Over the years, archaeologists have discovered interesting artifacts on land DPL owns in southern Ohio. As of October 1, 2017, archaeological sites near DPL plants are owned and operated by DP&L's affiliate, AES Ohio Generation, LLC.
An axe head like this was found in a prominent location on a fireplace mantle of the former Watson farm residence located at DPL’s Greenlee Tract. Archaeologists, working for DPL at the Greenlee Tract, discovered this axe head in a cooking pit dating to some 4,000 years ago. It is most likely that the Watsons turned up what became a fireplace ornament when working their fields. Placing their find in a prominent location in their home suggests it had value, that the relic was worthy of sharing with visitors.
While excavating one of the hundreds of prehistoric pits within the Greenlee Tract, one archaeologist made an unusual discovery. Thrown in the trash pit along with broken fragments of pottery, pieces of broken stone and burnt animal bones, was a tiny, cone‐shaped, fired‐clay object. Upon close analysis, it was determined that the object was a miniature clay ceramic pot. Referred to as “Annie’s Pot” after the archaeologist who found it, this 1500‐year old artifact provided a unique opportunity to study how children may have learned to appreciate and make pottery.
Practice pots were created as teaching aids for young children to show them the important art of pottery production. Annie’s pot, which was less than 2‐inches in height, was a small‐scale replica of the type of pots that community members were making during this time. This pot was formed as a simple pinch‐pot with uneven wall thickness and a dilapidated rim, showing a lack of skill that is not representative of adult potters. Several crescent‐shaped dimples were observed along portions of the surface, which may represent finger‐nail impressions from the maker’s tiny hands.
Sometime after AD 300, Native Americans began to decorate their pottery in a distinctive way, referred to as “check‐stamping.” This decoration was made by carving a wooden paddle with a repetitive design shape such as diamonds, squares, or rectangles, and then impressing the paddle upon a still‐soft clay surface. A geometric design such as that pictured was the result.
At about this same time, dramatic changes in how Native Americans lived occurred in the Ohio Valley. For the first time, people started living in large, circular villages. In the Greenlee Tract, a large village covering almost 5‐acres of land was established along the Ohio River. At its peak in population, the village was home to nearly 200 men, women, and children. People lived in wattle‐and‐daub (wood and clay) houses that would have provided warmth and protection from the elements throughout the year. Through research conducted for DPL, archaeologists were able to document that the native village inhabitants increased the variety and quantity of plant cultivation as compared with earlier people, and that hundreds of pits had been constructed to cook food, store food, and to dispose of trash. Pottery was an important tool employed in the pits for cooking and storing the food.
Archaeologists, working for DPL at the Greenlee Tract, were rather excited to discover this rare 8,000 to 10,000 year‐old spear point. On the other hand, the discovery was a bit puzzling. Along with this spear point, archaeologists uncovered numerous items belonging to people that lived on this land 4,000 years later. So, what was this artifact doing with artifacts that were made 4,000 years apart? Was it just an accident of nature, or did Native Americans walking through this land thousands of years ago encounter this relic from the past and decided it was worth keeping?
Well, archaeologists believe the latter is the likeliest scenario. It is a mystery what the ancient inhabitants of the Greenlee Tract thought when coming across a (then), 4,000 year old projectile point. This glossy, strange point must have inspired some curiosity, and it is fascinating to note that no attempts were made to use the spear point in any functional way. The tool was not sharpened, nor was it used for hunting or cutting. Although we can only speculate the meaning these ancient people assigned to this artifact, it is clear that it held some special significance. Perhaps it was treasured as some sort of talisman or charm, meant to bring good luck to a hunt or even cure illnesses.