Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/160

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148
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

these rude spear-points are found, as a rule, are very significant. In certain upland fields, never far from water-courses, and which were the high, dry, habitable localities when the later gravel areas were yet comparatively low and swampy, these objects are found in great abundance, and very often not associated with the familiar forms of Indian implements. Again, they also occur in the alluvial mud which has been for centuries, and is still, accumulating over the tide-water meadows that skirt the banks of the Delaware River from Trenton to the sea. Now, it may be maintained that we are without warrant in assuming that the age or object of any given form of stone implement can be determined by the character of the locality where it happens usually to be found—exception, of course, being made to the palæolithic implements of an earlier geological period. To a certain extent this is true. A bead is none the less an ornament, whether dredged from the river-bottom or found in an upland field; and yet how very seldom does any implement or other relic of the Indians occur, except where we should expect to find them! In basing any conclusions upon the characteristic features of a locality where implements are found, it is necessary to determine if there has been any recent general disturbance of the spot. This is readily done usually, and the principal barrier to a logical conclusion is removed. Long experience in archæological field-work has fully convinced me that, in the vast majority of instances, stone implements are practically in the same position that they were when buried, lost, or discarded. A single specimen or even a hundred might mislead; but it becomes safe to base a conclusion upon the locality, when we have the material in such abundance as in this instance of these rude spear-points, and find that fully eighty per cent are from the alluvial mud of the river meadows, or such isolated upland areas as have been described. But more significant than all else is the fact that these simply designed spear-points are all of argillite, the same material of which are made the rude implements found in the gravel. There is, therefore, no break, as it were, in the sequence of events in the occupation of the region by man—no change of race, no evidence of an abrupt transition from one method of tool-making to that of another, but merely an improvement that was doubtless as gradual as the change from the epoch of glacial cold to that of our moderate climate of to-day. What at first sight appears fatal to the views here expressed is that a people so far advanced as to make these spear-points should have made many other forms of stone implements; but only the former are found deeply buried in the mud of the river. If, as is believed, the spears were used in fishing more than for any other purpose, they alone would be likely to be lost. Other objects in use upon their village sites would seldom, if ever, be taken to the fishing-