Noah Cordle was boogie boarding when a sharp object hit his foot. Thinking it was a crab he jumped back. But upon noticing its dark color, the 10-year-old plucked it from the surf only to discover it was an arrowhead.
Turns out, the object he found in the waters off Beach Haven, New Jersey, on summer vacation wasn’t just any arrowhead. It was a rare and “classic” Clovis point dating from 13,500 to 14,000 years ago, according to Smithsonian.com.
On Monday, Cordle, 10, and his family were at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where he gifted the ancient artifact to the museum’s collection. The museum has several hundred Clovis points, but this is the first one collected from New Jersey.
“I was already pretty interested in science before this,” Cordle told the Washington Post. “But this brings it up to a whole new level.”
Clovis people are said to be among the first inhabitants of North America. The ancient hunters would attach Clovis points to spears and throw them at creatures like mastodon, according to Dennis Stanford, a Smithsonian expert in Paleoindian archaeology and stone tool technology.
“It’s been used and re-sharpened several times,” Stanford told Cordle of his artifact find.
Reasons vary why this Clovis point made of Jasper (a yellow-brown stone) is black. Stanford said it’s because it had been in saltwater for so long, left behind when sea levels rose after the Ice Age.
Greg Lattanzi, president of the Archaeological Society of New Jersey, told Asbury Park Press that the reason is because it was buried in the sand for thousands of years without oxygen.
Lattanzi also concluded that Hurricane Sandy made Cordle’s discovery possible, saying the post-Sandy beach-replenishment project north of Beach Haven helped scoop up the Clovis point and push it to shore.
“It’s actually pretty spectacular to have something that a place like the Smithsonian would actually want,” Brian Cordle told the Washington Post. “That’s more cool than anything. I don’t even know what it’s worth financially, but I know it’s not much compared to the excitement of all this.”
Making it all the more exciting is how the discovery was made in the first place. It was quite an oddity. Smithsonian.com noted that the people who find Clovis points are usually those who are looking for them.
“That’s never happened to anybody that I know of,” Stanford said about the Clovis point washing up at Cordle’s feet. “You gotta be in the right place at the right time or it will disappear just like that. He was really lucky.”
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