Fifth grader finds 14,000-year-old arrowhead Smithsonian experts say the point is likely 13,500 to 14,000 years old (Donald E. Hurlbert / Smithsonian Institution)
Fifth grader finds 14,000-year-old arrowhead
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Noah Cordle and his family were vacationing on Long Beach Island in New Jersey last summer when a discovery cut his boogie boarding session short.

Something pointy brushed against his leg. "It didn't feel like any of the other shells," he says.

He reached into the water and pulled out an object. Without his glasses on, he thought it looked like an arrowhead or a giant shark tooth. It was about the length of his palm and the color of charcoal.

His family contacted the New Jersey State Museum and learned that it was likely a hunting tool used by early Americans thousands of years ago. Any doubts they had turned to excitement.

"I thought it was a waste of time," Brian Cordle, Noah's father, says of his initial reaction. "I was a nonbeliever, but they converted me."

This week, Noah, who is 10 and lives in Fairfax, Virginia, visited the National Museum of Natural History to meet with archaeologists and donate his finding, which experts say it is a Clovis point. The museum has several hundred in its collection, one of which was discovered as far back as the 1870s, but Noah's is the first one to join the collection from New Jersey.

"You can lay out Clovis points from one end of the USA to the other, from California and now New Jersey, and look at them and study them side by side," says Pegi Jodry, a curator in the museum's archaeology department. She says the museum will make a cast of Noah's point for him.

Hurricane Sandy devastated Long Beach Island in October 2012, and potentially efforts to restore sand to the beaches is what made Noah's discovery possible. The point may have been buried for thousands of years until those replenishment efforts moved sand around, a New Jersey archaeology expert told Asbury Park Press.

At the Natural History Museum, Dennis Stanford, the Smithsonian's expert in Paleoindian archaeology and stone tool technology, showed Noah how ancient hunters would have attached the point to a spear and thrown it at creatures like mastodon. "It's been used and re-sharpened several times," Stanford told Noah about his artifact.

Noah's response: "Whoa."

Experts consider the Clovis to be among the first Americans. Stanford says the artifact is "a classic Clovis point," dating from 13,500 to 14,000 years ago and made of a silicate, probably jasper. The museum will conduct a morphometric analysis to study its shape and how it was made. Stanford says it's black because it had been in salt water for so long, left behind when sea levels rose after the Ice Age.

Noah is in the fifth grade and says his favorite school subject is science. He's a fan of ancient artifacts. Before his grandfather passed away earlier this year, the two of them would walk around in search of arrowheads, which are typically around 5,000 years old.

Noah says he's unsure what he wants to be when he grows up, but Stanford hints that he should consider a career in archaeology. After all, Stanford discovered his first arrowhead when he was nine years old, he says, "and look what happened to me."

Stanford says that Clovis points are rare, but it's not uncommon to find them on beaches. However, usually someone goes looking for them, not the other way around.

"That's never happened to anybody that I know of," he says about the point washing up to Noah. "You gotta be in the right place at the right time or it will disappear just like that. He was really lucky."

Critical thinking challenge: How did Hurricane Sandy lead to Noahs discovery?

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COMMENTS (13)
  • MikaylaStazewski-Ste
    11/10/2014 - 12:14 p.m.

    It would be awesome to find such a thing. Anything historic, vintage, or worthwhile would be a great finding to me. The boy should be proud.

  • elliotja-Fre
    11/11/2014 - 12:53 p.m.

    Arrowheads are hard to find especially this 14,000 one. I feel lucky for Noah and I wish i could find something that old. An arrowhead in the ocean that is even rarer than one on land. I wonder what the Americans did in the ocean so he could find it. Good job Noah.

  • DD2000BASEBALL
    11/12/2014 - 01:02 p.m.

    Since Hurricane Sandy hit, the sand was messed up and thrown around everywhere. Since it was thrown around everywhere, the fossil was peeking through the sand and Noah was lucky to find it.

  • naidag
    11/13/2014 - 08:04 p.m.

    I find that really cool . I mean I would want to find something cool like in my life . Its very ware people finding interesting things like that .

  • DawsonW-Ver
    11/14/2014 - 09:15 a.m.

    Hurricane Sandy unearthed the ancient arrowhead and scattered all of the sand around the sea, he was just in the right place at the right time, he's very lucky and should be proud.

  • KMartin-Sti
    11/17/2014 - 09:48 a.m.

    That is so cool that he found a arrow head from a long time ago. I would have been so exited to find one. I have 2 arrow heads right now but there not from back then i would love to find a old one like this.

  • atayal-Orv
    11/17/2014 - 04:40 p.m.

    that really cool. what if he found something that was worth allot. he can get millions. i think if i was in that predicament i will keep it make it into a necklace. and it will be my lucky charm.

  • Michaegs
    11/17/2014 - 06:10 p.m.

    That is a very good point, but depending on where the kid lived it could change how it got there. It also depends where he found it and many other factors.

  • 9RyanS
    11/18/2014 - 06:30 p.m.

    Response 2
    Date: November 7th, 2014
    Date accessed: November 17th, 2014
    Response type: 5Ws
    Article title: Fifth Grader finds 14,000 year old arrowhead

    This article is about a 5th grader named Noah Cordle who finds a 13,500-14,000 year old arrowhead. Him and his family were on vacation at the long beach island New Jersey. Him and his family were boogie boarding when Noahs foot touched something odd and unusual. He reached down and pulled out an arrowhead as he had thought. His family contacted the New Jersey State Museum and went and donated the arrowhead. The reason they think this arrowhead was uncovered was by a hurricane in 2012 that may have moved and shifted the ground and sand pushing the arrowhead up above ground in the ocean.

  • 3ShaoY
    11/19/2014 - 12:58 p.m.

    Hurricane Sandy shifted the sand while it was in the water which could have moved the sand that buried the arrowhead which led to Noah finding the arrowhead.

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