Fifth grader finds 14,000-year-old arrowhead
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. That's 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. There, they learned that it was likely a hunting tool used by early Americans thousands of years ago. Any doubts the family 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. He met with archaeologists and donated his finding, which experts say is a Clovis point. The museum has several hundred in its collection, one of which was discovered as far back as the 1870s. However, 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. It's possible that efforts to restore sand to the beaches is what aided Noah's discovery. 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. It's made of a silicate, probably jasper. The museum will conduct an 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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  • DunhamS-4
    11/07/2014 - 09:44 a.m.

    This article was about a fifth grader named Noah Cordle. He was boogie boarding one day and something cut his board. It later is revealed that this sharp object was a 14,000 year old arrowhead. Noah and his family were later brought to a museum where his finding was donated to the museum. Hurricane Sandy may be a reason this was found. The attempt to restore and to the beaches after the October 2012 Hurricane may be a factor in the arrow head reaching the surface. I think it was very cool that such a young person made such a critical archaeological discovery.

  • zackarym-Fra
    11/07/2014 - 10:06 a.m.

    it is cool that he found a 14,000 year old arrowhead. i think instead of giving it to a museum he should have sold it for a lot of money.

  • MichaelaJ-3
    11/07/2014 - 10:13 a.m.

    Noah, a fifth grader, that found an ancient arrow while on vacation to Long Beach Island new Jersey. The archeologists say that Noah should become a scientist. His favorite subject is science. This makes it easier to become a scientist or more definite, an archeologist. If I as Noah and I found an arrow head from long ago, I would be so excited I might even ask for money. Maybe not money but a lot of credit for finding it. I would ask for a scholarship to a college or university of my choice, if I stay with archeology. This young boy just changed his life and the life of everyone that lives near Long Beach Island.

  • kierstenc-Fra
    11/07/2014 - 10:47 a.m.

    I think that Noah Cordle is really lucky to have found an arrowhead that old. It would freak me out if I reached in the water and found and arrowhead. It could have cut me.

  • albertiM421
    11/07/2014 - 11:16 a.m.

    I wish I was that boy if i was I would sell that to the a science lab and be really rich and that would help out what human kind was like back then

  • albertiM421
    11/07/2014 - 11:28 a.m.

    I wish I was that boy if i was I would sell that to the a science lab and be really rich and that would help out what human kind was like back then.

  • blazek-Fra
    11/07/2014 - 11:38 a.m.

    I believe what Noah said that you have to be at the right place at the right time or you wont get lucky and hurricane sandy helped a lot!

  • kaitlin-Fra
    11/07/2014 - 11:38 a.m.

    Hurricane Sandy moved the sand and unburied the arrow head. When he was boogie boarding the sand got moved and the water made it go to the surface, where Noah found it.

  • climbersfootball
    11/07/2014 - 12:11 p.m.

    Hurricane Sandy lead to Noah's discovery by throwing the 14,000 year old arrowhead into the ocean two years ago. This helped him find it by letting the tide move it back to shore, where Noah then found it, and contacting some people and figuring out what the arrowhead was and when it was used.

  • Big_Fluffy_Giant
    11/07/2014 - 12:13 p.m.

    A year ago when I was at Cispus we went to a cave called Laser Cave and my friend Jordan found a arrow head. It was up a hill by a tree. The weird thing about this is that teachers has been bringing students to Laser Cave for years. This shows you can pretty much can find anything know matter how old it is and even a kid could find a artifact thousands of years later.

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