Central States Archaeological Societies
Central States Archaeological Societies


Bill Eilers

Central States Archaeological Societies 2003 Winter Journal

Union, Missouri

I have been fortunate enough to find, the site that I have always dreamed of finding. I work in the soils testing field and work along side the grade work that is done for construction sites. This particular jobsite was a 15-20 acre tract in St. Charles County, Missouri, about 10 miles north of the Missouri River. This job was like any other at the start. I would go to the site while it was being cleared of trees, structures, etc. to get a feel for how the grading of the site might go and to foresee any problem areas. This jobsite was small compared to a lot of the others. I was walking around looking at the site and getting a sample of dirt to run some tests on at our lab. I saw a few chips of chert but thought, There is nothing out here. It doesn't look like a good site. I got my sample of dirt, and as I was walking back to my truck there it was, the first point of what was to become the site of dreams. It was a perfect 5 inch Etley point with a needle tip common on a lot of resharpened Etley points. There was not a chip on this point. I looked around some more, but did not find any others that day. The area where I had found the Etley was a wooded area that had just been cleared. This site was never farmed, and as far as I know, never disturbed. I went to the site a couple more times, but did not find anything except for a few broken pieces. I showed the point to the foreman on the job, who is an arrowhead collector as well, and told him that I had a feeling this was going to be a good site.

Finally the day came to start moving dirt. At this point of the construction, there were only a few people who even knew that there were artifacts on the site. You cannot see the area from the local roadway, so people driving by cannot see someone looking for points. We stripped the topsoil off the hill where I found the Etley, and that is when the top on the bottle opened. Point after point started showing up. One afternoon I came home with nine complete Etley points, five rectangular knives and about 20 broken pieces. The vast majority of the points found on this site were Etleys. However, there were Godar, Wadlow and Steuben points found, as well as a couple of Daltons, Hardins and some birdpoints. Other items found include one full grooved axe, rectangular knives, drills, miscellaneous blades, spades, hoes, mortar stones, mano stones, grinding stones, chunks of hematite, flake knives, scrapers and hafted scrapers. There were burn pits on this site as well, and just about everyone had some amount of pottery shards. One pit in particular had so many pieces that I took them all home and reassembled the pieces. It is not a complete bowl, but it is a part of history and I have recreated it.

One of the highlights from doing this job was the afternoon when Rick, a friend of mine, and I stayed after work to do a little exploring. He operated one of the pieces of equipment and turned over the dirt where the artifacts were showing up. A piece of worked chert caught my eye. I bent down to take a closer look and saw the tip of a huge blade. I got my shovel and took out a large chunk of dirt, assuring myself I would not hit the blade. The blade turned out to be a 6 1/2 inch long by 2 inch wide Wadlow. WhatÕs better is that within that chunk of dirt were four Etley points. I had found a little cache of points, my first cache find. It was not a big 25-point cache, but a cache none-the-less. I called Rick over to where the artifacts were showing up. If the artifacts were added together it would total around 50 pieces off this site. This was a major campsite. It was not just a stop along the way camp, but a rather solid seasonal camp.

What surprises me is the size of the area where all these artifacts were located. From all the artifacts found, you would think this hill must be huge, but it is no longer than a football field and about half as wide. What's more amazing is that just about all the artifacts were being found within an 8-10-inch layer of dirt. Once you dug be-low that layer, the chips and points disappeared except for burn pits that went deeper for obvious reasons. I have been collecting points/ artifacts for 15-20 years, and I have never found a site this small that was so concentrated with artifacts.

I probably have a few more points since I have two large freezer bags full of broken points. I have pieced together four points, two rectangular knives and two scrapers from broken halves. Six of those were ancient breaks. The other two were fresh breaks from the construction equipment. One Etley I pieced together from two pieces that were found a month apart. The top was on the other side of the hill from where I found the bottom. The other guys and I are going to get together sometime soon and spread our broken pieces on a table and see how many we can match. I am sure we will match a few pieces together.

Rick uncovered one of the last items to be found on the site, a nice full-grooved black and white speckled granite axe. I told him about half way through the job, "The only artifact not found out here is an axe." Well, he found it. I am sure that as the job started we would have figured out that there were artifacts on this site, but had I not found that five-inch Etley before the grading started, there is no telling how many we would have lost because we would not have been looking. But since I did find it, we started looking from day one and took a little more care when working/moving dirt on the hill area.

Before I finish this, I would like to thank, Rick, Mike and John. They are the other three people who knew about the site. I want to thank them because the four of us kept the site between us, unlike so many sites that, once points are found, the word travels like wildfire, and before you know it there are 50 people trying to look. It was also nice because I not only like to find and collect the artifacts, but I also like to get a feel for the history of the site: how long it was occupied, what time period it was occupied, the degree of craftsmanship on the site, etc. With just the four of us looking, it was a lot easier to do this.

In closing, the main reason why I decided to write this is to let all you fellow artifact and arrowhead collectors, historians, archaeologists, and everyone else know that there are still hidden sites out there. I know especially in my line of work that a lot of the choice sites, farmland and river bottom/bluff land, are already developed or will be soon. If you get discouraged just remember this site, not a farm or bluff overlooking a river, but just a small hill covered with trees. Also, if you have not yet found your site of dreams, keep looking; you'll find it.

Copyright © C.S.A.S.I.