|27 June 2004
Prehistoric artifacts discovered in Virginia
Prehistoric nomads once gathered and cooked on land in what is now Ashburn (Virginia, USA), on about two acres that will soon become part of a wastewater treatment plant. Archaeologists who spent weeks recovering artifacts from the site are classifying and dating them to learn more about these ancient tribes. The finds - more than 1,500 items - include scrapers and spearheads.
Although it is not unusual to find a stray lance point or other relic in the area, archaeologist Alain Outlaw said the sheer number of artifacts as well as their potential for being dated make the site one of the most significant in the county.
Those who set up camp thousands of years ago didn't necessarily stick around for long, Outlaw said. "They made periodic visits to exploit natural resources" such as quartzite, Outlaw said. The rock was used to make such tools as points for spears, primitive drills and scrapers for cleaning hides, he said. Outlaw estimated that the nomads stayed there sometime between 2900 BCE and 700 BCE, a span that includes the Late Archaic and Early Woodland periods. More precise timing is expected from carbon-dating results due in early July.
"All the combination of the information we got out of the site makes it valuable to anyone studying prehistory in Loudoun County," Outlaw said. For example, the triangular spear points - and their similarity to those found in other parts of the country - can help scientists learn more about the migrations and interactions of prehistoric humans on this continent.
Although the sanitation authority has spent about $60,000 to study and excavate the site, project manager Tom Broderick said there had been no discovery, such as burial grounds, that would preclude construction from proceeding. "There are only certain finds that would force us to avoid the site, but we're not finding those," he said. When the treatment plant is completed in 2008, the adjacent administration building will include a small exhibit displaying some of the artifacts and explaining their history.
Source: Washington Post (24 June 2004)
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