A Hiking Discovery

It’s been almost two years since I’ve been on an archaeological dig. Ever since COVID hit, Israel hasn’t let me or my team into the country. I really miss digging, and maybe that’s why I got so excited last weekend when I made a discovery on a recent hike.

There’s a canyon near where I live, and the city recently put in some mountain bike trails. I enjoy hiking out there, and I usually go once or twice a week. Last weekend, I was out hiking the canyon, and I suddenly noticed a scattering of stuff in the trail. There was broken glass, bones, and pieces of rusty metal.

I started finding bits of broken glass, bones, and metal along the trail.

Being an archaeologist, I immediately recognized these as archaeological materials. I started poking around beside the trail and discovered a cute little perfume bottle. I was so excited. I abandoned the hiking trail and traced the scattering of material remains up the side of the canyon. It petered out at the rim.

A perfume bottle from the 1930s

I went back the next day with a trowel and a pail. I systematically walked back and forth across the area, stopping to pick up whatever man-made items I saw. I easily filled my pail in a few hours. My finds included about a dozen complete glass bottles, several ceramic dishes including a mug and multiple child’s play dishes. I also found square-headed nails and an assortment of silverware pieces. There was a remarkable quantity of bones, and most of them were cut flat on one or both ends. A couple of marbles and a toy car wheel rounded out the collection.

I took my finds home and started researching what I had found. Most of the glass jars were easy to date. The majority of them were from the 1940s including two 7up bottles from the Lewiston, Idaho bottling plant. My first find, the perfume bottle, dated to 1937 and was the earliest datable find. The latest find was a whiskey bottle dating to 1950. One of the bottles, a small medicine bottle, had obviously partially melted. I also found other pieces of glass slag, indicating that the area burned at some point.

I’m assuming that what I found was someone’s trash dump. They probably just threw their trash over the side of the canyon. The question is, was it a communal trash dump, or someone’s personal dump?

I checked Google Earth hoping to find the footprint of a farmstead or a structure of some kind at the rim of the canyon, but that area is not a farmer’s field, and I couldn’t spot anything that looked like an old structure. I’m checking with the historical society to find out if they know anything. I’ll update this post if I learn anything new.

3 responses to “A Hiking Discovery”

  1. Hi Abigail!
    This is an exciting story and adventure you have had. I hope you can find out more. Earlier this year I was walking on the beach and found a couple of pieces of pottery. One looked really old and charred and I thought it had a smooth edge looking like a diagnostic. When I got home and washed it and examined it after it dried it was a piece of bone. I need to call an archaeology department and report this, just been busy. Florida had many Indian tribes and many friends have collections of pottery they have picked up along the shores of our fresh water but this little piece of a larger bone was so exciting and making me long for the dig back at Shiloh. I felt blessed from above with this find. So happy you experienced that excitement of discovery and examination and study. I look forward to your future writings!
    Love you sweet friend!


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