Flint Artifact Collections
An Interesting Way of Maintaining a Solid Archaeological Record of Surface Finds
As the years mount up on years, the habits of many collectors regarding the acquisition of artifacts, not unlike the seasons of our lives, begins to grow and mature. Much as a young hunter wants to shoot "anything that moves" while a veteran of thirty seasons is much more tempered in his/her approach to taking game, so too will the veteran artifact hunter become more interested in the artist or archaeological aspects of collecting as opposed to merely the acquisition of more and better artifacts.
In my salad days, when I was green in judgment, I was the aforementioned "young hunter." When it came to artifacts, my goal was to amass a truly large number. Scant attention was paid back then to the archaeological value of these pieces, and although I did record some of my better finds, I certainly did not do an adequate job keeping track of the associative artifacts that I was finding along with projectile points. In my artifact room, I have a number of cases of scrapers and tools that have only limited provenience. Since I could only ride my bike out hunting back when I first started, I know all the finds were from western Yuma and eastern Washington Counties in Colorado, but I have no way of being more specific than that. I think back to this time of ignorance and wince when I consider the number of channel flakes, for example, that I probably discarded since they did not look like something I would "put in case".
Young hunters grow up and the "shoot anything that moves" attitude morphs into "getting a limit." Artifact wise, this translates into finding or acquiring more and better artifacts. It is during this time that artifact collectors are susceptible to purchasing fraudulent pieces, if that is how they are choosing to build a collection. The reason for this naiveté is simple—the collector has learned just enough to know what he/she wants to acquire. Whereas the beginner doesn't know an arrowhead from a paleo projectile point, the "seasoned neophyte" has looked at magazines, surfed the internet, and gotten a few books which show a large number of incredible artifacts, the likes of which most young hunters have never seen.
The stages of addiction differ from individual to individual in terms of length, but generally speaking most collectors begin to refine their collecting habits a bit. This may mean that they begin to specialize in a certain type of hunting. For example, one of my friends is an old-time collector who still likes to hunt blow-outs. He knows that he is not going to find nearly the number of points he could on a blown wheat field site, but at the same time, he is aware that he has a greater chance of finding a Paleo Indian projectile point in an old sand blow that has the "blue-clay" layer exposed. My friend may hunt an entire year and only find one or two points, but invariably, one of them will be a Paleo.
Scottsbluff Site: In the spring of 2006, the author and his wife found these seven artifacts in a low spot on a cultivated field, where bone was eroding out. These were the only artifacts visible and the GPS coordinates of the site were recorded. The farmer replanted the field and further access has been denied until harvest. These artifacts all appear to be Cody Complex pieces. Dr. Hofnzan has recorded this material and may produce a paper on them, as there is a need for comparative samples from a variety of these types of sites.
Ford Hill: This Washington County site has witnessed at least 10,000 years of occupation. Note the Folsom fragments, along with the bow fragment on the left of the picture, with many different point types in between. These include McKean, Hanna, Pelican Lake, and Besant. In the lower left of the frame, you may note several "V" or "U" based points. These are an unusual type for the area, and it is suspected they are somehow related to the Gary type found in Texas.