Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Ancient Artifacts, Huntersville Edition

On Saturday, I replanted a flower bed near my garage. I have been trying to grow lavender and creeping jenny there for the past few years and the results have been underwhelming. I decided to pull everything out, double-dig the whole bed, add some peat to improve drainage and replant it. About halfway through the process, my shovel hit something metallic. Looking down, I was able to make out the remnants of some sort of cylindrical object. Believing that I might have stumbled onto a major archaeological find, I proceeded slowly, carefully removing the accumulated dirt and debris from around the object.

Although it was now badly deformed and in two pieces, it was immediately clear to me that the artifact was originally a single tube-like structure, about five inches tall and two inches in diameter. It was made from a light, flexible metal and painted in bright red, green and white shapes. Although the condition of the object made it difficult to ascertain what the design might have originally meant, it appeared to relate some a graphic description of the contents. The size and shape of the artifact suggest that it was probably a vessel used to hold and transport a liquid. The unusual metallic composition along with the bright colors and intricate design of the outside indicate that it likely had ritual or spiritual significance.

Although I am awaiting the results of the radio-carbon dating for verification, my initial estimate of its age places the artifact as mid-90s, a time when this part of North Carolina was mostly virgin forest with only a few scattered outposts of human habitation, mostly semi-nomadic tribes who fled south during this period seeking warmer weather and an abundance of purple and teal. It's fascinating to think about who the original owners of the artifact might have been, how they used it and how it came to be buried deep in a flower bed only a stone's throw from my garage. I guess I'll never know the true story, but I have a gut feeling this artifact is related somehow to the two-by-three-foot piece of foam insulation and the "Bic" firestarting device discovered during a dig in the same vicinity more than a decade ago.

Huntersville is an ancient place, full of mystery and intrigue, strange native cultures and Starbucks. Sometimes on a still night, I can sit out on my back deck and hear the rhythmic thumping and frightening whines of long-departed spirits echoing through the trees. Or maybe it's just the cars on I-77; you know they kind of sound the same.           

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