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Ancient 'Trash' Is Arrowhead Hunter's Treasure — Winter 2009 | Out Here Magazine

By Amber Stephens

When Gary Blessing walks the fallow fields of winter, he's not just stretching his legs - he's looking for pieces of history. For hours, Blessing walks in solitude, head down, litter stick in hand, searching for pieces of flint, coins, and even stone tools, some more than 3,000 years old.

His weekend quests for Native American artifacts have yielded some 1,000 arrowheads or spear points and more than 10,000 broken pieces of historic refuse. For Blessing and other artifact hunters, it is a hobby that requires little more than patience, good walking shoes, and a keen set of eyes.

"I started doing it about 11 years ago, but I never knew how to approach it, how to go about it," he says.

A friend showed Blessing the tricks to finding field flint and other historic treasures. Soon the sales account representative was scouring thousands of acres in central Ohio, returning most days with a pocketful of history.

Blessing prefers to search freshly turned fields after a rainfall, but only after knocking on doors and asking permission. "I've met so many nice people, just by doing that," he says.

Blessing's best discovery, a panel bannerstone, which is a ceremonial piece about 8,000 years old, was awarded the "Best Find of the Year" in the Ohio Archaeology Society's 2006 bannerstone category. It was one of only three such stones found that year.

Blessing suggests searching high knolls, particularly those near creeks and streams where former inhabitants may have hunted game. "Keep your eyes open for anything and everything."

After a decade, Blessing's hobby has yielded more than a dozen glass cases full of arrowheads, spear points, and other pieces that survived centuries intact, right below the soil's surface.

"There's a lot of arrowheads out there," he says, "when you've got 14,500 years of Americans throwing their litter on the ground."