Finding historic artifacts in Franklin is a little passé.
Relics from the town’s Civil War battle show up from time to time — preserved bullets in trees, a belt buckle or a button from the Blues or the Greys.
But now something quite a bit older has been uncovered.
Archaeologists working with a team of MTSU and Texas A&M students uncovered what is likely a mastodon in a Franklin backyard. It’s excited the bone diggers, because there are only a handful of places in North America where a mastodon has been found.
It was a pretty lucky find. A handful of mastodon bones and prehistoric tools were found nearby in the late 1970s. Paul Litchy, an engineer and part-time instructor at Vanderbilt who owns the land, heard a speech by the state archaeologist about that find and realized it was near the land he’d bought in 1998. He invited the archaeologist out, and lo and behold, another very old Horton was below the soil.
Fans of prehistoric animals and Nashville know that in 1971, a saber-tooth tiger skull was discovered during construction of what is now the Regions Bank building. That skull was partially responsible for the logo of the Predators and is immortalized on the team’s shoulder patch.
So what’s the fate of our once-furry, be-tusked buddy? Will the semi-pro Franklin Knights basketball team change their name to the Mastodons?
Next up on the state’s plan is a pitch to have Litchy’s yard put on the National Register of Historic Places as a site of archaeological significance. The area was once a pond, which explains the animal’s presence, and tools perhaps used by ancient hunters were found nearby. Such a designation would protect the site from development, but all of that is contingent on the bones and artifacts being certified.
State archaeologist Aaron Deter-Wolf is not concerned.
“There’s a limited number of animals that were alive 12,000 years ago that could have had bones this big,” he said. “Odds are really good that it’s mastodon.”