Oregon landowner uncovers Native American obsidian tools on prop - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon landowner uncovers Native American obsidian tools on property

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Scientists unearted 15 obsidian tools known as bifaces in the Willamette Valley. (Source: Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.) Scientists unearted 15 obsidian tools known as bifaces in the Willamette Valley. (Source: Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.)
Megan Wonderly, a volunteer archaeologist at the excavation, records the vertical and horizontal position of the biface. (Source: Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.) Megan Wonderly, a volunteer archaeologist at the excavation, records the vertical and horizontal position of the biface. (Source: Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.)
Megan Wonderly, a volunteer archaeologist at the excavation, records the vertical and horizontal position of the biface. (Source: Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.) Megan Wonderly, a volunteer archaeologist at the excavation, records the vertical and horizontal position of the biface. (Source: Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.)
(KPTV) -

State archaeologists are excited about the discovery of 15 Native American artifacts in the Willamette Valley.

Scientists believe the obsidian tools, known as bifaces, are somewhere between 1,000 and 4,000 years old.

According to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, a landowner uncovered the artifacts and then reported the find to the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, which led an archaeological dig at the site in June.

With help from other archaeologists, the Confederate Tribes of the Grand Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, scientists were able to determine the obsidian used to make the tools came from the Obsidian Cliffs in the Central Oregon Cascades.

Once the tools were roughly shaped at the Obsidian Cliffs, they would have been traded before being carved into finished tools.

Archaeologists say the discovery is exciting because not only are the tools in good shape, but finding these types of artifacts in the area is rare.

"Of approximately 35,000 recorded archaeological sites in Oregon, few, likely less than 25, consist of biface caches," said Assistant State Archaeologist John Pouley. "Of the known biface cache sites, it is believed to be the first recorded in the Willamette Valley." 

Archaeologists said the discovery will help them better understand prehistoric trade networks in the area. The artifact site falls into the traditional territory of the Santiam Band of the Kalapuya people.

Archaeologists said they never would have known about the discovery if the landowner hadn't contacted the state.

"This site makes you wonder how many archaeological sites with the potential to shed light on the history of human occupation within Oregon have been found before, and never reported," Pouley said. 

Landowners retain ownership of any archaeological sites on private property and any artifacts found there, unless they consist of Native American remains, funeral or burial objects, or other objects of cultural significance.

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