Arrowhead And Projectile Points Collectors : Hunting for Ancient Hunters
four hunters were beginning to get excited as they drove deeper into
the Georgia wilderness. Three of them, this writer included, because of
the things they were expecting to see, and the fourth, because of the
things he knew they would see. This fourth person lived in the vicinity
and was our guide, both for the turkey we expected to pursue and on
this particular quest.
This part of the state was once the ancient shoreline of the Atlantic ocean when the ice caps melted and seas covered more of the earths land masses. The soil is therefore sandy being composed of the remnants of what were once great dunes. Many of these hills were too steep for agriculture allowing much of the land to remain undisturbed.
Like these modern hunters, Native Americans found this wilderness a perfect place to hunt for deer and turkey. The land was littered with the evidence of their lives in the form of artifacts they left behind. We were privileged to be invited to view such a collection, an invitation this author had craved for over a decade.
Art and Utility Combined
A Different Breed Of Collectors
Almost everyone collects something it seems. They may not know anyone else who collects the same things they do but their collection means something to them. Native American artifact collectors are no exception, especially the arrowhead and spear projectile collectors.
Hand an exquisitely formed Clovis spear point to the average person and you will get a variety of responses from “oh what a pretty rock” to “wow this thing is sharp.” But give this point to a hunter and you will see his eyes almost glaze over as he feels the eons melt away to the time a hunter, like himself, used this sliver of stone to keep his family alive.
The weapons and tactics have changed, but to a hunter the goal is the same as it has always been.There are several reasons hunters are especially susceptible to this wonderful hobby.
The aforementioned identifying with the ancient hunter of course, but also because of the hunter’s love of the outdoors. He has a different outlook on the wilderness because he spends so much time there.
In some places the land the modern day hunter travels has changed very little over the centuries. We hunters also have a great deal of envy and admiration for those people who were able to thrive on what nature offered them. The artifacts left behind tell a story about these wonderful and mysterious tribes.
Individual projectile points also tell something about it’s maker. Many are carefully produced, with beauty, as well as, utility showing a sense of art appreciation. Wonderful shades of color are not required to make an arrow fly better, nor are intricate carvings needed to enchant the prey.
Personal pride in one’s workmanship would seem to be the motive. Another link to modern hunters it seems. These extra artistic flourishes are no different than the filigrees on a rifle or shotgun used by hunters of today. Man hasn’t really changed that much over the last thousands of years.
Stones With Stories
Modern Hunters and Ancient Artifacts
It’s hard to imagine modern hunters being envious of these mysterious people, but this is indeed the case for some of us.
We know nothing will remain of our existence as hunters after a relatively short time passes. We do not leave anything behind marking our having been here as individuals.
Nothing we use or build will even approach the longevity
of the stone tools used by those prehistoric hunters. Modern technology
is wonderful, but the materials used to make today’s hunting weapons
will not be around very long when exposed to the elements.
When a hunter finds a projectile point he can’t help but imagine the scenario which took place right where he is standing. If the point was discovered in what used to be a shallow water filled swamp he knows the animal probably escaped the hunters and died, leaving the perfectly formed point to be found these many centuries later.
In some parts of Georgia the source of stone used to make the point came from a great distance, so recovering a well made point was very important to the hunter. If the animal had been found, the point would have been recovered and reused on later hunts or remade into a smaller tool.
Beautiful As Well As Deadly
A Journey's Reward
So this is why we were traveling through the dogwood dappled forests, down roads so sandy we worried about the truck scraping the ruts.
Miles would pass before an inhabited homestead would appear. Strangers were noticed on these roads and their appearance noted closely.
Residents of this area do not have a great deal of education as it is not necessary for the few occupations offered in this sparsely settled country. The man we were going to see could not read or write well, but this did not mean he was uneducated in other areas of expertise.
Having met him an annual gathering of hunters almost twenty years ago, he only approached me when he found out I too collected Native American artifacts.
We finally turned off the sandy road into an even smaller two path lane leading down into a heavily forested valley. Even when we stopped among the trees it wasn’t at first apparent a house existed here at all.
But then we glimpsed the home, constructed with weather and sun bleached timbers it blended perfectly with the hardwood forested backdrop. A certain sense of peace prevailed over the homestead, you could feel it and it seemed familiar somehow.
The three visiting hunters were used to vast southern swamps and pine forests instead of easily traversed hardwood wilderness.
One could walk for miles before encountering any occupied residence. The country was spotted with one time cotton fields now covered with second growth timber.
Chimneys and broken down windmills were the only evidence of a once populated area. There is a sense of mystery about these places which is as it should be. Many humans have lived and died here over the centuries and their ghosts seem to never let one forget this fact.
Our host took us inside to see his collection, but even before we went inside we noticed a long row of grinding stones with the pestles still nestled inside. We were fascinated and we couldn’t help but feel a little like Indiana Jones as he was entering a crypt.
One entire room was filled with his finds. When Howard Carter first looked into the tomb of King Tut he was asked what he saw. “Wonderful things” was his answer, and we could not help but have the same feeling as we gazed dumbstruck at the treasures in this room.
The entire room was crowded with artifacts of every different kind. Fully restored exquisite pots and urns were placed on shelves and projectile points were displayed in a variety of exhibits.
Tobacco pipes had their own spot and so did hammers, tomahawks, and maces. Drills, hide scrapers, and other pieces of flint, used for a variety of purposes, were prominently displayed for viewing.
One inscribed rock was very interesting with a picture of one human killing another etched into the surface. We have visited museums which did not have the quality of artifacts this one person possessed.
From An Ancient Hunt
Arrowhead Collector's Favorites
The Importance Of Collecting Artifacts
It would be hard to place a dollar value on this collection but it had to be an extensive sum. This was a source of pride to the owner as well it should be and we were thankful for the honor of being invited to see it.
We were not permitted to take photos of any of the artifacts this
time, but the man told me that I may be permitted to in the future. Rest
assured, I am awaiting the okay.
There is no way of knowing how many exciting finds are hidden away in private collections. Like stolen art treasure, the owners fear thieves and government confiscation. Many of these collections have been accrued over several generations by family members.
Some are so secret only a few people are
aware of their existence. This is a shame, as no telling what beautiful
objects exist that archaeologists would love to know about. As far as
taking care of these wonderful artifacts goes, the owners go to great
lengths to assure they remain in perfect shape.
Artifact collecting isn’t just for hunters and I do not wish to prevent anyone from enjoying this fascinating hobby. But being able to put one’s self into the head and heart of the ancient hunter helps to understand why they made their points beautiful, as well as, deadly.
We are so grateful the ancient ones left these gifts for us to find and enjoy. It’s a shame we can’t do the same for our descendants a thousand years into the future.
- The First Georgians : Ancient Hunters And Projectile Points Of Southeastern Georgia
Over 14,000 years ago the state of present day Georgia was completely different than today. Covered with hardwoods instead of spruce and pine, it was teeming with animals both vegetarian and carnivore. Enter human beings across the land bridge from S
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