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Artifact ID workshop will be Sept. 23 at Marion library

News editor

Have you ever wondered what the story might be behind an arrowhead you picked up, or what in the world is that very old, rusted metal thingamabob you dug up in the yard?

Answers to those questions and more may be found at a Kansas Anthropological Association artifact identification workshop coming to Marion City Library on Sept. 23.

The Salina-area Mud Creek KAA chapter will have professional and experienced amateur archeologists available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the library’s Santa Fe Room to inspect individual pieces and collections of Native American and early historical items.

“This is our first year to hold it in Marion,” chapter secretary Rose Marie Wallen said. “It’s kind of an exciting show and tell event.”

Some items may be relatively straightforward to assess, while others present puzzles.

“A lot of times people have a ‘whatzit,’” Wallen said. “It’s old, it’s made of iron, and it’s part of some equipment, but they don’t know what.”

While there will be archeologists with different specializations at the Marion event, if one of them can’t figure out what an item is, they’ll take pictures, make some contacts, and get back with a person later, Wallen said.

Helpful suggestions also will be made for cataloging and collection maintenance.

“Someone may come in with something jumbled in a coffee can or glued down on a piece of plywood,” Wallen said. “We give them advice on to better care for their collection and how to document it.”

While people can learn all sorts of interesting facts about their old treasures, there’s one thing they won’t receive at the KAA event: an estimate of a piece’s value.

“We discourage buying and selling artifacts, so there will be no appraisals given,” Wallen said. “We never give you those kind of estimates because we feel it encourages people to go dig up things that should be investigated more scientifically.”

Wallen said past archeological finds of established Native American villages in the Marion area was one of the reasons the group chose this location for the event.

“We think there could be quite a few who have something,” she said. “It adds to the information we have about where villages have been.”

Rather than making formal presentations, archeologists consult with people individually as they come and go.

“We have a spread of tables with lamps and magnifiers and people willing to talk,” Wallen said. “You just come up to the table and show what you have, and they’ll start to explain. Once you’re satisfied with your information, you can go on your way.”

The event isn’t associated with the library itself, but library director Janet Marler said staff would be putting out books and resources related to artifacts for attendees to look at.

More information about the workshop is available by calling Wallen at (785) 212-0068.

Last modified Sept. 13, 2017

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