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Ancient spear point unearthed at park

SAFETY HARBOR

Three weeks ago, a crew from the city's public works department was digging post holes for a new shelter at Marshall Street Park.

Using a backhoe, they piled the dirt in a mound and left it there as work continued.

Then it started to rain — hard. The water exposed lots of rocks and shells.

About 8:30 a.m. Monday, Jacob Dawson, one of the workers, was looking down and kicking the dirt when something caught his eye.

"I picked it up and thought it was a rock," he said.

He was about to throw it when suddenly he realized it might be an arrowhead instead.

He asked his supervisor, Rick Burke, for his take on it.

"He said it was a spearhead and went and washed it off," Dawson said.

Then Burke quickly called the Safety Harbor Museum of Regional History.

Bobbie Davidson, director of operations, and James Dwyer, curator of archaeology, responded immediately.

Dwyer examined it and found that it was a spear point made of chert (resembles flint) between 6,000 and 8,000 years old — a relatively rare find in these parts.

"It could have been lost while hunting or was used to process food, cutting meat," Dwyer said.

He plans to look at it under a microscope to see if it was ever used.

The 4-inch long, 1 1/4-inch wide spear point was buried 4 feet underground along with bone fragments, a piece of charcoal and an animal tooth fragment at what could have been an ancient barbecue site.

They are found mostly in the southeast part of the United States.

Made by people from the early archaic period after the last ice age, thousands of years before the Tocobaga Indians made the area their home, the tip is a bit dull. Surprisingly, its edges are still sharp. Could it kill a person today?

"I'm sure it could," Davidson said.

Davidson and Dwyer are so grateful to Dawson and Burke for calling the museum that they are making the two workers a plaque.

"They could have pawned it," said Dwyer.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

>>IF YOU GO

Regional museum

You can see the 6,000- to 8,000-year-old spear point at the Safety Harbor Museum of Regional History starting today. The museum is at 329 Bayshore Blvd. S. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Ancient spear point unearthed at park 07/15/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 20, 2008 7:51am]
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