Articles

A NORTH CAROLINA PALEO CACHE

 

No one, today, really knows just how long ancient man has lived in the southeastern region of the USA.  It is generally believed that men have been in the territory for at least twelve thousand years and some have theorized that ancient people have been in the sector for as long as fifty-thousand years.  We do know that they were here when mega fauna were living and we know that they used various regional minerals to make instruments for slaying and butchering these sloths and giant bison and mammoths.   Since these paleoindians were hunters and gatherers who moved throughout their geographical province, they would have needed places to stockpile their excess tools and weapons.  In the northwestern part of the modern Tar Heel state an ancient man or maybe a band of these men stored a large grouping of these tools near a stone megalith to constitute a wonderful North Carolina Paleo Cache.

 

Early man in North America is known for using the lanceolate type blade called the Clovis point.   But those fluted points were certainly not the only tools used by these ancient people.  Many types of knives and scrapers and burins and other necessary implements were utilized by the paleoindians.  They needed knives to butcher the killed animals they depended on for protein and scrapers to remove the excess fat and flesh from the animal skins so clothing and shelters could be made.  Burins would probably have been used to punch holes in the prepared skins so they could be sewn into usable garments and tents.  And there were other tools common to these people for which we, today, do not now have any comprehension as to their usage.  As a small ancient clan or family decided it was time to move to a new locale, they did not have horses or mules as beasts of burden.  Therefore they would have needed to carry their excess clothes, sheltering tents, very small infants, surplus food and necessary weapons and tools in their arms or on their backs or maybe if they had big and strong dogs, these animals helped transport the loads.  Since these ancient area inhabitants left no written records of their daily lives we must make assumptions about their travels from one camp to another.  And one supposition is that the paleo people buried or somehow concealed their extra tools that could be used again as they eventually circled around to the old camp site – thus they were cached.  Upon arriving at their new home area, the people would have found suitable stones and knapped new tools which were later hidden as the people later made another move.

 

Forty or so years ago in the county of Wilkes near the huge block of the earth’s granite crust named Stone Mountain, the late Ben Adams began finding, in a recently plowed field, various chipped tools that had apparently been brought from underground by the farmers plow.  Every week or so, especially after a good rain, he walked the field and continued to pick up more and more artifacts being plowed out.  When he had found all the apparent cache, the quantity that was obtained totaled seventy-four tools.

 

Many caches of prehistoric blades are comprised of preforms of specific point types.  But with this unique hoard, most of the blades are finished knives and scrapers.  Today there are names such as bifacial knife, humpback scraper and sway back knife along with fluted point that are used to describe some of the paleo period tools.  And all these entitled implements were found in this Stone Mountain stockpile.  The shortest tool in the group is 2 1/8 inches and the longest is 6 1/16 inches in length with most being in the 3 ½ to 4 ½ inches range.  They are all made of heavily patinated porphyritic rhyolite of the type often considered as being from the ancient volcano named Morrow Mountain which is farther to the southeast in the central part of the state.  A few clearly have flutes while more are basally thinned and have ground or abraded lower lateral edges.  Numerous of these tools have obvious secondary edge flaking meaning they were probably finished and ready to use scrapers and knives rather than being preforms.  The shapes include the classic paleo period lanceolate form as well as the bi-pointed knife configuration and the knives and scrapers as noted above.  A few of the cache were slightly broken on the distal end and/or the base, probably by the plow, but most are pristine ten thousand plus years old tools.

 

WOW – what a grouping of ancient tools.  This is a once-in-a-collector’s-lifetime find.  And this collector is so very happy that Mr. Adams heirs decided to entrust me with this treasure – this wonderful North Carolina Paleo Cache.

 

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