Originally created 05/07/00

Residents dig history of county



Archaeologist Joey Smith looked at the reddish little spear point and nodded his head in approval.

"This is a great artifact," he said. "We don't often see Richmond County artifacts that are in this good shape."

The 11,500-year-old spear point was among the artifacts brought in by the public for examination by archaeologists Saturday at the Ezekiel Harris House on Broad Street. The annual event, dubbed Artifact Identification Day, was sponsored by the Augusta Archaeological Society and was held in conjunction with the Georgia Archaeology Awareness Week, which ends May 14.

The spear point had been brought in by Augusta resident Barry Goff, whose brother had found it several years ago at Savannah River Site.

"I was kind of curious to see how old it was," Mr. Goff said.

It turned out to be very old. In fact, the paleo-Indians who once used the spear point for hunting were members of the oldest known culture to have lived in what is now Richmond County.

"A lot of the people who bring in stuff like this don't realize how old they can be," Mr. Smith said. "But it's very valuable to us. We appreciate this day a lot."

Six-year-old Jacob Crawford beamed as he showed the archaeologists a piece of what he thought was an arrowhead that he had found while visiting his grandfather in South Carolina. It turned out to be a piece of a 4,000-year-old stone drill used by Indians, but the fact that it had been a tool instead of a weapon didn't disappoint Jacob as he quickly bombarded the archaeologists with questions about the Indians.

"This day is really about educating the public," archaeologist Bob Strange said. "We've seen lots of different things: medallions, Indian artifacts and coins."

The strangest thing by far that the archaeologists examined Saturday was a whale skull. A man showed up early in the morning, saying he had bought a car in the 1960s and found the skull in the trunk.

"We laughed and told him he should go see a paleontologist instead," archaeologist John Whatley said.

The most interesting artifacts, such as Mr. Goff's spear point, will be thoroughly analyzed and then recorded in the state files in Athens.

Reach Jon Forsling at (706) 823-3339 or jonforsling@hotmail.com.