Central States Archaeological Societies
Central States Archaeological Societies
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Some Things Are Just Meant To Be

by Mark D. Palatas

Central States Archaeological Societies 2011 October Journal

Louisville, Kentucky

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 anything.

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 hourglass bannerstone 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.

I 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.