10,000-Year-Old Seaside Heights Artifact Is More Than It Seems

An artifact found in Seaside Heights recently highlighted New Jersey’s appeal for would-be prehistoric treasure hunters. The object gives some account for what life was like in the Garden State thousands of years ago, but don’t be fooled by its appearance, it’s not an arrowhead.

According to ABC News, Audrey Stanick, 58, was walking down the beach with her sister at Seaside Heights looking for sea glass on October 6, shortly after a storm. She ended up with a dulled point, roughly 10,000 to 11,000 years old.

“I noticed it because it was very dark and shiny, and my sister from Florida who likes to collect sharks’ teeth taught me to always look out for dark and shiny things at the beach. Then, I remembered a boy made a similar discovery last year, so I got in contact with the museum.”

The New Jersey State Museum studied the artifact, calling it a rare find that would likely expand their knowledge of prehistoric peoples.

Seaside Heights artifact
Seaside Heights artifact

USA Today reports that it was actually the third time an artifact has been discovered on a New Jersey beach since last summer.

Noah Cordle, 10 years old at the time of his discovery, found a similar object at Beach Haven. After he donated his projectile point to the Smithsonian Institute, the Asbury Park Press wrote the boy’s story, which led to a frenzy of young paleontologists scouring New Jersey beaches, like Seaside Heights.

Seaside Heights after Hurricane Sandy (Phone Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

It wasn’t long before Victoria Doroshenko, then 11, found another point in Long Branch.

Victoria’s father told the Press at the time, “Everyone was talking about that story.”

“And then my daughter came up to me and said, ‘Hey, Dad, is this an arrowhead?'”

Technically, it wasn’t.

Neither is Audrey Stanick’s artifact.

Paleontologists and aarchaeologists simply refer to these kinds of objects as “projectile points” because bow and arrow technology still wasn’t available to the natives of New Jersey 12,000 years ago.

The projectile point also likely originated from people living in what is now the Atlantic Ocean.

Dr. Gregory Lattanzi, assistant curator at the New Jersey State Museum, explained that the Seaside Heights object is “significant because we now have another piece of evidence from prehistoric habitation sites from land previously exposed but now covered in water.”

“[The] finding will help us get a better idea of just how far these sites may be located out in the ocean.”

Lattanzi also said the artifact was “pretty incredible” since professional excavations usually try to find projectile points like Stanick’s, but sometimes come up short. The museum determined that the point was made out of flint and took measurements of it. The object’s edges were rounded from being tumbled around the ocean for so long, similar to sea glass.

Semi-nomadic tribes used these points to hunt deer and caribou, and their tools had to be routinely sharpened.

Despite the recent popularity of hunting for ancient artifacts, the beaches appear to still have some more discoveries waiting under the sand.

According to Dr. Lattanzi, the reason could be that the storms are uncovering new items, or the beach replenishment could be a factor.

Whatever the case, Ms. Stanick has decided that the museum will have more than enough projectile points to study, and she plans to keep hers for the time being.

“I read that a boy who found a similar spearhead last year in New Jersey donated it to the Smithsonian. If I do ever end up donating it, I want to donate it to a New Jersey museum because I found it here and it belongs here. But for now, I’m going to keep it. Trust me, these places have a lot of artifacts, and I don’t think they’re going to miss mine.”

Until another amateur paleontologist happens upon another artifact on Seaside Heights, the museum will have to make due with what it already has.

[Image Credit: New Jersey State Museum/Facebook]