WESTBROOK — Evan Honeyman usually finds relaxation and solitude at the beach. But this time he found something much more interesting on a recent stroll.
Washed up on Quotonset Beach on the Sound, with the tide lapping at his feet, was an artifact believed to be between 1,000- to 6,000-years-old.
“I always wanted to discover an arrowhead or a spearhead or some sort of artifact, but I’ve never been lucky enough and I never really knew where to look,” said the 29-year-old Farmington resident.
“I happen to spot this thing just get washed up right in front of me and it immediately caught my attention,” he says of his newest beach treasure while visiting his family beach house.
“When I picked up, I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to get excited, but I think that this is something,’” he says, laughing.
Honeyman quickly emailed photos to three individuals with knowledge of historic artifacts, Westbrook resident and avocational archeologist Gary Nolf, Connecticut State Archaeologist Sarah Sportman and Bentley University’s Dean of Arts & Sciences Rick Oches.
While difficult to determine, via photographs, the exact material, age or use of the artifact, all three individuals confirmed it was historic in nature.
The object, believed to be a spear or arrowhead, possibly made up of basalt, rhyolite or mudstone.
“People often find things that wash up on the beach for various reasons,” says Sportman. “One of the reasons being that our shorelines are more inundated by water than they were at different times in the past, so a lot of archaeological spots are actually underwater. Those areas that would have been land are now underwater.”
Sportman says that the photographs indicate the object could have been much bigger, but either by chiseling away or wave action over the years it has changed from its original form.
“It was a very small point, so it looks it could have been reworked down from a larger one or that — lots of people would make these things and try to get as much use out of them as possible. So, if it was damaged during hunting or some other kind of activity they would chip it away a little bit to make it sharp again and do that several times until they lost it or it became damaged beyond repair,” she explains. “So sometimes they would become smaller and smaller and smaller.”
This object could have been used as a spear or an arrow or anything that required a sharp point, she notes.
“They were kind of like a multi-tool because it was a sharp end so you could cut things with them or scrap things with them, people used them for a lot of different things,” Sportman adds.
Nolf, the first president and founder of Friends of the Office of State Archeology, Inc., has done extensive archeological digs in the area. After seeing Honeyman’s photos, he believes this was probably a spearpoint.
“The bow and arrow didn’t come into this area until 1,500 years ago, so that’s relatively new,” this archeologist says. “So not everything you find are arrowheads, more so what you find are spearpoints used with what we call an atlatl.”
An atlatl is a weapon designed to hurl a 5- to 8-foot spear that dates back to sometime about 15,000 years ago.
Honeyman enjoys walks along the beach while visiting his parents in town. While he walks, daily about a half mile, he often picks up miscellaneous trash including old fishing line, plastic bottle, bags, straws and Styrofoam.
While Honeyman was not specifically searching for the artifact when he found it, he was in a perfect spot for such finds says Nolf, referring to the various tribes that called the shoreline home, including the Hammonasets, Pequots and Mohegans.
Honeyman says he has studied New England Native American culture for many years and is delighted he now possesses a piece of that history.
While Sportman says this object, though old, is a common find, she applauds Honeyman for contacting her office.
“….we can record those locations and we have that data to help us better understand settlement patterns and where sites are on the landscape,” she says.
While some individuals donate historical pieces to local and state organizations, many keep them, which is what Honeyman plans to do. He has the perfect wall, in his home office, to hang a shadow box with the artifact displayed for viewing, especially during ZOOM meeting.
“People can see it and ask questions, because some of these ZOOM meetings can be a little bit tedious,” he says. “Everyone’s on ZOOM meetings all day, so if there’s something that can spur some interest and start a conversation…”
As for his daily walks, Honeyman will be looking more closely as he travels the beaches.
“It’s very exciting and definitely fuels my curiosity even more,” he says.
Nolf has some advice for Honeyman.
“Keep looking,” he says, “because if it came out of a site there definitely could be more.”