The fragment of pottery was found on a sandbar in a bend of the river between Springfield and Petersburg, Illinois.
“I really thought it was a cobble,” he told the newspaper. “There was (only a small portion) of it showing, and I thought, ‘What is that rock doing on my sandbar?’”
The Illinois State Museum website says Oneota people arrived in the central Illinois river valley around 700 years ago.
“The Oneota culture is something we know arrives in Illinois circa 1300,” Wiant told The State Journal Register. “We’ve known about four or five sites on the Illinois River and had a hint there was one on Salt Creek.”
However, he continued, “Both this find and the Salt Creek find are well out of the range where we expected to find this material.” Salt Creek is a major tributary to the Sangamon River.
The two looked for other artifacts around the sandbar, but came up empty handed. They both wonder how it came to rest on the sandbar and are curious if it was found elsewhere and placed where Hewitt found it.
He will donate the item to the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown, Illinois.