The Arrowhead

April 28, 2016

Arrowhead found summer of 2013, Fuquay Varina, NC

What if I asked you to name a famous or well-known person from at least 100 years ago?  Mark Twain?  Twain was very famous for his books and is very well known.  What about at least 200 years ago?  How about George Washington, a leader in the American Revolutionary War, and the first American President.  How about 400 years?  William Shakespeare perhaps, the famous writer that gave us Romeo and Juliet.  What about a couple of thousand years, give or take?  Julius Caesar or Cleopatra.   We even know a wealth of information about the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun (i.e. King Tut), who lived some 3300 years ago.

My point is, all throughout history there are people that made a name for themselves, whether in battle or leadership, or through philosophy or art.  They are people that we know by name.  We know when they lived, what they did, etc.  But for every ďfamousĒ person you know, there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of people that you donít know.  There are millions upon millions of people that are born, live their lives, and die.  Their names and lives are lost to history.  They might be remembered by family and friends for a short time after their passing, but they will be gradually forgotten as the years slip by and new generations are born.  Iím not famous, so I know that will also be my fate.

In the summer of 2013 I was pushing a lawn mower along my driveway, trying to at least level out all the weeds.  The sweat dripped down my face, stinging my eyes.   At one point, I looked through the dusty haze at my feet and caught a glimpse of a white rock.  But this was no ordinary rock.  It was a piece of quartz that had been altered and shaped into a weapon by a human hand.  I had found an arrowhead.

As most everyone knows, an arrowhead begins as an ordinary rock or piece of stone.  They are shaped into a spear point, a knife, etc. by chipping or flaking pieces off.  And while many refer to the smaller ones as ďarrowheadsĒ, the natives of North America didnít invent the bow until around 500AD.  So any arrowhead thatís older than that was probably used on a spear or lance, not an actual arrow for a bow.  At first I was fascinated by the specifics of the arrowhead.  Its shape, its composition, etc.  I took it to a local expert to get his assessment.  From looking at the shape of an arrowhead, a knowledgeable person can assign it to a particular style or category, which also puts a date range on it.  My expert thought mine to be a Savannah River point.  Okay, are you ready for the date range?  It could be from 3000 to 5000 years ago!

Most people think of Indians, or Native Americans, in regards to history from the 1400s into the 1800s.  We met them when America was discovered, and fought them into the late 1800s.  This arrowhead predates that range by thousands of years.  It goes back to a time before the tribes of Cherokee, or Apache, etc.  Itís kind of hard to wrap your mind around the age of this piece.  For biblical folks, it could pre-date Moses.  It could have been fashioned just as the Mayan civilization was being founded.   While major well known events were happening in other parts of the world, on a piece of dirt that would later be known as North Carolina, a man was fashioning a weapon out of a piece of rock.

I then became obsessed with wanting to know what can never be known.  I wanted to know more about the man who created this arrowhead.  His name, his life, and all that he was has been lost to the tide of time.  While all I know for sure is that he crafted an arrowhead, and walked in what would become my front yard thousands of years later, I can still wonder about him and his life.  Was he a good man, or did he have an evil, bitter heart?  Did he seek peace, or did he wage warfare?  Was he important?  Was he a leader among his people?  Or was he just an ordinary man, living out his days in relative obscurity.  Did he have a wife?  Or even two?  Did he have children that carried on his legacy after he was gone?  Do his relatives still live today, not knowing of their long lost ancestor?  Did he look upon the same stars I look upon, and wonder what they were?  Did he tell great stories and adventures around the campfire at night?  Did he relax under a tree one day, on a cool afternoon, and contemplate what the future might hold for him?  Did he laugh and play?  Or was his life miserable, scavenging for food every day until he died and was consumed by bugs and vultures?

Iíve tried to imagine what his life was like, but thereís absolutely no way to know.  Did his life upon this earth even matter?  While I might not know his name or what he did during his life, in a comic sense he is ďfamousĒ to me.  Heís been gone and forgotten for thousands of years, but when he fashioned that arrowhead out of a piece of stone, he set in motion a series of events that would eventually lead to me finding it.  I might not know exactly where he walked, but I do know that his weathered hands once held the very same arrowhead that I am holding today.  No other human hands have touched it since he last used it.  Iím a sentient being, thinking about a man I donít know, thatís been gone for thousands of years.  But in my research and thoughts, I am giving him and his life significance again.  Thatís pretty deep!

 


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