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Fort Defiance Civil War Park and Interpretive Center holds Indian Artifact Show


Clarksville Parks and Recreation DepartmentClarksville, TN – Fort Defiance Civil War Park and Interpretive Center hosted an event this weekend that focused on Native American artifacts, bringing in experts on the subject, and inviting locals to come in with their own items, and questions on the subject.

William Parker is the Historical Interpreter at Fort Defiance. “We are known as a Civil War site, but we tend to forget the war only lasted four years,” Parker said. “So we’re tapping into the history of this site way before the war, when this hill was inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years.

Fort Defiance hosted a Native American artifact event this weekend, with experts on hand to answer questions on the subject.

Fort Defiance hosted a Native American artifact event this weekend, with experts on hand to answer questions on the subject.

“We are encouraging people to bring in their artifacts, and have them identified by our experts, Mark Clark, Bob Parker, and Don Hanscon.”

Mark Clark was born and raised in Clarksville, his expertise is world renowned. “I’ve been involved in this all my life, since I was a child,” Clark said. “My father and older brothers collected. They took me out when I was a kid, and I’ve been collecting ever since.”

Clark says, about 20 – 30 years ago, his hobby became more of an investment, a long-term collecting, and buying and selling of artifacts.

“People have always collected these items,” Clark said. “Even Native Americans collected previous peoples’ Points. In stone box graves that are 1,000 years old, they have found archaic Points that were 8,000 years old. So, the Indians themselves curated Points from previous cultures.”

Clark had a display that included many Dover flint ceremonial items, blades daggers, nipple-pointed blades. He also had arrowheads, knives, and the different tools that people needed to make, to survive.

William Parker, Historical Interpreter at Fort Defiance.

William Parker, Historical Interpreter at Fort Defiance.

“They didn’t have metal,” Clark said. “So, chippable stone was the only thing they had to work with. A lot of these pieces were made with Dover Chert, a combination of clay and dirt.

“It’s not necessarily easy to work with, but it has a crystalline structure that allows a conchoidal fracture, like when a BB hits a window, and the fracture is circular. Being able to control that circular pattern is what made this material so popular to work with.”

In a matter of moments Clark was able to broach several interesting subjects. For instance, he brokered an arrowhead to a company a few years back for $276,000, a world record.

“It was a Clovis Point,” Clark said. “Those are some of the earliest known Points. It was about 7 inches long, and estimated to be about 12,000 years old.

“The unique thing we have here in the Southeast, are arrowheads called Cumberland Points. They have been determined to be the oldest Points in North America, even older than the Clovis Points, and they are only found East of the Mississippi River.”

Clark explained, for some time it was accepted that the Clovis culture migrated from the area now known as Alaska. That theory is no longer accepted.

“Clovis culture got around,” Clark said. “Its artifacts can be found in many places, but Cumberland artifacts are only found here. The reason for that is that the Mississippi River at the time, say 15,000 – 20,000 years ago was an ice flow. It couldn’t be crossed. It was a torrent of death.”

Clark also mentioned a theory that is growing in popularity, that the first inhabitants of this continent were Solutrean, from the area that is now known as France and Spain. He said, this is ruffling a lot of feathers in the Native American communities.

“My friend, Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution has put forth the Solutrean Hypothesis,” Clark said. “It’s all about the Cumberland culture being first, as evidenced by the age of the Cumberland Points.

“This hobby has given me a great foundation, one that has led me to world travel and archaeology. I spend a lot of time in Southeast Asia. I’m in the antiquity business, as were my parents. I do a few other things in the real world, but I try not to let reality capture me for too long.”

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