnocket Stemmed arrowhead, and what might be a crude scraper or possibly an arrowhead preform, not sure on that one. The Squibnocket Stemmed point looks like it might have lost a chunk out of one edge but most of it is there and it is not a bad find for me, here is how I found it- very easy to spot.
Last week's big storm and heavy rains filled me with anticipation. Any storm that causes a lot of erosion can cause something new to pop up in places I have already searched. On Friday morning I went to a place I have been to many times this year without much luck. I spent about three hours there and I did pretty good, nothing spectacular but it feels good to make any kind of find. These were all newly exposed by the hurricane.
A tiny broken felsite fragment (corner of a triangle or barb of a stemmed point), two quartz Squibnocket Triangles and the base of a stemmed point or knife of some kind. The broken triangle is made of a nice material, at least.
When I was done there I had a spare hour before I had planned to head to the next place I had wanted to visit. I decided to make a short unplanned stop at a place I have searched many times that was not too far out of my way. It is a nice place to take a walk and relax, a favorite place. There is a lot of vegetation there that covers most of the ground, especially at this time of year, it is really grassy. I didn't expect to find many places to look there but thought it was worth driving by in any case. When I arrived there I found that the heavy rain had churned up the surface in a few long but very narrow strips on the slope there, 1 or 2 feet wide at the most, where there was good fresh exposure. This was very, very exciting for me. I began to very carefully scan the ground, walking very slowly along each narrow strip of fresh earth. I saw a lot of broken chips and flakes, mostly quartz, that left no doubt that the water had stirred up the layer of dirt that contains artifacts at this site. I picked up and examined every broken rock, after several minutes I picked this up:
This is big, thin and well-made. I am really sad it is broken. This is what is called a Levanna point and I have often dreamed of finding one in this shape, large with three incurvate edges like this. It is a type of Levanna that has eluded me so far and this one will have to do for now, even with the missing corner.
I kept looking and after several minutes I saw this. The tiny visible piece of this rock looks hardly any different from a chip or flake and I am lucky that I bothered to take a picture of it. Quartz arrowheads that were worked on a lot sometimes have a peculiar unnatural surface that is difficult to describe. A broken piece of quartz can be smooth or it can be grainy but arrowhead surfaces sometimes have a subtle glassy look that is somehow different and that is why I snapped this photo.
What a thrill to pull this out of the ground!
So, a whole arrowhead and a nice broken one in a short time. That is really lucky for me and is more than I can really expect to find in any given afternoon, I didn't think I would find anything else but I kept carefully looking. By this time it was raining steadily but there was no way I was leaving. I thought this was a piece of black plastic trash but I picked it up just to be sure.
It's the broken base of something, a blade or scraper maybe. Too bad it is just a fragment but what nice material! I think it is flint from the Hudson River valley. At this point I realized I was having a special lucky day. I can not get any happier than when I am finding stuff and every step has the potential to lead to another find. These hours are few and far between for me but they are some of my favorite moments in my life. This one was impossible to miss:
Here is one where I started to pick it up before I realized it was an arrowhead and I should take a picture. You can see the indentation from my finger above the point.
It is the smallest Squibnocket Triangle I have ever found. I have some other tiny triangular points (that some call "bird points") but usually they are crude and hard to type. This one is the same shape as its big brothers and I think it originally was bigger and was carefully worked down until it became too small to work with any more. Making this must have taken a lot of skill!
I spotted this stemmed arrowhead base sticking out of the ground. I hoped it would be whole but was disappointed to find that it is broken I couldn't see the damage before picking it up. A heartbreaker.
There was also another broken quartz triangle. All in one small area in less than 90 minutes! One of my luckiest days ever. On days like that finding arrowheads almost feels easy. Almost. Here are the finds from this site, cleaned up.
Sunday I had plenty of time but was hesitant to go out looking, knowing that there was no way I could beat Saturday's finds. Toward the end of the day the temptation became too great and I did get out for a couple hours in a different spot on the coast, I looked until it was too dark to see. I found some more broken stuff, almost not even worth showing. A piece of felsite that might have been part of a crude knife or preform, the corner of a quartz triangle, a small stemmed point, and a broken tip of something. The small stemmed arrowhead is the most crude example of that type that I have seen.
Anyway, two days later, I am still in a great mood from Saturday. These little quartz arrowheads are common and they are not perfect but I love finding them!


pwax said...

Very nice finds. What a day you had!

Dennis Dee said...

All that, and I can't even find one!

Chris Pittman said...

Hang in there. I spent probably hundreds of hours of looking over the course of a year before I found my first broken one, I still spend countless hours on fruitless searches and come home with nothing. The hardest part is finding places to look, once you find your first one, others will follow. Try to find places within sight of water where the dirt is stirred up and rocks exposed, then it is just a matter of putting in the time. I search for hours for every broken artifact I find.