March 18, 2012. From Brenda Twiford.
The Virginian-Pilot February 27, 2000 by Mary Reid Barrow.
APPRAISALS OF ARTIFACTS SURPRISE SOME COLLECTORS.
Sheri Frisbie's thoughts about her American Indian artifact
collection were turned on end Saturday.
Frisbie brought in a clay pipe and a spear point, among other treasures she had found over the years, for experts to identify during an event at the Francis Land House.
The pipe was carefully ensconced in a box with a felt lining to protect it, while the spear point was simply stuffed in a bag with other stones.
That was before Ed Bottoms, a member of the Archaeological Society of Virginia, Nansemond Chapter, told Frisbie that her crude stone spear point was a Cumberland point, between 10,000 and 12,000 years old. The pipe, on the other hand, was much more recent.
"He said to wrap that point up,'' Frisbie said, "and up to now I've been taking care of the pipe!''
About 160 people queued up Saturday to hear what Bottoms and colleague George V. Ramsey had to say about their finds at the first Artifact and Fossil Identification Day at the historic Land House.
The Cumberland point, found in Tennessee, was a highlight of the day because it is so rare. But Bottoms also was pleased with the spear points, axes and other artifacts that came from South Hampton Roads.
"It was nice to see so many coming from this area,'' he said. "It's an opportunity to let people know that Native Americans were here thousands and thousands of years ago and not just in recent times."
Few people realize that American Indians hunted, fished and gathered in the region long before recorded history, said Joy Eliassen, education specialist at the Land House. Several decades ago, as Virginia Beach began to grow, the area was rife with archaeological specimens, particularly at construction sites and in freshly plowed farm fields.
Roger Wright's collection of almost 200 points and other artifacts, including fossilized elk and bison teeth, is a good example. Wright found his treasures almost entirely along the shoreline of Currituck Sound in front of his Knotts Island, N.C., home. He walks the beach on extremely low tides, when artifacts can be revealed in the mud.
"I've got 1,000 miles invested in what I've got here,'' he said.
Wright displayed his collection in glass cases, but others arrived with artifacts stored in buckets, cardboard boxes, grocery bags, cookie tins and tote bags. One by one, they pulled out everything from spear points to fossilized shark teeth, from giant mammoth bones to pottery shards and even a stone or two that turned out to be just stones.
Eliassen was pleased that so many people brought their finds in to be identified and is planning another identification day with the archaeological society on Oct. 28.
"I thought this would be a good idea, "Eliassen said, "because I kept hearing about people with pieces of stone stuck away in drawers.
Vicki Harvey, also an education specialist at the Land House, brought in her unusual discoveries: two fossilized crabs from Back Bay.
"They are about a million years old," Bottoms said. "The only place I've ever seen these is in Suffolk. They are very, very rare."
Jim Cason, also of Knotts Island, N.C., brought in a mortar stone, close to the size of a pie plate, that would have been used as a bowl for grinding corn and other grains with a pestle. Since rock and stone are not indigenous to this area, Cason's collecting method is to examine every rock he sees, especially if it's in a field or on the beach.
He has been hooked on his hobby ever since he found the mortar stone when he was 8 years old.
"I am intrigued by holding something in my hand," Cason said, "that someone held in their hands 3,000 or 4,000 years ago."