Thursday, November 6, 2014

Neighborhood Archaeology

These four are all old, and  all surfaced after many years underground.  We dug up the little rusty goat bell at top left while digging new gardens when we moved into our current house, around 12 years ago.  It doesn't have a clapper anymore and is frail and lacy around the edges.  We wonder whether this belonged to a goat that was temporarily hired to clear brush on the lot or that was maybe part of a herd of goats when this land was farmland around 100 years ago.

The bell at the bottom seems to be possibly a cow bell because it's so much larger and stronger than the goat bell.  We dug it up while digging a garden during 1972, our first year in Indiana.  It has a clapper and still rings in a clangy, unsonorous cow bell way.  Someone must have kept a cow in that yard when the neighborhood was farmland.  The house dated from the early 1900s, and by the time the house was built the area had been subdivided into little lots for factory houses for the nearby Ball Band plant.  So the cow bell could be quite a bit older than the house.

On the right at the top is the oldest object we own.  It's a stone knife that my son David found in a newly-plowed cornfield around 1998.  I was working that summer on the archaeological site adjacent to the cornfield, and I brought the knife to the archaeologist the next Monday to see what he could tell me about it.  It was useless to him as an artifact of course, because it had been found out of context in a field that had been plowed for years; but based on the kind of material and the flint-knapping techniques, the archaeologist estimated the knife to be several thousand years old, way older than the artifacts we were finding in the nearby site where we were digging about 24 inches underground and finding  arrowpoints that were 2-3000 years old.  It's a lovely little knife, and the marks of work on it are fresh and sparkly.  You can see exactly where it was chipped and shaped, and the edge is still sharp.

The spear point on the bottom is from a friend's backyard in Indiana.  My friend collected arrow and spear points from his property, and gave me this large example many years ago.  He didn't know anything about it, and I certainly didn't.  The material is a lot smoother than the stone knife, and the working marks are clear and detailed.  You can just see the stem of the point where it was fastened to a stick with sinews. 

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