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3 July 2005
9,000-year-old spear head found by Canadian hikers

The spot that a pair of Jasper residents (Alberta, Canada) chose for a hike recently could have been a hunting area for a pre-contact civilization more than 5,000 years ago. Thatís what the evidence tells Parks Canada archaeologists about a spear point spotted by Sheila Couture and Karen Byers in late May as they were walking in the Cinqfoil Ridge area, east of the townsite.
     "We just stopped to talk and looked down...it was black and everything else was neutral coloured," said Couture. "I thought because it was so symmetrical and it was dark, 'this is something'...and it was something," They gave the small spear point to Mike Dillon, cultural resource warden with Jasper National Park. He in turn showed it to archaeologists who work for the park.
After studying it, they believe it is a 'Cascade point'. Itís a point type found in the interior plateau of southern B.C. and northern Washington, in the Cascade Mountains region.
     This type of projectile point dates between 5,000 and 9,000 years ago, according to Dillon. The dating is determined by archaeological knowledge of technology types used by early civilizations. Experts think it is probably closer to the 8,000-9,000 year range because of the fine craftsmanship they see in the working of the point. More modern points tend to lack the same kind of craftsmanship. "Thatís pretty neat," said Couture. "Just to think that youíre holding something in your hand that somebody else who lived that long ago did as well." The artefact is believed to be made of black chert - a type of hard stone on which a fine edge can be produced because of the crystal structure.
     Dillon said there are several theories as to how an artefact believed to be from another area ended up in Jasper National Park. Someone from the Cascade area who was here could have made it, or someone from that area could have simply brought it here. Another possibility is that it was traded between someone from that area and another person from this area. "My guess is that whoever was there was probably hunting, for sheep or goats given the steep terrain they were in...threw it at an animal, missed and continued on with the chase and werenít able to recover it," said Dillon. "Or possibly, it stuck into an animal and the animal ran off with it and died later." Parks also believes that the artefact is an isolated find because of the terrain in which it was sitting. The surroundings indicate that it was probably a hunting area and not a spot where people would have lived, camped or made tools.
     The spear point was sent to a Parks Canada regional office to be looked at, and it will then be returned to the park as a part of the cultural resource collection. It will likely become part of a small mobile display that can be brought out at special events in the park or shown at various locations, like the local museum, on a temporary basis.

Source: The Jasper Booster (29 Hune 2005)

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