6,000 year old copper spearhead found in park
|October 2, 2008|
Campbellford – Ray McDonald made an interesting discovery at Kennedy Park with his metal detector on Sept. 25.
While sweeping the park just above the Rotary Hall for lost rings and coins, McDonald found what he believes is a copper arrowhead or spearhead.
The item is about 3.5 inches long with sharp bevelled edges and a rounded point, a greenish patina, and is heavily encrusted on one side. The other side is smooth.
It was found buried about six inches from the surface.
McDonald posted a photo of his discovery on a metal detecting website asking for help in identifying the object and he got several responses.
One man said he has collected Indian arrowheads for the past 25 years and has worked in the field of archaeology for eight years. He told McDonald that the item is more likely a spearhead than an arrowhead based on its size. From the photo, it was his opinion that it was made from native copper, and dated it to between 5,000 and 7,000 years old.
He also said that the point is “quite a rare find in respect to most arrowheads in the area. They have been found, but not in large numbers.”
Another contact indicated that centuries ago the Hurons used to make weapons from Jesuit copper trade goods such as kettles, pans and ladles. He suggested that as a possibility.
As far back as 6,000 BC, ancient native societies did in fact produce copper tools and weapons in the western Great Lakes region from a source of almost pure copper near Lake Superior.
These communities also traded their copper goods with other native societies at the time, possibly accounting for it being found in Campbellford. By about 3,000 BC, the use of copper was increasingly restricted to status items such as jewelry rather than weaponry.
McDonald contacted the archaeology department at Trent University on Tuesday to see if they would be able to help shed light on what he had found. He was told rather abruptly, he said, that he had no business searching for ancient artifacts and had no right to keep his discovery. The person then hung up on him.
The site at the soccer field in Kennedy Park has been landscaped, so there is no way of telling whether the artifact was found where it has lain for uncounted years or if it was moved with other earth by a bulldozer or dump truck to that location from a nearby or remote location.
Its location by the river below Saskatoon Avenue suggests that it might have been used for spear fishing, but its size could also indicate that it was used for hunting larger prey animals. Being made of copper would suggest that it was unlikely to have simply been discarded at the time it was created.
Whatever its history, McDonald is proud of his discovery.
“As soon as I saw it I knew it was old. I like that the guy said it was 5 or 6,000 years old and I’m going to live with that until somebody proves me wrong. I don’t know how far I’ll take it to get it identified, but it’s obviously old. This is by far my most prized possession.”
McDonald said metal detecting is just a hobby for him, not a business and he would be glad to help people find lost rings at no charge if they would like to call him at 705-653-1292.