Imagine going on a summer vacation with your family and returning with a 14,000 year old hunting implement that had been buried in the sand since the sea level rose after the Ice Age! For Virginia fifth-grader Noah Cordle, his interest in archaeology got fast-tracked when something odd brushed against his leg while boogie boarding on Long Beach Island. The 10-year-old, who loves science and has gone on previous searches for arrowheads with his grandfather, was savvy enough to realize that the Clovis point was more than just an ordinary bit of debris from the sea. After taking the Clovis point to a local archaeological expert in New Jersey, Noah and his family were amazed to find out that the rare find is around 14,000 years old!
Scientists now believe that the sand replenishment efforts in New Jersey following the destruction of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 may have resulted in the beach’s sand shifting and the ensuing unearthing of the Clovis point. Clovis points, known to be used for throwing at and hunting mastodon and for spearing fish, are a treasured find from the Paleoindian era, and most are unearthed as a result of a professional dig, not a random brush-by at the beach. Cordle and his family have since donated the ancient hunting tool to the National Museum of Natural History.
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All images © Donald E. Hurlbert for the Smithsonian Institution