Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Artifact fanatics

Steve Peterman displays part of his collection of American Indian artifacts. A collector for decades, the London resident hopes to start a Madison County chapter of the Archaeaology Society of Ohio.

In the early 1970s during his high school days, Steve Peterman helped his uncle farm and would spot arrowheads from aboard the tractor. He remembers his first find—a three-inch long, white flint from the Hopewell era. Ever since, hes been hooked on American Indian artifacts and their history, especially those of Ohio.

Now, the London resident hopes to gather other Madison Countians interested in local archaeology to form a new chapter of the Archaeology Society of Ohio.

Founded in 1941, the state organization is the oldest and largest archaeological society in the United States, with over 2,500 members from all walks of life. Its purpose is to discover and conserve archaeological sites and material in Ohio and promote better understanding among students and collectors of archaeological material, both professional and non-professional.

Peterman first became a member of the state organization 40 years ago. After he took up collecting seriously again 12 years ago, he rejoined the group, which meets four times a year.

“People who are into Indian artifacts like to mess with them a little more often than four times a year, Peterman said.

A good place to get that fix is through membership in one of the state organizations 29 chapters. Several surrounding counties have chapters, but Madison County does not.

“Id like to get a chapter going here and meet once a month or every other month, Peterman said.

He looks forward to swapping stories of discoveries, whether the items were found in the field or at an estate sale. He hopes for a show-and-tell atmosphere, in which members bring in and talk about unique items from their collections.

One of Steve Petermans favorite pieces in his collection is this moss agate flint he found in West Jefferson. When held up to light, it glows.

“I could go on all day, he said, referring to the stories he has to tell about his own collection, all but two pieces of which are from Ohio and many of which are from Madison County.

He has flint tools, grooved stone axe heads, stone pestles, arrow points, drills, awls and paint pots, dating from 1,500 to over 10,000 years old. Some hes found himself, like his prized personal discovery—a moss agate flint he found in West Jefferson that glows when put up to a light. Others he has purchased from other collectors or at various sales.

“I like the idea that you can lay these artifacts out on a table by type and put together a picture of what was happening back then, Peterman said.For example, if you find several flints from the same area that are broken, it was likely a temporary hunting camp where theyd throw off the broken bases and put on new ones.

Just trying to grasp the concept of something that is thousands of years old and, in many cases, intricately made is part of the ongoing allure for Peterman.

“To think people made this with a piece of rock or bone or antler…I couldnt do it today with a machine, he said.

Anyone interested in the idea of a Madison County chapter of the Archaeology Society of Ohio is encouraged to contact Steve Peterman at (740) 837-0143.

 

Ohio archaeology expert hails from Plain City

At a Madison County Soil and Water Conservation program held earlier this summer, Robert Converse talked about Indian artifacts found at the Little Darby Nature Preserve located east of Plumwood in Madison Countys Monroe Township.

Robert N. Converse, one of the foremost authorities on Ohios American Indian artifacts, resides in Plain City.

For over 40 years, Converse has served as editor of The Ohio Archaeologist, a quarterly journal published by the Archaeology Society of Ohio. He also has written several books, considered by many to be the go-to resources for artifact history and identification. They include:

The Archaeology of Ohio—about the prehistoric people of Ohio and the Ohio River valley.
Ohio Flint Types—229 pages of prehistoric Indian projectile and tool type illustrations.
Ohio Slate Types—photographs of and information on over 450 slate and hardstone artifacts.
Prehistoric Stone Tools—a guide to stone tools used by prehistoric people in the Ohio Valley and adjacent areas.
Glacial Kame Indians—a catalogue of 35 Glacial Kame sites and artifact illustrations.

Converse regularly speaks on the topic of Ohio archaeology and travels to chapter meetings throughout the state, in addition to serving on several committees with the state organization.

“Bob, of everybody, has been my biggest mentor, said London resident Steve Peterman, who hopes to start a chapter of the Archaeology Society in Madison County.Hes never too busy to show his collection or share information.

To order one of Converses books or learn more about the Archaeology Society of Ohio, go to www.ohioarch.org.

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