A London, Ont., woman was surprised to find a pair of ancient arrowheads, potentially dating back more than 2500 years, right in her backyard.
For about seven years, Martha McIntosh has been patiently digging up a garden in her south London home. The previous owners lived there for at least 40 years but didn't really tend the yard, she said.
On Sunday, McIntosh spotted something with an edge while her daughter was moving a plant and immediately knew what it was. She'd encountered the same thing a few years ago while digging up the ground just a few feet away.
"After I found the first one, it didn't occur to me I would ever find another one," she said. "It was very exciting."
McIntosh was able to quickly identify the small, stone weapon tip because her grandfather, who lived in a rural area near Lake Erie, found quite a few arrowheads himself decades ago.
"When I saw the edge, I just knew because [my grandfather] had shown me and I remember asking him when I was little, 'Why did you find them all? Why can't I find one?'"
"And I remember him saying, 'If you just look and keep your head down, you'll find one someday.'"
Weapon tips date back to 800 and 400 BC
The two weapon tips, which are about the length of a ChapStick, date as far back to 800 BC, according to Christopher Ellis, a retired Western University archealogy professor and president of the local chapter of the Ontario Archaeology Society.
Ellis said he would need to use a scale and actually hold the arrowheads to give a detailed overview, but said the characteristics seen in pictures CBC sent him are quite distinctive.
The side notches seen on the arrowhead on the left are indicative of the Early Woodland Meadowood culture and date anywhere from 800 to 400 BC, Ellis said, adding they can be found throughout southwestern Ontario. Meanwhile, the arrowhead on the right with its clear Christmas tree-like shape makes Ellis almost certain it's a Kramer point, which are found primarily in the lower Great Lakes areas an date back to 400 BC.
Weapon tips tend to stand the test of time because the stone was heavily shaped and worked on in order to make them sharp, Ellis said. The artifacts go so far back in time that Ellis said it's almost impossible to tie them to a particular historically known Indigenous group.
"People have lived in this area for at least 13,000 years. They've learned to cope with the environment and their situation in many different ways," Ellis said.
"[These artifacts] document the archaeological record and the things that people have faced over the years and how they've changed. They tell you something about what it means to be human," he added.
McIntosh said finding these artifacts make her feel much more connected to her property.
"You feel it, you touch it and think how long ago it was that someone made it. It's powerful," she said.
"Even though it does give me a connection to my house, I know that this is from a culture that was here long before us and it's kind of ironic because we took the land away from them."
Here's what you should do if you encounter an artifact
While many people might not even be able to identify an artifact, those who do should make it known.
The Museum of Ontario Archaeology (MOA) recommends landowners and others who accidentally discover these hidden treasures to report them to the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries' Archaeological office, so the discovery is added to the registry maintained by the province.
"Doing so ensures that knowledge of this important archaeological find and Indigenous heritage is not lost, especially if significant land disturbances are planned in the future for that location," said Neal Ferris, the Lawson chair of Canadian Archaeology and spokesperson for the MOA.
Ferris added landowners may wish to share their find with volunteer organizations like the Ontario Archaeological Society or the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, who can help identify the artifacts and direct people on how to report them.
McIntosh said she's happy to share her finds with enthusiasts or any Indigenous group wanting to take a look and hopes to potentially uncover more.
"I'll have to get back out there in the garden and do some more digging."
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