Salvaging Pieces of the Past

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Salvaging Pieces of the Past

There are few things I enjoy more than getting out into the field and trying to track down old artifacts myself. It’s one of the most rewarding activities I can think of, and not just because of the little trinkets and paraphernalia I sometimes find. Some people say that taking the road less traveled will lead a person to more interesting travels. While that might be true for some, I contest that there are still plenty of adventures to be had where people have already come and gone. Tracking down bits of the past and preserving them is something any historian would enjoy, I imagine.

It’s not at all difficult to track down maps of the paths walked by various tribes that lives throughout North America. The real difficulty is finding things in these same places which have already been excavated, examined and exploited by others who share my interest for digging up artifacts. To be fair though, even places which have already been presumably picked clean may yield some little morsels now and then. Arrowheads of flint and various stone don’t get too many people excited, but I still thrill at every one that I find. Who knows what beast or man each might have been used against?

Most of the good pieces have already been found and dragged away to various museums and historical societies around the world already. But I do still find bits of pottery and tools on occasion, more than enough to keep me eager to go out searching again. For me, the most difficult part of it all is preserving the rare gems that I’m actually able to find. Truly fine, gentle tools are needed to clean some specimens. I prefer to use items such as these to brush away dirt and grit from the artifacts I find. Though they are used for a number of other purposes, I can easily attach a brush head and use them for cleaning.

Generally, I find it is better to use softer bristles which require more brushing rather than stiffer bristles which can scratch up or damage the things I find. If the item recovered happens to be made from stone or some other material which won’t be destroyed by water, I also try to wash the item while cleaning it to make the dirt looser and easier to remove. In my experience, as long as you aren’t dealing with paper or wooden goods, this is a safe practice.

Wouldn’t it be quite frustrating to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles from home, hoping to find something that really connects you to the past, only to find the thing and inadvertently destroy it through reckless care? This has happened to much better people than me I am afraid. Not to say I’m any professional archaeologist or anything like that – I just run into some of the same issues they do since we all happen to enjoy hanging around and investigating similar places. With that said, guides focused on that topic might also be helpful to you when looking for native artifacts.

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America Before Europeans