Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I dug up an arrowhead?!?

Monday night I decided to do  a little work on the sad situation that is plot #2:

I had already dug out the soil above the chicken wire, and removed said c.w. Now I needed to expand the plot to what would become its 4-5 ft. x 14 ft legacy.  Not intending to dig LOTS that night, I nevertheless grab the shovel and begin at the section near the bottom of the picture.

Very soon I hit a layer that's riddled with roots and a little more reddish-clayey that the top soil we typically have, so I figure "No one's ever dug down this far before."  Folks had this house AND garden before us, and if/when I hit a layer like that, I'm pretty sure they never went there.

So, I'm digging around, right about here (bottom of screen, right side of plot:

My red hen is wandering around helping (with any bugs that appear), and "Chink!" The shovel makes a very odd, sharp sound--clearly it hit something. Much to my amazement, it was:

For scale:

First I thought "!" Could this actually be an authentic Native American arrowhead? It's clearly obsidian (I learned about that substance as a child growing up in what? The Sierran foothills...)

Then the skeptic (killjoy?) in me thought: well, maybe someone (from modern times) was interested in learning how to do that, so did it as a hobby. Then I looked closely at the fine, all-parallel chipping marks. Looked (to my totally untrained eye, but vs. other arrowheads I saw on-line) like fine, expert work.


And the soil around it (I'm not CERTAIN it was the same soil level) was interspersed with charred bits of wood. It MAY be from a soil amendment I'd made earlier that got intermixed (ashes from our fireplace), but maybe not.

Either way, I was done digging for the day. I took a picture of the plot to I'd know where I found it, and took the arrowhead inside, wrapped it up in cloth, and shoved it into a drawer.

Then I e-mailed an archeologist friend of mine re: what I should do. So, I've got some state paper work to fill as, what I gather is, a courtesy information-update to the state, but apparently that may be the extent of my duty. I had to ask. It's easy to break laws and not know when it comes to things like this so I'm into asking 1st, acting 2nd.

So, I'll be sending these shots to my archeologist friend and probably at least one other archeologist friend so maybe I can learn about this arrowhead, what it might have been used for, and what tribe it's maker may have belonged to. Someone who lived here a (presumably) long time ago. I do know it's a great place for deer, rabbits, and squirrel.

As an archeologist friend of mine (3rd one I've mentioned) explained to me years ago: If you're ever out on a hike, turn a corner, and see a really appealing spot with a great view, and you have the urge to sit down and just enjoy that space? That's probably an arch site.  Because it's very unlikely you are the first human to have that reaction, and that means people through the ages may have had that same inclination to spend time right there.

And so we have. =)


P.S. I'll keep you posted!


  1. Wow. I hope you don't end up with a full-blown archeological dig ripping up your garden now! Still, it's exciting!

  2. @ Susain in PH: I agree on both counts. Either way, I'll have something to blog about (I really do think that way) and I'll get to learn. =)

  3. I once heard someone from the Bureau of Reclamation explain their rule for unexpected archeological finds: shut up and kick dirt over it, otherwise--welcome to your new project for the foreseeable future. But then, that's the Bureau of Rec for you.

  4. private property, no laws broken. Very nice projectile. Clay will turn red when exposed to high heat from a fire. You mentioned charred wood, so could be a fire pit. very likely much more material below your veggies. Nice find and puts your living space in context with previous inhabitants.

  5. @ anonymous. =) I looked back at the site and I definitely HAD amended the soil with fireplace ash so at least some of the burned stuff is ours, but either way, yes, it's pretty darn cool. =) Not that I really believe it, but it feels like a karmic gift 'cause I paid agricultural homage to Native Americans by finally planting the Three Sisters one plot over. Now I'm too busy to garden much, but reluctant to dig there until I send my report to the state. Not sure what to do. Ah, well. =)


Cool people write inside rectangles....