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Geography student finds 2,000-year-old Native American spear and arrow points

Arrow and spear points discovered by Mirea

Mirea Lauria (in orange) with the Sussex geography class in the Mojave Desert.

A student who took part in a field trip to Southern California has discovered 2,000-year-old Native American spear and arrow points.

Mirea Lauria, a 2nd year Geography student in the School of Global Studies, found the Native American artefacts whilst taking part in a field trip to the Mojave Desert. Mirea came across the two blades whilst exploring the sediments of an ancient lake, known as Lake Manix, which existed across Southern California’s Mojave region around 25,000 years ago. 

Californian researchers think the unfinished blades were made by nomadic Native Americans somewhere between 1,400 and 2,100 years ago. It’s believed the smaller find would have been used for an arrow or dart and the larger for a spear or knife. The artefacts were found next to each other and researchers believe it is possible they were deliberately buried together as part of a larger cache, to be retrieved at a later date.

The spear and arrow points have since been formally deposited with the San Bernardino County Museum in California and will be made available for teaching purposes.

Mirea Lauria, the Sussex Geography student who found the ancient artefacts, said: "I was astounded to find out these artefacts were genuine, let alone 2,000 years old! One of the most exciting things about donating these artefacts is that others will be able to see them too and that they can be appreciated.

“Being in the field was really exciting and I recommend those that have an opportunity to go abroad to take it; it's an experience that may not come round twice."

Dr Mick Frogley, a Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography at Sussex and leader of the field class, said: “These finds represent a small but fascinating window into the past.

“At around the same time that the Romans were marching into Gaul, in this corner of North America somebody was deliberately fashioning these blades by hand from local materials to be used for hunting and fishing.

“At Sussex we believe that students should be given as many opportunities as possible to get out of the classroom and experience the landscape under their fingernails - this is a brilliant example of how our students can achieve remarkable things whilst they are learning.”

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Posted on behalf of: Lynsey Ford
Last updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2018