In our travels around this country (and Canada), we have found numerous objects which could be classified as artifacts. Many of these items, but not all, were found with a metal detector. According to Webster, an artifact is “a usually simple object (such as a tool or ornament) showing human workmanship or modification as distinguished from a natural object…” This definition covers a wide variety of objects.
When the word “relic” is thrown into the conversation, it is often considered another word for artifact. Technically, relic is that which remains; that which is left after loss or decay. Using this definition, an arrowhead would be considered an artifact, while a broken piece of arrowhead would be a relic. For most of us in the hobby, the two words could probably be used interchangeably without causing much of a problem.
Having said all of that, Susie and I have found some neat “stuff”. Starting up north, we have detected numerous remote hunting and fishing camps in Canada. Most of these are old and have never seen a detector. Most were old logging camps many decades ago. One of my neatest finds was a two bladed axe head. We have also found short lengths of heavy logging chain used (I assume) to pull logs from the woods to their destination.
I have found probably a hundred or more rifle shell casings (and some unfired cartridges) in the hunting camps. Probably from practice rounds being fired. Susie has found two large round, metal circles with handles. These were lids from the top of old wood burning stoves. She also has found several huge horseshoes, or actually, from the size, they would have to be mule shoes in these camps. We are scheduled to hunt two more of these old resorts this summer.
Moving west, I was hunting pronghorn in Montana. In the afternoon, we grabbed our detectors and began searching around a fallen down schoolhouse. I searched with one earphone on and one-off. I wanted to be able to hear the distinctive rattle of a nearby snake if I approached one. I found an old shell casing. The ranch owner said it was from a large caliber buffalo gun. I asked did it belong to an Indian or a soldier. He said it belonged to whoever was winning the fight at that time. Susie found several old coins in the ruins. And according to the definition, a coin is an artifact.
While in this area, our guide showed us numerous arrowheads, choppers, scrapers, teepee rings, and pot rocks. There were also several old car ruins in the fields. While they were stripped basically to the metal frame, I did find an old license plate with my detector. It was long and narrow, with a year 28 on it and Minn. Before cleaning the dirt off, I saw the “M” and thought it was from Montana. But, it turned out to be Minnesota. An old car, a long way from home.
Returning to the east, we were walking along a Lake Erie shoreline. Not a nice sandy beach good for crowds, we nevertheless found some artifacts. This was in the form of beach glass. Shards of colorful, broken pieces of bottles that had been tumbled by the waves in the rocks along the shore. The edges of the glass become smooth from being churned in the rock and sand, similar to a rock tumbler in my garage. I guess since this was broken glass, it must be considered a relic.
On our visits south, we have been invited to detect several old Civil War sites. Bullets, buttons, buckles, and more have been added to our collection on these trips. We have been invited to both Mississippi and Alabama this summer to search more sites. Our friends already have permission for us to hunt private areas around their property. Of course, many of our friends here in Indiana find Civil War buttons in the farm fields of the Hoosier state.
Further south, the beaches of Florida yield many finds to our detectors. While I have yet to find any Spanish coins washed up on the beach from sunken ships, we do find a lot of coins and a nice amount of jewelry. It amazes me to see all the folks on the beach with detectors, yet we still find stuff. Either the other people don’t turn their detectors on, or perhaps don’t use them properly, or maybe there is just that much treasure lost every day on the beach.
Of course, these are just a few of the spots to find artifacts. Every state and province has great sites. I just get permission to hunt, and go for it.