|A red ferruginous quartz Hourglass style bannerstone found by Mark
Palatas on August 19th, 1998. It was discovered at a construction site
on River Road, in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. This Bannerstone
is 3 1/8 inches long by 2 5/16 inches at its widest point
and narrows to 1 13/16 inches in width. It is 7/8 inches thick and
the largest diameter of the boring is 5/8 inch at one end and is½ inch
diameter at the other. Photo by Art Gerber Collection of the author
Wednesday, August 19th 1998 began just like any other day, one that I
would spend with Adam, my 2 year 11 month old son. It was also the day
that I would introduce Adam to Indian
Artifact Hunting and a day that I would find an artifact that I had been
seeking to find for 15 years.
The story begins a few days before when Steve, a friend of mine,
called me and told me of a new construction site on River Road in Louisville.
He had been at a Driving Range and saw the construction work going on
next to it. Later he walked out onto the site and, after a few minutes,
found a three quarter grooved axe. He also found extensive midden material
such as fire cracked rock (camp rock), bits of charcoal and shell, and two Adena projectile points.
On Wednesday morning artifact hunting was the furthest thing from
my mind. I had a list of tasks to do that day and started off by going
to the VET Center for vehicular emissions testing. With little Adam in
the back seat, he and I embarked upon our journey.
The VET Center on Newberg
Road was backed up considerably
so I decided to go to the VET Center just off Westport Road. As fate would
have it, this brought me to a close proximity of River Road. While waiting
in line my mind wandered back to the conversation with Steve and the
construction site. I have never found a complete three- quarter groove
axe, but I probably have more broken ones than most people do. When my car was finished I decided to take a look at the site.
When Adam and I arrived, work was in full swing. I found a nearby
spot that gave me a good view of the area and parked. I began to describe
to Adam what was going on with the large earthmovers and bulldozers. He sat
quietly, in awe, watching and listening to the big machines doing their
work. Two earthmovers were scraping up top soil from an area near the
front of my car and moving it to another area approximately 150 yards away.
Then I became keenly aware of the actions of a man walking back and
forth across the hill with a stick in his hand. Experience told me he
was an artifact hunter. I must have sat there 5 minutes wondering how
he could be finding anything in newly exposed dirt that had not been
rained upon. I slowly figured out what he was doing; he would wait for
an earthmover and then follow it as it dumped its load. While I was skeptical, curiosity got the best of
me so with Adam in one arm, I walked out to see if this fellow was finding
On the way to the hill of fill dirt, I walked through the
area the earthmovers had been scraping. It looked very promising, as there
was lots of camp rock exposed along with bits of charcoal, flint, and
bone. Upon reaching the man, I asked him if he had found anything. He held out a small white
arrowhead in his hand and said,“
The dirt they are dumping sure looks good.” I agreed as we walked
side by side. I asked him what else had been found at the site. He responded
that several arrowheads and a few three-quarter grooved axes had been found. “Have any bannerstones been found?” “Yes,” he
replied. He elaborated that a green slate Clarksville type bannerstone
had been found there nearly a week before. With that I became excited because
I had always wanted to find a nice bannerstone.
He and I then split up.
He walked the left tire track and scanned the dirt that fell off to the left,
and I walked the right
tire track and looked in the dirt falling off to the right. Two more loads
from the earthmovers yielded nothing. On the third load being dumped since
ending our conversation, I saw it! Both of us almost overlooked it.
In my wildest dreams I never thought I would find one under these circumstances;
yet lying there in the fresh dirt ahead of me was the ferruginous quartz
in the ac- companying photograph. I grabbed it so fast my recollections of
the find are blurred. I immediately ran from the area, screaming and hugging
Adam all the way to the car. After gaining my composure I went back to
the area and showed it to the man who first caught my attention. I later
came to know him as Bert. I hunted for two more hours, then, finding nothing more,
left the site a very happy person.
I revisited the site later that day
and another person found half of a quartz butterfly bannerstone on the
same hill. Five days later three pieces of another very large quartz
butterfly bannerstone were found scattered across a forty yard area.
believe that it was destined that I would find a bannerstone that day.
It was only the second construction site I ever looked in. Twelve years
removed from that day I have not looked in another.
In the many years
that I have hunted artifacts it seems that many of my best finds came
when I least expected them.