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10 May 2009
Ancient artifact unearthed in Massachusetts

It's tough for Marshall Hayum to look like the swashbuckling movie archeologist Indiana Jones. After all, this youngster is just 5 years old. Yet it wasn't 'Indy,' but Marshall who recently turned up a tangible link to the past: a sculpted piece of stone about five inches long, dropped by some long-ago fisherman who once used it to anchor nets in a river in Maynard (Massachusetts, USA).  When Marshall came across a funny-looking rock lying on the ground, instinct told him to investigate. "It looked like a bomb," Marshall said. "So I picked it up."
     According to Concord Museum Director David Wood, the 'bomb' is actually called a plummet. Although not much is known about plummets, Wood said the prevailing theory is that they were used by Native Americans to weigh down their reed-woven fishing nets. Wood said Marshall's plummet is an impressive specimen. It's a piece of granite distinguished by the fact someone, thousands of years ago, sat down and chipped it into a usable tool, probably using a separate, pointed rock to 'peck away' at its surface. Although dating the plummet is difficult, Wood estimated it is most likely between 3,500 and 4,500 years old and may have been made by one of the Algonquin-speaking tribes in the area.
     Though he may be a little young too understand the historical significance of his find - in fact, Wood said Marshall is the youngest plummet-finder he's ever encountered - his teachers are amazed. "We did a loop around the school, and it was just sitting there sticking halfway up through the dirt," said teacher Tiffany Kennedy, who immediately recognized it as unusual. "He was thinking of tossing it back, but I said, 'Let's keep it.'" Kennedy then brought the rock to art teacher Sharon Santillo, who tucked it into an oatmeal box in her car and promised to bring it to the museum. "The people at the museum get all kinds of things brought in, and they gave me their patient, 'What do you have for us in the oatmeal box?' [look]," said Santillo. "When I took it out, they were immediately excited. 'You have a plummet!' they said." "What's a plummet?" was her logical response. After quickly becoming an expert, Santillo was thrilled. Wood said he was similarly impressed. "To come across this at the edge of a playground is a funny thing," he said, adding that perhaps Marshall's sharp eye would suit him to a study of ancient rocks.

Source: Wicked Local (7 May 2009)

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