A while back I did a blog post entitled “An Oasis” where I briefly mentioned finding an atlatl point while roaming around a particular area that we like to visit.
I am well versed in “outdoors skills” or as they call it these days…bushcrafting. I tend to notice things that are out of place within an environment and this was a classic example. But what started it all off was the topography as well as the flora and fauna in the surrounding area. Once you start putting the pieces together, a bigger picture begins to emerge.
This area is now part of a lake that finally filled up in 1989. I was roaming this area before that time. I can remember the two natural springs as well as the cliff overhangs and natural shelters that offered protection from the elements. Also, I noticed some of the flora that seemed to me to be a bit out of place. Upon further research it was discovered that some Archaic groups were thought to have cultivated some of these plants.
I am not an archaeologist or paleo-botanist but interestingly enough, I tend to forage on these same plants when outdoors. Why pack a lunch and carry extra weight when I can feed off the land. But back to the topic at hand…I had always thought that this area would make a good seasonal camp for our ancestors. There are two high points nearby that allow hunters to see quite a distance out over the prairie/savannah. An asset that our ancestors would not have overlooked. Coupled with natural shelter and water sources close at hand, it seems like a no-brainer to me. Yet one atlatl point does not confirm this idea but it doesn’t detract from the idea either.
So, what does any curious outdoorsman do? They seek out the experts for more information.
I spoke to a friend of mine who has a sister that is an archaeologist, or more correctly, a lawyer who helps First Nations tribes repatriate artifacts back into their tribes. Once the picture was sent and information given, I got an email from her stating all of the legal ramifications of picking up said atlatl point. Great! Not what I wanted to hear. However, she was gracious enough to forward my information along to some colleagues in the field who ended up getting me into contact with our State Archaeologists.
I offered to take the archaeologists to the area and briefly explain my thoughts and then see what happens. They were excited, yet due to budget constraints were unable to put anything together. I’m sure they see a lot of atlatl points anyway…so I wasn’t surprised.
But it was interesting to get a report from 4 Professors about this atlatl point. Consensus was that it was from the late Paleo-Indian to early Archaic Indian Period (10-8k rcybp) and was classified as a Dalton point. I was pretty excited, but I’m a nerd! I was curious about their position that “it probably washed down the river so it will be virtually impossible to locate its source.” However, a simple glance at a topographical map will show that this is a very small spring-fed tributary that doesn’t extend too far from where the point was found.
I offered to send it to the University but never received a reply back. I think it belongs in a museum but again, they probably have quite a few already.
In my mind…it confirms my theory that this area has been in use for millenia, and for good reason.