Red Barn Observatory MPC/IAU H68

Established 2006

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Excavating and Digging Artifacts and Arrowheads


Work In Progress!!

Much more information will be written here.




Pre-historic man roamed the entire state of Georgia for thousands of years, therefore, leaving traces and signs of his past everywhere.  These artifacts are identified as flint tools, arrowheads, spear points, stone tools, etc., and are usually found while walking in open fields or on a creek bank.  When an artifact is found, most people normally have a burst of excitement knowing that they have found, and are holding in their hand part of history.

Excavating and digging for artifacts is normally very tiring and exhausting work.  Most people resort to field searches because of the hard work of digging.  Other factors that arise when digging a site is heat, cold, mosquitoes, ants, snakes, and I even had a skunk to show up one day while digging.  But, the artifacts and/or fossils found usually make it worth all the hard work. 


The Excavators Tools:

The tools needed to excavate a site are mostly determined by ones own preferences.  These can range from a tractor to a small paint brush - this is completely up to the digger.  The standard "round point" shovel is probably the most common tool used in excavating, along with a small cement trowel (at least for me anyhow).  A paint brush can be used to carefully "brush" soil away from a potential artifact without disturbing the sometimes delicate item.  The brush is a must when uncovering delicate pottery! 

Most people just use a 6" - 8" cement trowel to excavate a site.  Normally when excavating a site, there's not much "digging" actually done, only careful scraping.  Shovels and larger tools can easily break the artifacts, therefore they should be used with extreme caution.  It would be a complete disaster to "chop" into a priceless pottery vase or break that once in a lifetime flint artifact.    

When searching for a site to dig, a scientific approach must be taken to effectively locate and identify sites.  Also, it is a necessity to photo, record, identify, and document all items found while excavating a site.  All of this takes lots of time and dedication.


  All of the artifacts in this photo were dug from one location. 

There are several points, blades, awls, pottery pieces, and a small hand tool.

Artifacts from Steve E. Farmer Jr.


Site Locations:

This is probably the hardest part of excavating artifacts.  Everyone always asks the same question -- "How do you know where to dig?".  That is a question that may or may not be easily answered.  How to know where to dig mostly comes with experience and studying American Indians and their lifestyles.  You have to put your self in their shoes and ask yourself this question -- "If I was to live in this area, where would I put my home?".  Several factors will need to be taken into consideration.  You will need water.  So, a permanent water source will need to be located.  This may be a river, creek, stream, and/or usually where a creek or stream connect into a river.  I have found these areas were a common place for camp sites. 

See topological map below.

The red X is marking the site where the artifacts in the image above were dug.  Notice the stream just above the X runs directly into the river to the right of the X.  The X is located on higher ground and this would help protect a homestead against flooding.  Topological maps are very useful when determining proper areas to search for artifacts.

Instead of just digging, take time for some test digs.  To do this, you simply take a shovel and dig.  Carefully examine all dirt for any signs of flint, pottery, bone, etc...  Once these items are found, then the excavation may begin.



Many things can be found at a common dig.  If it's a good site, a person can find enough artifacts to create his/her own museum.  But normally, the standard items found will be similar to the ones I have listed below.  These artifacts were dug on private property and I am the only person with permission to dig here.  If land owners know that you are searching for artifacts for fun and collection purposes only, they will usually give you permission.

Note:  Digging on government property is illegal without a permit!

All of the artifacts on this page came from an area of approximately 8' x 8' x 24" deep.  Digging on this site will continue soon.



At this dig site, I found the first larger piece of pottery at ~ 14".  In the test dig, I found several pieces of flint and pottery at 10".



Down to 16" I found a charcoal pile.  This is seen to the right of the measuring tape.

Usually when a charcoal pile is found, flint and pottery is usually mixed in with the charcoal.  Note the pottery in the second photo that was in this charcoal pile.



 More Pottery...  (note the small clay bead above the middle piece of pottery in the center photo)


 Prehistoric Charcoal



Dug flint and points.


The above photo's are just an example of what may be found during an excavation.  Most likely, that particular area was a long-term camp site and the items found were disregarded by the group of people living there at the time.  I say that, because none of the items were in "perfect" condition and lots of charcoal was found.  That tells me this area was probably used to heat treat flint and cure pottery.  The imperfect flint tools and broken pottery were left behind.  But excavation will continue in this area until no more artifacts are found.



Anytime a site is excavated or dug, good documentation should be kept.  This is best done with some type of grid system.  A grid map can be easily created by simply rough drawing the entire area around the site, including permanent landmarks (trees, large rocks, fences, creeks, ponds, etc...).  To be continued...






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Copyright 2006 The Cometary Space Web of Steve E. Farmer Jr.

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