Burien Native Uncovers Historic Spear Tip On UW Campus

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Burien native and current University of Washington freshman Ellen Van Wyk was digging in the dirt to prepare for planting grapes at the campus greenhouse on Oct. 22nd when she uncovered something very unusual.

That “something” turned out to be a historic 4,000 to 7,000-year-old Native American spear tip, making this one of the most significant on-campus finds in 90 years.

Experts from the UW’s Burke Museum have since dug three test pits near the discovery site and have uncovered two more stone tool fragments. They will most likely display the historic spear tip and the other newly uncovered artifacts, but no date has been set.

According to her Mother, Meg:

Ellen has lived in Burien since she was 3 years old and attended Highline Public schools. She graduated in 2009 from MRHS. She is attending the honors college at U of W. She has a very strong interest in organic, sustainable farming, which is why she is active at the farm at the UW. At the time of discovery, the students were preparing the soil for planting a row of grapes. Ellen happened to be at the right spot at the right time and was able to determine she had something of interest.

Last year Ellen won 1st place in the state PTA Reflections contest for her art work. She placed as an honorable mention, nationally. She was also one of the local student artists featured in the 20/20 night event in Burien.

We caught up with Ellen, a freshman at the UW, and asked her some questions:

Ellen Van Wyk, left, shows the Native American spear tip she found to Laura Phillips of the Burke Museum. Photo by Mary Levin, University of Washington.

A: Correct. I went to Sunnydale, Shorewood, Sylvester and Mount Rainier High School.

Q: What are you studying at the UW? When do you graduate, etc.?

A: I’m not quite sure yet, but probably either art or plant biology.  I’m scheduled to graduate in 2013.

Q: Tell us what you found at the UW campus?

A: I found a spearhead that was created 4-7 thousand years ago..

Q: How did you find it? What specifically were you doing?

A: I was helping out at the farm, preparing the soil for grapes. This involves sorting through the soil for rocks.

Q: Have you dug around campus before? Ever find anything else?

A: haha no.

The 4,000 to 7,000-year-old Spear Tip found by Van Wyk. Photo courtesy The Ruke Museum.

A: I knew it was a projectile, but since it was under a foot of soil I didn’t think it had much significance.

Q: Have you ever found anything historic like this before?

A: No.

Q: When you found out what you had uncovered, what did you think?

A: It made me realize that our country is really a blip on the history of this land.

Q: Does finding this make you consider changing your major?

A: Although it’s been interesting, no.

For more information on Ellen’s historic find, read these articles:

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