Since I was about 9, I’ve gone out with Dad to go arrowhead hunting. Back then every rock was magical, and I had a collection that took up several shoe boxes in my closet.
As time went on, Dad gave me his framed collection, and a frame to display some of my own favorite arrowheads. It’s become not just a collection, but a reminder that we were not the first nor will we be the last to inhabit the lands we call home; a reminder that some people though suffering through incredibly hard times, had the courage and determination to figure it out, and need nothing more than a few stones to survive for thousands and thousands of years in balance with the world around them.
Arrowhead hunting is an incredibly enjoyable hobby. Our hunting grounds on the farm are high ground that has never been topped or filled in by other dirt. You have to see the land for what it was back then; without fences, roads, or houses. The low lands that we have tiled were then swamp, and the high grounds were wooded areas or openings to hunt, rest for the night, or maybe even live for a season.
It’s far more common to find flakes of flint rather than a full arrowhead. When a traveling group of people did stop, they would take the time to make more arrowheads, thus making more flakes of flint. Chances are though if you find flakes, those people stayed for some time, and the arrow they used to kill something would have possibly been lost, broken, or left behind at that site.
Recently I picked up a book that discussed the varying designs and arrowhead engineering, and how old that engineering is. Dad and I thought these things were a few hundred years old. It turns out, some of our stones are as much as 8,000 years old, maybe more. We have found man-made tools that were in the ground long before a guy named Jesus was doing his thing 7,000 miles away. Some of these stones were made, used, and lost 3,000 years before the pyramids. And here they are…evidence of humans in Henry County at that time.
So…this past weekend, I went out into a field that had not been turned over in 80 years behind my parent’s house. A new field means less machinery over the years, so less chances for a point to be broken or buried forever. That’s where I found this:
It is the best arrowhead I and even Dad have ever found. Nearly perfect…the best we can tell it is referred to as an Intrusive Mound or a Jacks Reef design, and ranges between 1,000 and 1,500 years old. We sat next to it for a moment, understanding that the last human hands to touch this stone were alive during the days of the Crusades; even though no one fighting in the Crusades knew this continent let alone these people were even here.
It was nearly perfect, just a small piece chipped off the bottom probably from some machinery. You can see it is ‘riffled’, so it would spin through the air for greater distance and be a much more accurate shot, like those Nerf balls we had when we were young that made every kid look like Joe Montana. State of the art technology for the time.
So what were they doing on this hill? We’ve found several chips, so they stayed for a while. This is an almost perfect stone so it wasn’t thrown away. Did they camp here? If so for how long? Why did they leave the stone? Was it lost? Was it still in something or someone that was left behind?
We’ll never know, and that’s fine. It’s all part of the enjoyment of the hobby. We hope that whoever made this arrowhead and others like it and used them for survival is not offended by our collection. Our goal is to learn, and understand that other people lived off this land long before we did, and did so for millennia…with just some stones and a religious appreciation for the land. Pretty humbling.