Dating obsidian arrowheads
Made by the Tarahumare [sic] Indians of northern Mexico.” Immediately below this entry, Coane listed artifact number Y11: “Obsidian arrow head found on the shore of the Connecticut River” (Figure 2).The Mexican arrowhead appears to be a tourist-trade item, and, for the purposes of this report, we will only refer to the arrowhead reportedly found in Vermont.
Like many collectors in the State, Coane presented lectures on archaeology and history to local schools, and he used his artifact collection as an educational tool.An early snowstorm and the absence of heat in the PHS museum produced somewhat uncomfortable working conditions, yet they photographed and briefly described the collection before leaving for the day.Loring’s description of the collection drew some general conclusions about its potential usefulness in addressing research questions in the Connecticut Valley.Occurrences of so-called exotic artifacts are not uncommon in Vermont.Loring (2002) reports a biface found in Franklin County that appears to be made from quartzite from northern Labrador.Although he did not record find spots (provenience) for all of the collection, most of the artifacts appear were found at the West River site (VT-WD-3) located at the confluence of the West and Connecticut rivers.
Like many artifact collections held in private institutions throughout the state, Coane’s collection has received only passing attention from the professional community.
Coane, curated by the Putney Historical Society (PHS) is another occurrence of a so-called exotic artifact reportedly found in Vermont; however, the distances between Vermont and any known obsidian source are substantially greater than chert sources in the Midwest or Labrador.
Could this obsidian artifact have been traded into Vermont prehistorically?
Archaeologists are particularly interested in identifying evidence of prehistoric long-distance trade and exchange, and artifacts made from stone are some of the best records of such exchange because they can be traced back to specific geological outcrops.
Archaeologists often develop an intuitive knowledge about the types of stone and their potential sources that were used prehistorically.
Coane donated his collection to the PHS in the early 1970s, where it remains today.