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5 September 2009
Rock shelter yields rare proof of early Ohioans

More than 10,000 years ago, an ice-age hunter likely stopped to change a broken spear point beneath a rock overhang in what is now northwestern Coshocton County (Ohio, USA). A volunteer working with an Ashland University professor found the broken point last month. It has distinctive vertical grooves, or flutes, at its base, and that means it is far older than most flint arrowheads and spear points found in Ohio. It offers rare proof that the Paleo-Indians who hunted mastodons in Ohio during the last ice age sometimes used the rock shelters that dot the state.
     "I've been working on rock shelters for about 25 years," said Nigel Brush, an associate professor of geology at Ashland University. "We've excavated 30 shelters and never found a fluted point. I know of two or three other rock shelter sites in Ohio where they have found fluted points." Jeff Dilyard, a retired teacher from Wayne County, found the point in a layer of sand about 30 inches below the surface. There were no other artifacts nearby. Brush said that indicates that a hunter stopped there briefly to switch the point after it broke while he was hunting.
     Bradley Lepper, an archaeologist with the Ohio Historical Society, helped identify the point. It's an important find, he said, because most fluted points are found in farmers' fields. "It's in context, it's in the layer in which it was deposited," he said. "This is a case, and one of the few cases, in Ohio in which we can say, 'This is where it was dropped by people 11,000 years ago.'  "
     The flint came from Flint Ridge near Newark, Brush said, and the point is similar to a style first found in Ontario, Canada, called a Crowfield point. His team now is working to recover carbon fragments from the sand layer where the point was found so the point can be dated.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch (4 September 2009)

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