Tuesday, April 12, 2011

4/12/11 Report - Horse Conch & Internet Tools

Interesting Horse Conch Found on Treasure Coast.

This Horse Conch was found most likely on the Treasure Coast. The person who found it is unsure of where it was found because it has been sitting around with other shells, probably for years. Fact is, it could have been found on his own property. He doesn't remember and is simply unsure.

You might wonder what is interesting about this shell. Well, one day recently the shell was moved for some reason and it was noticed that the shell had a slot in it. You can clearly see that slot in the photo. Upon closer inspection, the slot appeared to be man-made. The shell also appeared to be an older shell, exhibiting the chalky-like surface that old shells often have.

The first reminder that I'll give here, is that you should record your finds. It can come in handy when you go back and discover something new about a find no matter what it is. Also if you have records, it helps to document your find and could help you to determine where different kinds of objects have turned up in the past. In this case, as I said, the finder didn't know that the item had any significance other than being a nice shell, and it might have been laying in his back yard for a long time, maybe even before he lived at that location. The origin is simply unknown at this point.

Secondly, I've mentioned how it can be fun to go back and review your finds from time to time. Here is something that wasn't noticed before. It doesn't matter what kind of object it is, you might notice something years later that you didn't notice at first. Maybe you've learned something that makes things more significant and noticeable.

With this shell, the discovery of the slot was only the beginning. After the shell became an object of attention and research, it was discovered that not only did it have a slot in it, but the top was also cut or knocked off. So what? Well, after blowing through the slot and then through the top of the shell, it was noticed that now the air passed easily through the shell and sometimes made a sound. A little more research on the internet showed other shells that were used as bugles. About the same amount of the top of the shell was missing on those shells.

Now it seemed like maybe this shell was actually modified to be used like a bugle. After a number of tries, the shell actually did issue a nice loud and clear blast.

After asking about the shell in a treasure forum, it was learned that the shell is a Horse Conch shell.

It is not clear if the shell was made to work like a bugle, and if it was, when it was made. The time of any workmanship remains unclear. But now that the type of shell is known, a little more research turned up the following on Wikipedia.

In classic Mayan art, the Horse Conch is shown being utilized in many ways including as paint and ink holders for elite scribes, and also as a bugle or trumpet.

In southern Florida, Native Americans, including the Calusa and Tequesta, used the horse conch to make several types of artifact. The whole shell, or more commonly only the columella, was attached to a wooden handle and used as a hammer or woodworking tool. The body whorl was used as a drinking cup. The columella was also used to make plummets or sinkers.

So now it is known that the shell is a Horse Conch, and that Horse Conchs were used as bugles, and additionally, that they were used by the Calusa and Tequesta Indians.

The evidence is building but not yet conclusive. It was also found that locals used conch shells as horns in the 19th century when they hunted possums with dogs. So even if the item was intentionally modified to be used as a horn, it might have been made either many years ago, decades ago or just a few years ago. That has not yet been determined. The horn, if that is what it is, could have also been created accidentally or naturally by the top simply being broken off.

So here we have an item that led one person to do some research. He learned a lot in the process, but there is more to learn.

This story reminds me of how the story of Ian's coaked sheve unraveled as he did his research. I covered that story in this blog in a number of posts in the past. You might enjoy looking it up by using the search box on the main page of this blog.

It should also remind you how you can notice something you didn't originally notice about an item years later and how helpful it can be if you keep good records.

Beach Seen From Google Earth.

There are so many wonderful tools on the internet these days. The above is a beach I recently visited for the first time. I looked it over before the visit.

You can use Google Earth and other programs to locate new beaches or scan beaches before a visit.

Treasure Coast Beach Forecast and Conditions.

I'm afraid to say it looks like we are already well into summer beach conditions. The wind is out of the south and the seas are calm. As you know the weather is already very warm as well.

The south winds and calm seas probably means added sand and shells to the beach front. These conditions also usually lead to dips forming immediately in front of the beach, with sand accumulating to form a bar just after that.

Those are not good conditions for finding shipwreck cobs. It probably also means that the artifacts that have been found along the beach fronts and near the shell piles will probably be decreasing. There will not be enough water force on the front beach to bring up new artifacts and not enough to erode or churn up new items.

The water will be calm enough for easy water hunting and the front beach will be in easy access but not very productive.

If this weather pattern continues, the biggest hope is for a storm that sits just off shore and sends in bigger waves from the northeast. But, as I've mentioned before, even southeast winds and local storms can cause a little erosion.

Happy hunting,