A Late Afternoon Walk – Indian Artifact

Sunday, August 1, 2010… We had planned on a late afternoon walk to make the dogs happy and hopefully find some Indian artifacts. The temperature at mid-day was about 100. We didn’t begin walking until about 6 PM. Considering how far we were going to walk, I knew that it would be pretty close to dark before we turned back towards home – so we took a flashlight. (I had walked the same trail two days earlier. I was having so much fun pulling scrapers and other tools out of the bank of a dirt road that I didn’t turn back towards home soon enough. I walked the last mile on the little trail in pitch dark.)

We picked up a few flakes and a big quartz chip on the trail. Nothing great, but still anything that is found away from water is an interesting find to me. This trail runs across a mountain ridge and is mostly flat, so humans would have walked the same trail for thousands of years.

We got to a section of a creek that we had not searched for several months. Most of the time it is not difficult to find a place to cross it without getting wet. But this time we saw that the marsh area where we usually cross was so overgrown that it would not be possible to see where we would be putting our feet. I didn’t want to step on a water moccasin so we just walked across the deepest part of the creek.

As soon as we got to the other side, Kathy saw this.

I had walked past it and not noticed it.

This arrowhead has a modern break at the top. It is rare that we find artifacts with modern breaks. The main reason for that is that we never hunt plowed fields that get turned over each year by heavy equipment. This one probably got nicked by the same machinery that brought it to the surface.

A couple minutes later, I saw this.

A scraper/knife.

Around this time, Maggie the labrador came out of the marsh with this.

It took a minute or two to realize that she had an armadillo shell. This is something that we would have never seen in this part of Alabama a few decades ago. In the last twenty years, armadillos have become common here. In fact, I think one has found a home in our front yard.

It’s good to know that these things are edible. People who have eaten them say they taste like pork. In certain areas of South America they are a common dish. In this country during the Great Depression people without money for “regular” food ate them. They were commonly called “Hoover Hogs” – a twist of words on Herbert Hoover’s promise to “put a chicken in every pot.”

Just before Maggie brought us the shell, we heard her splashing in water where there had not been any last time that we were here. We made our way towards the sound and saw this big puddle and several more.

The same equipment that probably broke the arrowhead made these puddles. Most people are not going to get excited about new mud puddles, but those people are not going to be Indian artifact hunters. Near a creek, this is the type of spot where artifacts are likely to be. Churning up the mud possibly brings them to the surface. If there aren’t any there now, future rains might uncover them.

This time we found some flakes and several big pieces of chert and jasper cobble and tools. The jasper was interesting because under the surface is chert, not jasper. It had to be brought in. The best tool that we found here was this tool made from chert.

It was about fifteen minutes before dark when we turned towards home, and we were glad we brought a light. We couldn’t have pulled ourselves from the new mud puddles soon enough to avoid walking home in the dark.

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