A 750-pound (340-kg) Mississippi alligator was killed in Eagle Lake Mississippi earlier this year. Inside it, butchers found “the shock of the year” – two ancient Native American artifacts, a 1,700-BC plummet stone, and a 6,000-BC atlatl dart point.
According to a report in Clarion Ledger the “13 ft five-inch long [4.1-meter-long] alligator was killed in Eagle Lake in September by hunter John Hamilton. On his Facebook page after he killed the reptile Hamilton said the creature was “the hunt of a lifetime.”
Now, Mississippi archaeologists are in total agreement with Hamilton after butchers recovered the ancient Native American atlatl dart point and the mysterious plummet stone in the Mississippi alligator’s stomach.
The enormous head of the 750-pound (340-kg) Mississippi alligator, which was 13.4 feet (4.1 meters) long. And inside its stomach butchers found two amazingly ancient Native American artifacts. ( Red Antler Processing )
The Mississippi Alligator’s Two Native American Artifacts
When folks in the states of Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas are sixteen years of age or older they can obtain Alligator Possession Permits . After Hamilton, a licensed hunter, killed the Mississippi alligator this year he recalled earlier reports about dog-tags being found in old alligator’s stomachs that were killed in South Carolina. And he was hoping that something interesting might be hidden within the monster he himself slayed.
When the staff at Red Antler Processing, which harvested the animal, slid a knife across the creature’s belly, the stomach was found to contain two Native American artifacts .
James Starnes is the director of surface geology and surface mapping at the Department of Environmental Quality and he was the first to examine photos of the artifacts. Starnes identified “a plummet” that dated back to 1,700 BC and an atlatl dart point (spear tip) that was crafted around 6000 BC, according to the Clarion Ledger report.
The two artifacts found in the Mississippi alligator’s stomach: the 6,000-BC atlatl dart point (top), and the black plummet stone from 1,700 BC (bottom). (Shane Smith / Clarion Ledger )
The Dart or Spear Point Was Fired From A Weapon Launcher
MS History Now explains that there are over “19,000 known prehistoric archaeological sites” in the state of Mississippi dating back to the prehistoric period, which began some 12,000 years ago. So, it is anyone’s guess as to where the alligator picked up the ancient Native American artifacts.
The atlatl dart point discovered in the alligator’s stomach dates back to 6,000 BC, which was in the Early Archaic period (8,000-5,000 BC).
Starnes said that although the dart point artifact resembles an arrowhead, it ’s actually the tip of a much bigger “early weapon.”
Starnes says many people jump to conclusions and assume all shaped points from the ancient world are “arrowheads,” but if this was the case they would all be “little bitty points.” The Mississippi alligator dart point could only have been bound to a heavy hunting spear . The shaped piece was the tip of a spear-throwing lever known as an “atlatl.” This ancient tool uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in spear-throwing by using a “bearing surface.” This enables the hunter, warrior, or sportsman to create extra energy in the launching of spears.
Photographs and radiographs of atlatl dart foreshafts and points. ( Research Gate )
The Stone Plummet Artifact Is Less Clearly Understood
Regarding the second ancient artifact recovered from the alligator’s stomach, Starnes described it as a “plummet used by fisherman about 1700 BC.” Starnes said it is currently unknown what the purpose of the object was, however, the two holes could have served as excellent bone-hook sharpeners.
When bone fishhooks were exposed to water for long period they gradually lost their tips. A quick rub around the insides of the plummet stone holes could have produced a sharper tip. But as Starnes reminds us, while it is known plummets had significance, “we have no idea. We can only guess.”
The two Native American artifacts found in the recent Mississippi alligator’s stomach are certainly the oldest ever discovered, but many modern things have been found in these reptiles. Back in April of this year, WISTV reported on a South Carolina butcher who, while processing a 12-foot (3.7-meter) long, 445-pound (202-kg) land alligator, discovered “five dog tags, a bullet jacket, a spark plug, turtle shells, and several bobcat claws.”
To understand this accumulation of objects, we must take a quick look at the biology of the crocodilian stomach. Two stomach chambers, one powerful and muscular and the other holding digestive acids, have evolved for digesting prey , including bones, shells, cartilage, feathers and horns.
Back in April a Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks employee told The Clarion Ledger that “hard objects help alligators digest foods.” Rocks that have spent time in digestive tracts of animals are called “ gastroliths,” (stomach stones). Therefore, arguably, the 8,000 and 3,700-year-old stone artifacts are in this case not so much “microlithic” as they are “gastrolithic” hunting tools from the ancient world .
Top image: It was inside of this giant Mississippi alligator, which was 13.4 feet (4.1 meters) long and weighed 750 pounds (340 kg), that the two ancient artifacts were found. Source: Red Antler Processing