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12,500-year-old broken point found on weekend dig


October 13, 2010
RANDOLPH — The date "10-10-10" will hold special meaning for Laura Vilsack for the rest of her life.

It was the day that the 21-year-old University of Houston senior discovered the most exciting find —on the "Octoberfest" on the Columbus Day weekend organized by state archeologist Dr. Richard "Dick" Boisvert on the Potter site near the Gorham town line.

When Ms. Vilsack uncovered her find, crews were beginning to wrap up their work by completing pit profiles and getting ready to backfill a number of square excavations.

At 2:40 p.m., Ms. Vilsack, an anthropology major with a minor in geology, found an inch-and-a-half-long hand-fabricated base (lower half) of what had been intended to be a fluted stone point. But, apparently, Dr. Boisvert explained, its Paleo-Indian maker some 12,500 calendar years ago broke the point across its middle while trying to chip out a flute — a central groove or channel — to make it easier it attach to a shaft.

Dr. Boisvert said that the base and other fragments look very much like the points found at the Bull Brook site in Ipswich, Mass., one of the largest Paleo-Indian sites in North America.

A Houston native, Ms. Vilsack has participated in

State Conservation and Rescue Archaeology Program (SCRAP) field schools over the last two summers: Concord in 2010, and in Randolph and Jefferson in 2009. This was her first Octoberfest.

Ms. Vilsack also found a black stone biface.

Other volunteers also found channel flakes and fragments of both scrapers and small tools.

On Saturday night, 44 volunteers, including five Canadians, slept in tents on flat ground on the edge of a now-nearly-drained beaver pond when temperatures dropped into the low 30s.

Landowners Bob Potter and his wife Roberta Arbree are generous in giving Octoberfest participants permission to camp out on-site, Dr. Boisvert explained gratefully.

The state archeologist will lead a six-week SCRAP field school in Jefferson over the summer of 2011 in three two-week segments, running from June 27 to Aug. 5, with an overnight camp site and support facilities in Randolph. College credits may be earned through Plymouth State University.

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