|The quartz butterfly bannerstone. It measures 2 ¾ inches wide
(held together). The wings are 1 5/8 inches at the tallest point. The
center of stone where the hole is drilled is 7/8 inches tall Center and ¾ inches
deep across top of hole edge to edge.
I and my husband Mark, have been surface hunting for artifacts
for over twenty-five years together now. He is a native of western Kentucky,
and has hunted them off and on all his life. He was raised in the Ohio River
bottoms, and it was a family activity for them when they were young. It has
always been one of our favorite pastimes, as we both enjoy the outdoors.
He is a natural at finding them, and I am the one who does the research on
what we find.
On Sunday, June 15, 2008, we headed to a field in the bottoms that we have
permission to hunt. It was a sunny afternoon, and the fields had dried out
after the spring backwater had receded. We always spread out in the fields,
but stay within yelling distance, so we can share our finds. I was in a lower
section, when Mark holds something up and starts toward me. He knows I do
the research, and he asks “What is this?” At first glance he
wasn’t sure of the material. I was once again, amazed and envious of
his luck (or skill, as he calls it) at making great finds. I had only seen
a butterfly bannerstone in pictures in the reference books, but I knew that’s
what we had! And the material was gorgeous! We both scoured the area where
he had picked it up, but no trace of the missing piece or pieces. This is
a field where we mostly find points and tools. There is a lot of lithic scatter
and debitage, but strangely we have never found any pottery shards. He let
me be “the keeper of the find” and I held it in my hand, feeling
the smoothness. I kept looking at it, over and over for the rest of our hunt.
We examined it closer when we got home.
|When the bannerstone is held up to sunlight its colors resemble
those of a vivid sunset.
|The arrows point out the spot where the two halves meet. The
larger portion (on left) is 2 inches in length. The smaller portion
(right) is 3/4 inches in length. The two pieces were reunited almost
two years to the day after the larger piece was found in 2008.
The interior of the drilled hole has symmetrical rings clearly visible when
light is shined through it. I learned that this is from the drilling process,
which is accomplished with grains of sand. This makes sense, because the
soil in these fields is very sandy, being so close to the Ohio River. From
what I can determine, the material is blood quartz. The reddish coloring
is more pronounced on the rounded outsides of the drilled hole. I knew it
was special and it was hard to put it away with our other finds. I finally
decided to string it on a leather cord, and hang it on my rear view mirror
in “Catawba” my 4Runner, that I drove to work every day, as well
as when we went artifact hunting. It became a kind of touchstone for me and
always made me smile.
Fast forward almost two years to the day. It was Saturday, June 12, 2010.
Mark had gotten off work at noon, and we decided to go hunting for the rest
of the afternoon. We stopped at a field that bordered the field where we
found the bannerstone. We got out and began our usual “walking around,
looking down” pattern. I heard a voice, and noticed that Mark was talking
to a farmer who farmed a neighboring field. I just kept on with my walking
and let them talk.
In a bit, Mark came across the field, and I could tell he was not a happy
camper. Now, the farmer in question has known Mark his entire life. He has
a reputation as being a testy fellow at times. Seems he did not believe we
had permission to walk these fields. He claimed to have no cell signal there
in the bottoms, so could not call the farmer who had given us permission.
Rather than let him ruin our afternoon, we decided to load up and simply
move to the next field. As we were driving down the rutted field road, Mark
made the comment “I’m just going back to that other field and
find the rest of that” pointing to the bannerstone hanging from my
mirror. I laughed and said “Sure you are” glad that we could
just move to the next field and continue hunting.
|The time-consuming drilling is easy to see in the hole. Each line represents where the drill stopped and started again.
We bumped and bounced our way to the end of the field closest to the river.
Again, I took the lower end of the field, and Mark struck off for where he
remembered finding the bannerstone. We’d only been looking about 10
minutes or so, and I hear “I think I found a piece of it!” I
start toward him as he is heading my way. He is all smiles, but I am still
skeptical. He reaches me, holds the piece up, and asks “Isn’t
this part of it?” I cannot believe my eyes! I tell him, “That’s
not part of it, that’s all of it!” I had been looking at the
stone for two years, daily and I knew on sight that this was the rest of
it. We didn’t stop hunting, but I can’t say that I remember anything
else that we found that day. I know we did find some, but that one piece
just crowded them out of my memory. When we got back to the truck, we took
the bannerstone off the mirror, held the piece to it, and were amazed once
again that it was all there. So many questions—How had it not been
shattered into pieces when it was broken off? How had it stayed there with
the Ohio rolling over it for two more seasons? How had it stayed safe from
disks, planters, and combines for two years? I will never know the answers
to these questions. I do know that every time I look at this extraordinary
piece, I feel such a sense of wonder, and a connection to a gifted, talented
human being. It’s an indescribable feeling to know that our hands were
the first human hands to have touched his creation in so many years, and
we hope he would be pleased with the awe and reverence it makes us feel toward
those who were here so long ago, and left only these small traces of who
they were for us to know them by.
|The complete bannerstone with sunlight shining through it.