| 9 July 2005
Excavation in Michigan yields prehistoric axe
A man thought he was simply digging a basement for the house he would eventually build in Bridgeport Township (Michigan, USA). But the hole Arthur A. Shaft opened up in 2000 turned out to be an archaeological dig of sorts, too. The Saginaw County Historical Society last month confirmed that the object was a barbed stone axe head left behind by Indians 3,000 to 5,000 years ago.
Shaft built his house on a site occupied by descendants of Indians who arrived in Michigan up to 12,000 years ago, said Jeff Sommer, the historical society's curator of archaeology. Sommer, who identified the axe, said it probably was used by an extended family of migrating Indians that hunted and gathered food at some sites and collected resources at others. Whoever made the axe likely spent several tedious hours shaping it with another rock before polishing it with sandstone, he said.
Indian artifacts turn up often in Saginaw County, although Shaft's discovery - a 'barbed' axe, with nubs flaring out from the groove in the center - is "a unique artifact," Sommer said. "We don't have any of this style from any good archaeological contexts," he said. Sommer determined the age of the axe by comparing it with similar pieces whose age is known. Like most artifacts from that period, the axe was well-worn. "People weren't throwing away their good, usable materials," Sommer said. "Most of what archeologists find and what people bring in was garbage. ... Once in a while, people bring in things like this axe, and it's really kind of a surprise to see it."
Shaft said he hasn't decided what to do with his discovery. "For now, I've just got it stashed," he said.
Sources: Associated Press, The Saginaw News, Indystar.com (6 July 2005)
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