Fort McCoy News Aug. 25, 2017

Fort McCoy ArtiFACT

These two Plainview projectile points are some of the many artifacts recovered from Fort McCoy.

These points are from the Late Paleoindian cultural period, and are approximately 9,000-10,000 years old. While Plainview points can be found as far away as Texas, these two are made from a stone called Prairie du Chien chert, which can be found in Monroe County.

Both of these projectile points are much smaller than they would have originally been and have been very heavily "reworked" as a result of resharpening and repair over a long period of use.

On the bottom quarter of the broken grey point, you can see the part that was under the binding retains is original shape, while the exposed blade has been reshaped as the point was sharpened.

Plainview points
Pictured are two Plainview projectile points
recovered from Fort McCoy.
Photo by Alex Woods

Much like a pencil, projectile points get smaller and smaller as you resharpen them. This particular point exhibits a great deal of care to retain attractive flaking even as it was resharpened.

Plainview points such as these would have been used both as knives and as projectile points for hunting big game with a spearthrowing device called an atlatl. Other Plainview points have been found with the remains of a large, extinct form of bison called Bison antiquus.

The people who used these tools lived in a changing Wisconsin. The Ice Age was coming to an end, the environment was changing, and species such as mammoth and mastodon were replaced with species more familiar to us today, such as white tailed deer.

Visitors and employees are reminded they should not collect artifacts on Fort McCoy or other government lands and leave the digging to the professionals.

Any individual that excavates, removes, damages, or otherwise alters or defaces any historic or prehistoric site, artifact, or object of antiquity on Fort McCoy is in violation of federal law.

The discovery of any archaeological artifact should be reported to the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch at 608-388-4793.

   (Article prepared by the Colorado State University Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands and Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch)