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Collecting American Indian Artifacts
About Indian Arrowhead And Artifact Collecting
I think the main reason I enjoy collecting arrowheads and other Indian artifacts is the tangible connection to the past. Every time I pick up any artifact be it a bird point, atlatl dart, arrowhead, stone axe I find it awe inspiring to consider the hands that created this tool, used it, and eventually left it behind.
If the thought of finding a unique prehistoric artifact has piqued your interest read on and I will share some tips to help you start your own Collection of Native American Artifacts.
This article will look at where you can find arrowheads, how collect artifacts responsibly, and tips for buying legally attained authentic artifacts.
Photo of points from my own collection
30 Years Of Collecting Arrowheads and Indian Artifacts
How I Got Started
Hunting and collecting Native American Indian artifacts is a fun and rewarding hobby. In my family there is a long tradition of artifact collecting.
Some of my fondest memories involve surface hunting arrowheads along the river on my grandparent's farm.
When we had family reunions,after dinner the entire family young and old would join in the hunt. We didn't always find any Indian artifacts, but when someone was lucky enough to find an arrowhead it was always a source of excitement for the entire group. It was on one of these family outings that I found my first arrowhead (the only one that day) I was hooked.
Where Can I Find Arrowheads and Artifacts?
American Indian Artifacts Can Found in All 50 States
Generally, ancient arrowheads can be found throughout North America. All you need to be a successful artifact hunter is a little knowledge, keen eyesight, and fair amount patience. Water was the lifeblood of almost all primitive cultures, and Native American Indians were no exception. Water of course was necessary for drinking, but also provided a source of food (fish & mussels), transportation, and game animals were attracted to the water. For these reasons ancient life naturally focused around water sources.
Keep in mind that over thousands of years rivers change courses and lake levels rise or fall. Rivers can change their courses several times a century. Any site in the path of the rivers new course will be churned up and mixed with the rivers gravel however sites above the floodplain will remain intact. As the rivers move they deposit silt, creating terraces (areas of level ground above the current flood plain). Terraces provided an abundance of resources for ancient people, water in close proximity, good hunting and gathering prospects, natural shelter from the elements and fertile soil for the later agricultural societies. Today the ancient floodplains are still fertile and often fall under the plow. Plowed fields, on these ancient floodplains provide some of the easiest and most productive sites on which to search for ancient artifacts. Remember, today these ancient river terraces may be miles from the current river bed.
If you can't find a plowed field to hunt you will also want to consider looking at construction sites, areas where erosion occurs naturally, drainage ditches and small feeder creeks leading to larger bodies of water, gravel bars where feeder creeks empty into the main river channel, and in cut banks along rivers and tributaries.
Arrowhead Hunting Do's and Dont's
Commonsense Tips That Will Help You Gain Access To Private Property And Keep Out Of Trouble
Do: Get permission from landowner before you begin your search for artifacts.
Don't: Hunt for artifacts in State or National parks (you could be subject to fines and jail time)
Do: Confirm with land owner exactly where you are allowed to hunt.
Don't: Assume because a landowner gives "YOU" permission to hunt for artifacts, you are free to bring 20 of your closest friends.
Do: Respect the landowner, leave gates as you found them.
Don't: Dig without the express permission of the landowner to do so.
Do: Ask the farmer where he would like you to put any large stones you might stumble across in his field, and carry them out for him, (a little goodwill goes along way).
Don't: Assume because you have permission you are free to hunt anytime you like. The landowner may have reasons he would rather not have you on his property at a particular time. Check in on a visit by visit basis to be sure you won't be interfering.
Do: Keep a log of of any arrowheads or artifacts you find and where, include information about the geography of the location. Your logbook will become a valuable resource for pin pointing hot spots and provided clues to locations that warrant further exploration.
Don't: Disturb human remains or try to collect funeral objects. These types of sites are of significant archaeological importance and are protect by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
Do: Check into, and understand all laws pertaining the collection of ancient artifacts in your area. Laws can vary from state to state. This is by no means a complete list, but along with some commonsense, it should keep you out of trouble. Remember that landowners talk, so being respectful can open a door to the farm down the road.
What is This Artifact I Found? Identification Guides And Resources
Arrowhead? Knife? Spear Point? Atlatl Dart?
If you find an artifact I am sure you will want to find out just exactly what you have. There are many resources available to help determine the type, age, and purpose of your artifacts.
Reference Books: are a great place to start. I like The Overstreet Identification and Price Guide to Indian Arrowheads. The Overstreet guide is a comprehensive reference. The guide is broken down into regions, and includes photos, distinguishing features, approximate age, as well as the estimated values for all of the point types.
As the title suggests Overstreet's guide is for arrowheads ("Arrowheads" being a catch all for arrowheads, spear points, and knives) therefore would not be much use for learning about other types of artifacts, such as pottery or hard stone tools. Don't worry there are plenty of reference books for any type of artifact you may find.
Online Forums: are another great source of information about all types of artifacts. I am a member at Arrowheadology. Arrowheadology is a 2,500+ member strong forum for artifact collectors where you can post photos of your finds, discuss typology, receive feedback from fellow collectors, see what other people are finding across the country, and get plenty of good advice to aid you in your search. Arrowheads. com is another excellent forum devoted to artifact collecting, and is chock full of resources. Join a forum and post your finds, you will be amazed what you learn.
