Really old stuff

Several unique items turned up at the first ever Archaeology Roadshow, held Monday night at the Castle in Marietta.

From turn-of-the-century medicine bottles to fossils that date back hundreds of millions of years, there was no lack of variety in the found treasures and curiosities that area residents brought to be inspected, identified and dated for free by Castle archaeologist Wes Clarke and Marietta College geology professor Dave Jeffery.

Marietta resident Tom Wenzel, 51, said he was glad to have a chance to learn more about a unique stone carving he has been hanging onto for quite some time.

“I found it 20 years ago. I was drilling a water well… I looked down and I noticed it,” he said.

Wenzel did some brief research after he found the carving and petroglyph.

While the rock featuring the carving was too small to be a petroglyph-which are typically images carved into large, stationary rocks- Wenzel’s piece was likely prehistoric and served the same purpose as many petroglyphs.

“Something like this was almost always ceremonial. The people who carved it believed they could project some sort of control on their environment through these carvings,” explained Clarke.

Pointing to what was possibly an eye, Clarke speculated that the image could be some type of human or animal.

Marietta resident Leight Murray, 62, brought in a Christmas present from his daughter to be identified.

Murray’s daughter Sarah, an archaeologist herself, found the fossilized limestone while doing a survey for the Tennessee Valley Authority, he said.

Jeffery surprised everyone when he dated the fossil.

“This is about 450 million years old,” he said, explaining that the mollusk that had created the fossil had a straight shell, as opposed to the spiral shell developed by its modern counterpart.

Jeffery also identified some quartz formations that had started to grow on the fossil.

The event was a nice way to combine the expertise of an archaeologist and a geologist, who often both have unique perspectives to add to a piece, said Castle executive director Scott Britton.

For example, James Kendall, 34, learned more than he expected when he came all the way from Walker, W.Va. to learn more about his arrowhead collection and ended up seeing the underlying rock formations through a tiny magnifying glass.

“Seeing the shells inside the arrowhead was interesting,” he said.

Kendall has been collecting the stone arrows since he was 5 years old.

“I wasn’t a hunter like everyone else (in my family), but I liked the woods. So I’d look for these,” said Kendall, who has around 30 arrowheads, some dating back more than 5,000 years.

It was rare to see such a pristine collection of the artifacts, said Clarke.

“You’ve found some really nice specimens. These days to find specimens that aren’t broken is rare,” he said.

Kendall’s arrowheads represented a range spanning a couple thousand years, indicating that the area where the tools were found was rich in resources.

Britton said he was impressed by the variety of artifacts that area residents had collected and found.

“We had a little of everything,” he said. “We had this little book, a North Korean deed, different Native American pottery, fossils, medicine bottles, engraved stones. It was a great mix. “

Based on the interest in Monday’s event, there might be another Archaeology Roadshow in the Castle’s future, said Britton.

“People seemed to really enjoy it. We noticed that a lot of people, after they had their things inspected, would sit down and stick around to find out more about other people’s things,” he said.