Happenstance and curiosity led 29-year-old Evan Honeyman to the surprise discovery of an object believed to be more than 1,000 years old: a chiseled stone that offers a window to a time when humans honed their wits to hunt for food.
On Memorial Day, the Farmington man was visiting his parents’ beach house in Westbrook and ventured out for some exercise, breathing in the fresh air as he made his way along the beach.
Honeyman, a director of business development at a consulting firm, often uses the opportunity to clear his mind, something he likes to do as often as he can.
When he visits, Honeyman makes it a point to walk the shoreline a couple times a day, picking up discarded items, such as deflated balloons, water bottles and old fishing line: “trying to get it off the beach and out of the ocean.”
He was on his way back to his parent’s home when something caught his eye. Washed up on Quotonset Beach on Long Island Sound was an artifact experts date between 1,000 and 6,000 years old.
“A big wave had pushed something right in front of my feet,” said Honeyman, who quickly picked it up.
Something in his gut told him the chiseled stone was a notable find.
“Let me get it confirmed first before I get too excited,” he told himself.
Honeyman’s first thought was he had discovered an arrowhead, so he turned to an archaeologist in town, Gary Nolf. “He’s been called the modern day Indiana Jones. He has a huge collection of artifacts dating back 10,000 years.”
He sent pictures of the 1½-inch piece to Nolf, who confirmed it was authentic.
Next, Honeyman reached out to the State Archeologist Sarah Sportman for a second opinion. She agreed with Nolf, and provided some historical context to his discovery.
He contacted his alma mater, and consulted Bentley University Dean of Arts & Sciences Rich Oches, who arrived at the same conclusion.
The experts placed the artifact at between 2,000 and 3,000 years old, and possibly composed of basalt, rhyolite or mudstone.
As he spoke to each one, his excitement grew, Honeyman said.
“People often find things that wash up on the beach for various reasons,” Sportman said, “one of the reasons being that our shorelines are more inundated by water than they were at different times in the past, so a lot of archaeological spots are actually underwater. Those areas that would have been land are now underwater.”
The object could have been used as a spear or an arrow or anything that required a sharp point, she said. “They were kind of like a multi-tool because it was a sharp end so you could cut things with them or scrape things with them. People used them for a lot of different things.”
Honeyman, who studied New England Native American culture for many years, acknowledged a lot of people wouldn’t be as interested as he is about the stone, “but, for me, I’ve always wanted to discover an arrowhead or spearhead or something of that nature.
“I’ve never been lucky enough,” he said. “It only fuels my curiosity even more.”
Honeyman was told it was likely the tip of a spear, although of the features have been eroded. “It could have been in the ocean for a couple hundred years, if not a couple thousand. It’s possible it was buried on land before all those houses went up. It could have been taken into the ocean.”
“The bow and arrow didn’t come into this area until 1,500 years ago, so that’s relatively new,” Nolf said. “So not everything you find are arrowheads, more so what you find are spear points used with what we call an ‘atlatl.’ ”
An atlatl is a weapon designed to hurl a 5- to 8-foot spear that dates back to sometime about 15,000 years ago.
When Honeyman first picked it up, he experienced a surreal feeling, he said.
“I may have been the first person to hold it in maybe 2,000 years. It’s possible no other human touched it besides the person who actually carved it,” he said.
“In my gut, I knew this was something different from anything else I’d seen before,” he added. “Had I been five minutes earlier — five minutes later — the ocean could have easily pulled it back out or pushed it back in.”
Honeyman plans to reach out to the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven for further guidance. He would like to keep it in the family, and place it in a shadow box frame for display. “It’s such a reminder of our beginnings.”
His find isn’t necessarily a unique one, but Honeyman now feels an extra special connection to nature, something he found in a tiny relic of Connecticut history.
“Because it’s so exciting for me, I hope it helps other people,” Honeyman said. “If it encourages just a few people to go for a walk in the woods or on a trail around the beach, help clear their minds.
“Maybe they’ll find something,” he added. “Who knows?”