BOTKINS – A childhood dream of finding an arrowhead resulted in the discovery of a site over 13,000 years old near Botkins.
Dave Mielke, a retired teacher from the local Botkins School District, found his first arrowhead when he was five years old. While teaching, he discovered a Clovis point on a farm owned by Mark and Paul Buehler. And his findings at the site will be the topic of conversation on Friday, April 29 at the local school in Botkins when Kent State associate professor Metin Eren is the guest speaker. The program starts at 8 p.m.
Eren, who is an archaeologist, grew up in Ohio and has excavated all over the world. He stayed eight years in England. When a position at Kent State opened up, he decided to return to his home state to focus on Ohio archeology. He has published over 150 articles on archaeology.
“I started working with local collectors,” Eren said. “They can come up with amazing things.”
When publishing his articles, Eren would include local collectors as co-authors of the work.
“Then one day I got an email from Dave Mielke,” Eren said. “He said he had things I might be interested in.
“I was amazed. He had nice Clovis points,” he said.
The Clovis people were the first to settle in North America 13,000 years ago. They came to North America from Asia through the Bering Strait. They were a prehistoric Paleo-American culture.
Eren said if a collector is willing to donate their collection to Kent State, testing can be done to determine its age and history.
“If the collector is willing to donate their collection to a public institution, we’ll give them the five-star treatment,” Eren said.
And that’s what Mielke did and that’s why so much is now known on the Mielke Clovis site.
Eren will discuss the site during the program on April 29. He encourages other collectors to bring their finds to the program so he can look at them.
“It’s fun to see what people have found,” Eren said. “So some of them will want to get published themselves.”
Eren said he gives a dozen speeches a year in Ohio.
“I love meeting new people. I’m really looking forward to it (Friday’s program),” he said.
Eren’s paper, “The Mielke Clovis Site (33SH26), Western Ohio, USA Geochemicals, Technological Descriptions, Artifact Morphometry, and Microwear,” will be published in the Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology.
Eren said the Clovis people were the first to colonize North America. As they adapted to living conditions throughout North America, they also evolved into different cultures.
“Their behaviors have changed,” Eren said. “They weren’t wiped out. We can look at Native American DNA and link it to the Clovis people. There is a 13,000 year unbroken connection there. There is also a correspondence between Clovis DNA and Northeast Asia. The field of ancient DNA has exploded in the last 10 to 15 years.
It was in May 1971 when Mielke discovered his first Clovis point at what is now the Mielke Clovis site.
“We were sitting at home and my wife was working on exams for me,” Mielke said. “There was a terrible thunderstorm and the rain was so heavy. She knew exactly what I was thinking.
“So I told her I was going to school to get more sheets, same for her. The first words that came out of his mouth were “you will not go hunting for arrowheads”. If you do, I’m done (working on tests). ‘”
So while he assured her that he was going to school, Mielke actually went to get some arrowheads.
“I knew I was going to my favorite site,” Mielke said. When he arrived at the site, he discovered that it was full of storm water and very muddy.
“I took three steps and saw a shard of flint under the water and the mud,” he recalls. “I felt the flutes between my fingers and ran to the car. I went to the boys bathroom at school and washed him. It was the best I have ever found.
After cleaning his shoes and doing the dishes, Mielke collected the ditto paper and went home. He never told his wife about his adventure that day…until now.
When his children – Nikki, Lesli and Ryon – grew up, they accompanied him in search of arrowheads.
Mielke shared her love of artifacts with her Ohio history students at Botkins. In 1982, he stopped hunting arrowheads after his school collection was thrown away.
“By then I was done with collecting artifacts,” he said. “Now, 40 years later, the site material has been published.”
Other Clovis sites in Ohio are Wauseon Preform, Maumee River Valley Finds, Sheridan Cave, Paleo Crossing, Jackson Farm, Black Diamond, Nelson Cache, Welling, Nobles Pond, Salt Fork, Sandy Springs, and 33M5391.
He was walking through a cornfield on a farm in Lindsey, Ohio when he discovered his first arrowhead.
“I remember picking it up and the first thing I wondered was who the Indians were that made it,” he said. “I saw ‘Rin Tin Tin’ growing up so I thought it was made by the Apaches. My mom took me to the Hayes Memorial Museum which had a collection of arrowheads and a booklet.
Thanks to the booklet, he discovered that the arrowhead was prehistoric.
When he was seven or eight, a friend, Elmer Hess, who was over 80, showed Mielke a National Geographic magazine. It contained a story about the Clovis people of New Mexico. At that time, he knew he wanted to find a site like the one in New Mexico. And that’s what he did in 1971.
This is a photograph of the first Clovis point that Dave Mielke found near Botkins.
Here are some of the Clovis points that were found at the Mielke Clovis site near Botkins.
Dave Mielke shows some of the photos of artifacts found at the Mielke Clovis site near Botkins. A presentation on Clovis points by Kent State associate professor Metin Eren is scheduled for Friday, April 29 at 8 p.m. at Botkins Local School.
Contact the writer at 937-538-4822.