Local Archaeological Societies: can be fountains of information for the amateur collector. Call or join your local society to get information on your finds. Joining the local archaeological society can also provide opportunities to: see local collections, hear seminars, be involved with local digs, and participate in other interesting events.
Local Colleges and Universities: archaeology departments can also be a source of information. Call and make an appointment to talk with someone on the staff. Archaeology professors can tell great stories about your artifacts.
I was able to use many of the aforementioned resources, to determine that the artifact pictured above is a discoidal. Discoidals were used in a game played by the ancient Americans, called Chungke. My discoidal is likely the product of the Mississippian Culture dating between 500- 1200 years old. Read more about Chungke.
I would suggest using all of these resources and any others you can find to gather information about your artifacts. What you learn is more than half the fun, and maybe the most rewarding part of this hobby that is artifact collecting.
About Buying Arrowheads And American Indian Artifacts
Where And How To Purchase Authentic Native American Relics
Now days there is a fairly brisk market in prehistoric relics. If you can't find artifacts on your own, it's the off season, or your collection is simply not growing fast enough it is easy to find artifacts for sale. Be aware that fakes are very prevalent on the market, especially if you are dealing with high priced, high end pieces. You really need to do your research so you can tell the real authentic arrowheads from the fakes. Ask your forum buddies for advice on how to spot fakes.
Buying Arrowheads on Ebay
If you are buying on EBay, pay attention to seller ratings, only deal with sellers that display their feedback, try to focus on auctions run by AACA members, look for auctions with clear photos(it is common to disguise flaws with dark out of focus photos), and only deal with sellers offering a 14 day or greater return policy. If you exercise your due diligence it is possible to pick up some real bargains on eBay. Look for reference books on EBay for even more bargains.
Buying Arrowheads At Flea Markets
Flea Markets are another place where it is common to find authentic artifacts for sale. You have to be careful here, maybe even more careful than on eBay. Again, you need to do your homework, understand patina, use wear patterns, and the basic form you would expect to find in an authentic artifact. Very large points, very sharp points, or points in exotic forms are most often fakes. Some unscrupulous sellers also will rechip old points in an effort to garner a greater profit. Rechips are probably more common than outright fakes. Do your homework!!!
Buying Arrowheads at Garage Sales
Garage sales are yet another source of artifacts to purchase. Even though, it is less common to find artifacts at garage sales than at other venues, when you do, often times the artifacts are no brainer authentic pieces. Since the people holding the garage sale don't commonly trade in artifacts the prices are normally a bargain. Bargain prices on authentic artifacts make searching garage sales a worthwhile endeavor.
To Dig or Not to Dig?
I am primarily a surface collector.I believe intact archaeological sites are of such singnificance that the digging is better of left to the professionals. I am curious what do you think and why? Should artifacts hunters dig habitation sites located on their own property?
To dig or not to dig?
Arrowhead Mini Collections For Sale - On Ebay Today
Need a jump start for your arrowhead collection? Grow your artifact collection quickly, with these beautiful frames.
Recent Native American Indian Artifact Finds
Pictures Of Some Arrowheads And Artifacts I Have Found In Michigan
First Artifact Finds of 2012
A beautiful celt I found February 2, 2012 it is very rare indeed to be able to hunt artifacts in Michigan during January and February
I also found these interesting bones along with the celt. I believe that they are Catfish barbs, the tip of one shows some polish as if it may have been used as a perforator.
This is a tiny Arrowhead "Birdpoint" I found January 20, 2012
This is a true arrowhead often referred to as a bird point. The pock marks on the back of this arrowhead are caused by fire. This arrowhead was likely discarded into the ancient fire pit, or arrived there via a chunk of meat.
Cool Artifact Collectors Clothing - Give an Arrowhead Collector a Gift They'll Love This Christmas
Indian Artifact Collectors Resource Links
General Arrowhead Collecting Sites
A great deal of information is available here regarding the peopling of the Americas. Be sure to check out the back issues of "The Mammoth Trumpet" Center for the Study of the First Americans quarterly newsletter.
Center For The Study of the First Americans
My blog on arrowhead hunting in Michigan
Archeologist archaeology dig site gear by Funkart
Reputable Artifact Dealers
Dealing only in authentic ancient native American Artifacts legally and ethically obtained. AACA member
The Official Overstreet Indian Arrowhead Identification Online Database showcases over 1,000 individual point types, 60,000 photographs, and much more. Browse the Overstreet Database to identify arrowheads of all shapes and sizes from nine different regions.
Projectile Points.Net is an easy to use resource for identifying American Indian artifacts.
Understanding patina is key to telling the difference between real american artifacts and fakes.
Regional Artifact Collectors Links
Arrowheads of Texas- This site offer's some of the finest East Texas artifacts available on the market today. Be warned, once you visit this Arrowheads of Texas you will time will stand still as you browse this beautiful collection. This collection has been featured in The Who's Who in Indian Relics book as well as numerous other publications. Iit is worth the visit.
Texas Artifacts.Net offering top quality authentic Texas Indian Arrowheads / Artifacts for sale or trade. Member in good standing with the AACA
This is a great site with all sorts of information about Texas artifacts. Lots of photos.
Laws Governing The Collection Of Artifacts
Know the law!
Here is a little information regarding artifact collecting on TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) land.
Every prehistoric artifact is a work of art and should be displayed accordingly. The following article is full of ideas to display your collection.
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