Ancient bow located by local resident

Published 8:54 pm Thursday, July 24, 2008

Not many people can stride on to the University of Alabama’s campus, shotgun case in hand, and park in the employee parking lot, but Kellie Arledge, 13, did.

Although there was no gun in the case, it did contain a weapon, a Native American string bow estimated to be around 300 years old.

Arledge found the bow on a Sunday afternoon at her family’s vacation home on Lake Mitchell in November 2007 near the boat launch while the water was down nearly six feet from drought.

She picked up what she thought was a stick and shouted to her father and 15-year-old sister Julie, “I’m going to shoot you with my bow.”

Mark Arledge glanced around to see what his daughter found. Sure enough, it was a bow.

The surprised family carefully examined the narrow, carved piece of wood and found a dark, wiry strand wound around the top end of the bow.

Mark wrapped the bow in aluminum foil to preserve it on their journey home. He suspected in was Native American in origin, and a professor at University of Alabama confirmed his suspicions.

Kellie and her father took the artifact to Tuscaloosa to have archeological research director, Robert Crouse, examine the bow for authenticity.

Crouse snipped a tiny piece of the strand from the bow and tested it. The tests determined that the strand was horse hair with deer sinew, or muscle tissue, wrapped around it to give the bow string elasticity.

Kellie said she enjoyed the scientific process of finding the bow’s origin.

“I don’t really like history,” she said. “When I saw the sign on the door that said ‘CSI Alabama,’ I was excited. That was awesome.”

Crouse told the pair that the bow was potentially from the 1600s to 1700s, but the exact date of its making is still undetermined despite its water cocooned preservation.

Carbon-14 dating, a test that measures the age of artifacts from their nitrogen content, was not an option for the bow because of its nearly perfect condition since the process would require a quarter of the bow to be removed for analyzing and a whopping $3,000.

Ideas for preservation were tossed around, but Kellie decided to keep her treasure in her gun case. She said she doesn’t want to sell it or donate it to a museum yet.

She enjoys showing it off, her mother and owner of Southern Valley Jewelry and Pawn, Jackie Kendall, said.

“A lot of people come into the shop and want to see it,” Kellie said. “I feel famous.”