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Mastodon Tooth
Sometimes artifacts are found by local farmers eroding from the bank, as happened with this mastodon tooth. (From La Crosse Tribune, June 10, 1923)
What makes the work of archaeologists very difficult is that many of the artifacts that people used and left behind are never found for one reason or another. Some of those artifacts, because of their age or because of the natural materials from which they were made, have just disintegrated and disappeared over the hundreds or thousands of years. Sometimes the artifacts end up in different places from where they were originally left. For example, artifacts left along the bank of a stream may be picked up and moved when the stream floods. Sometimes artifacts just remain buried beneath layers of soil in someone's backyard in a city, under acres of corn in a farmer's field, or beneath leaves and debris on the forest floor.

Being an archaeologist is a challenging job, to be certain. An archaeologist's job is very much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without having a picture to use as a reference. On top of that, some of the pieces undoubtedly will always remain missing. Even more confusing is that some pieces might seem to fit in more than one place at the same time!

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