ANCIENT BLADE RAISES WORLDWIDE INTEREST
A quartz crystal microblade which was unearthed in Washington
state is being recognized as a major find said an archaeologist
at a 3,000year-old Indian village site on the Olympic Peninsula.
The dig is the result of a unique cooperation between Washington
State University and the Makah Indian Tribe, whose artifacts are
being recovered. A WSU student made the discovery on July 9 while
working on the excavation project on the banks of the Hoko river
in northwestern Washington. Found was a rare quartz crystal which
shows exceptional skill and craftsmanship.
"It's a major discovery," said Dale Croes, a Washington
State University archaeologist. "It's just beautiful. It
was very well preserved. These blades are of real interest because
they're very sharp and very specialized tools."
The tool is the only intact blade of its type ever to be found
in the Western Hemisphere. Ten additional quartz crystal blades
were found at the site, and other blades have been found along
the West Coast.
"My guess is that it was used by the West Coast Indians to
carefully cut leather, hides and skins that
were still wet", Croes said. "It could cut through them
like butter." The blade, which is the first ever found with
a handle, is not as thin as a metal razor blade, but its edges
are just as sharp.
According to Croes, the blade could have been used for minor surgery
among the Makah Indians. You can hold the blade in your hands
just as you might have almost 3,000 years ago. The skills needed
to produce the microblade equals any "high-tech" technology
of today, yet it was made by Indians at the same time King Tut
was just rising to power.
The microblade is close to an inch long, one-fourth inch wide and
one-sixteenth inch thick, and has a 6-inch cedar handle bound with
cherry bark. The handle shows that the artifact was a complete tool,
and that crystal was used in fine craftsmanship.
Working on an archaeological dig is exciting, according to Croes,
but still a lot of hard work. "We're having to work fast just
to beat the winter floods," he said. "Just the other day
we found a spruce-root basket which is spectacular; it looks like
it was just made." Because of funding from the local phone
company, Pacific Northwest Bell, digging has continued. The basket
and, perhaps, the microblade, would have been washed out to the
ocean had they not been found.
After each item is recovered it is cleaned and cataloged at Neah
Bay, home of the Makah Tribe. Hopes are that the items may be placed
on display at the Tribe's museum as a significant reminder of a
rich cultural past by a people who continue to exist to this day.