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Find of a lifetime

Toronto man discovers rare Adena Indian ceremonial pipe while digging

May 19, 2013
Weirton Daily Times

TORONTO - City resident Ed Porter didn't have any idea his life would change Feb. 28, 2012, when something he found while digging for antique bottles in the city.

It was the find of a lifetime, according to Porter, and he's got the documentation to back it up.

Porter's find was a rare, tubular, Adena Indian ceremonial pipe. The pipe, hand-carved out of petrified wood, includes a center whole, is translucent and has a vein of what appears to be oxidation running down one side. The pipe could be as old as 2,500 to 3,000 years old, as that's the time the Adena Indian tribe lived in the area. Porter said he was simply looking for antique bottles that winter day when something in the ground caught his eye. "We were actually looking for bottles in Toronto," said Porter, adding he saw something in the mud. "I pulled it out of the ground, and it was all muddy. I almost threw it away. I didn't even know what it was."

Article Photos

UNUSUAL FIND — Toronto resident Ed Porter shows the perfectly round hole in the Adena Indian ceremonial pipe made of petrified wood he found in 2012.
-- Mark J. Miller

Once he got the artifact home and cleaned up, Porter thought it looked like some kind of pipe. He took the artifact to his friend and Toronto resident Patrick Mossor, who was an avid collector of Indian artifacts in the area.

"(Mossor) said he'd never seen anything like it before," said Porter. "His eyes bugged out when I showed him."

Porter said he then called Phil Fitzgibbons, an archeology professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

"He really wanted to see it," said Porter, adding "he wanted me to bring it up to him between classes."

Fitzgibbons told Porter he had found something quite unique for the area.

"The only other (Adena pipe) he knew of was in a museum in Columbus," said Porter. "He said that was an (American Indian's) shaman's effigy."

Fitzgibbons said the Adena Tribe were composed of the ancestral palio-Indians who crossed the land bridge across the Bering Straight about 13,000 years ago and presumably went south and east, crossing the Mississippi River about 11,000 years ago. The Adena tribe settled in the Ohio Valley region. The pipe was likely made with a bow drill, but it was impossible to date how old it could be, although the wood, being petrified, could have been created millions of years ago.

"It's a diagnostic Adena Indian artifact," said Fitzgibbons, adding finding such an artifact would be very rare.

"It's an item I've never found," said the professor, adding most artifacts found in the area are stone tools used for hunting and survival. "It is the find of a lifetime."

"(The Indians) didn't smoke out of this - they blew smoke through it during ceremonies," said Porter. "They had no metal tools to make this out of whatsoever."

Porter said his main goal was to find out more about the pipe, and he recently sent photos of the item to the History Cable channel.

(Miller can be contacted at mmiller@heraldstaronline.com.com.)

 
 

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