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Moderated by : Andy B , TimPrevett , coldrum , Klingon , MickM , TheCaptain , bat400 , davidmorgan , Runemage , SolarMegalith , sem
Respond to: Pennsylvanian\'s Artifact Collection Is Resource for Schoolchildren
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from PA, USA
| New Message Posted!2009-03-28 08:15  |
I remember, when visiting a friend whose Dad farmed, seeing frames with many worked pieces hanging on the wall. We called them all "arrowheads" but there were many shapes. Mr. Erb was more persistent than most, but I think many farmers here found enough of these to get interested and start collecting. I imagine there are many families in Pennsylvania with large artefact collections.
from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2009-03-28 05:12  |
Submitted by coldrum --
The link between an ancient American Indian culture and a group of student archaeologists is a businessman who hunted animals and played Santa.
Amateur archaeologist Charles Erb lived on Main Street in Red Hill and died in 1964. He spent years walking the freshly plowed farm fields of Montgomery County, poking the earth with a long stick.
For decades, the artifacts collected by this unassuming man hung anonymously on the walls at Upper Perkiomen Middle School—until a Temple University archaeologist stopped by.
"We were awe-struck," said R. Michael Stewart, an associate professor and an expert in prehistoric Delaware Valley American Indians. At 1,980 pieces, and with its probable origins centered in the Upper Perkiomen area, the collection was the kind of find that could reveal the lifestyle of native peoples going back 10,000 to 13,000 years, Stewart said.
The artifacts are being studied by Temple University professors and graduate students, along with members of the Upper Perkiomen High School Archaeology Club. They plan to create a database and write a paper for a project expected to take years.
"It's the history of a lot of our ancestors—what they ate, how they lived," said Edward Felix, 16, a sophomore member of the high school archaeology club. "It's just interesting to hold them and think that a Native American actually used them to live."
The collection consists mostly of stones "flaked" into various shapes to be used as projectile points, for cutting and scraping, and for butchering meat.
There are also pieces of pipe, a bowl, and a smooth rectangular stone with holes in it that was probably a pendant on an ancient necklace. The artifacts were donated to the school in the early 1970s.
Archaeologist Kurt W. Carr, of the State Museum of Pennsylvania, called the collection significant. "At 1,900 pieces, there's a lot of data that can be recovered from this collection," said Carr, senior curator of archaeology at the museum.
Erb lived in Red Hill with his wife, Katie. He ran a business called Sup-Erb Brushes. After a good rain, he often enlisted next-door neighbor Clarence Bowman and Bowman's little boys, Glen and Neil, to go out and search for the artifacts.
"We would go into a cornfield, and we each take three rows," said Glen Bowman, now 65, of Telford. "You had the row that you were walking in, and you had to look to the left and right to hunt for arrowheads and artifacts."
An outdoorsman and a gardener, Erb kept a diary of the wildlife that he saw daily.
After Erb's death from throat cancer, his wife donated the collection to Upper Perkiomen Middle School.
The collection hung in the middle school undisturbed until several years later, when someone broke in and stole about 10 frames off the wall, said H. George Bonekemper, who was the school's principal at the time. That was at least half the collection.
School officials and police searched local flea markets and auction houses with no luck, Bonekemper said. The district used insurance money from the loss to hire Souderton artist William Sauts Netamuxwe Bock to paint a mural depicting Lenape Indians on the walls of the school library.
School officials declined to estimate the value of the collection, citing security issues. They met three months ago with an appraiser to decide how best to use and preserve the artifacts. The group opted for education over museum-like display, Superintendent Timothy Kirby said.
"The true value is in teaching. It's what we do," Kirby said. "This is a ready-made research project for the kids, and what could be better?"
For more, see http://www.ldnews.com/news/ci_11708445
[ This message was edited by: bat400 on 2009-03-28 05:13 ]