Points..........Pottery.......and Palpitations
By Michael E.
Ovid Bell Press Inc. (
Unauthrorized Reproduction
   The year of 2004 had not been
a stellar year for me as far as
collecting artifacts.  Problems
with irresponsible collectors in
the valley had left me with only
one hunt each on two of my best
sites.  My other site had not
been plowed, nor had the
previous year's corn been
chopped.  In July, to my surprise,
the farmer who owned the
uplowed site decided to disk it
and then plow it.  I almost always
get beat to this site by an
old-timer who lives right near it,
so when we got a gully-washer of
a thunderstorm the day after it
was plowed, I took a couple of
hours of vacation and hurried
home to get my gear and head
out to the field.
    Besides being hot and muggy,
the day was perfectly overcast.  I
got to the hot part of the site
only to be surprised that it had
been plowed deep, then disked,
just before the thunderstorm had
done its revealing work.  A grin
then cracked from ear to ear on
my face when I realized that I
was the first one there.  On the
first pass I found a Perkiomen
(or Susquehanna) point (Figure
1), as I walked through several
cooking or pit features with the
characteristic pieces and stains
of charcoal.  On the next few
passes I found several pitted
stones and a vestal notched point
(Figure 2).  The last few passes
of this area produced a small
drill point (Figure 3), some small
pieces of Vinnette style pottery,
and some broken points.  I
thought to myself, "Wow!" as
my point pocket was getting full.  
However, I was getting really hot
and really sweaty.  Like a true
collector (ore was I a fool?), I
trudged on.  Hunting conditions
like this don't always present
themselves, and I was having a
great day.  I moved on to the
second portion of this site and
was soon greeted with a large
Genesee point (Figure 4) with
only the stem visable.  I actually
thought it was debitage until I
tugged on it and it moved the
chunk of dirt that it was encased
in.  What I pulled out was a
perfect three-inch point.  Do you
think this made my day?
  The very next pass produced
the perfect Levanna in Figure 5.  
I was on cloud nine, but wow, I
was starting to get thirsty and
my heart was pounding.  Must
just be excited from the great
A few pitted stones, and broken
points later I finished up this
section and moved on to the last
section.  By this time I had been
two and a half hours in the heat
and humidity, and now the sun
was starting to peek out.
    Trudging over to the last
sectiion, my backpack full of
pitted stones (11) felt more like
a second person than anythin
else.  As I started to walk this
section I was disappointed, no
pottery was in sight (usually
there is a lot of pottery in that
section).  This was odd, but hey,
the plow does mysterious
things.  On my third pass I found
a nice piece of the neck of an
Owasco Corded vessel (Figure
6).  The final few passes
produced three more large, thick
pieces of what I believe to be
Point Peninsula Rocker Stamped
pottery (Figure 7).
    Walking back to my car,
which was a half-mile walk, I
thought that this was a great way
to end my collecting season.  I
had found 32 artifacts and 5
perfect points (Figure 8).  I also
happened to notice that my heart
was racing, and I was really hot.  
I wasn't used to looking for
artifacts in this kind of heat, as
our springs here in New York
are usually in the 50's and 60's
during the collecting season.
   Consequently, I wound up in
the ER at 2 a.m. the next
morning with heart palpitations.  
Was it worth it?  I'll answer that
one if the palpitations go away.  
A word of caution:  it's a good
idea to take some water with you
if it's going to be that hot.  I've
collected for 23 years and have
never gotten dehydrated like
that before.  Don't let your drive
to find artifacts overrule your
good sense.  I'm sure there are
some skeletons of collectors out
in the hot Southwest that could
tell you all about how they did
not listen to that small voice, the
one that gives you sensible
Figure 2
Figure 4
Figure 5