Projectile Points Poster by Robert L. Pyle West Virginia
Projectile Points Poster by Robert L. Pyle West Virginia
Projectile Points Poster by Robert L. Pyle West Virginia
Projectile Points Poster by Robert L. Pyle West Virginia
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Projectile Points Poster by Robert L. Pyle West Virginia

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NOTE: Points on the poster are shown actual size 1:1 scale.


In archaeological terms, a projectile point or arrowhead is an object that was hafted to weapon that was capable of being thrown or projected, such as a spear, dart, or arrow, or perhaps used as a knife. They are thus different from weapons presumed to have been kept in the hand, such as axes and maces, and the stone mace or axe-heads often attached to them.


Stone tools, including projectile points, can survive for long periods, were often lost or discarded, and are relatively plentiful, especially at archaeological sites, providing useful clues to the human past, including prehistoric trade. A distinctive form of point, identified though lithic analysis of the way it was made, is often a key diagnostic factor in identifying an archaeological industry or culture. Scientific techniques exist to track the specific kinds of rock or minerals that used to make stone tools in various regions back to their original sources.


As well as stone, projectile points were also made of worked bone, antler or ivory; all of these are less common in the Americas. In regions where metallurgy emerged, projectile points were eventually made from copper, bronze, or iron, though the change was by no means immediate. In North America, some late prehistoric points were fashioned from copper that was mined in the Lake Superior region and elsewhere.


A large variety of prehistoric arrowheads, dart points, and spear points have been discovered. Flint, obsidian, quartz and many other rocks and minerals were commonly used to make points in North America. The oldest projectile points found in North America were long thought to date from about 13,000 years ago, during the Paleo-Indian period, however recent evidence suggests that North American projectile points may date to as old as 15,500 years. Some of the more famous Paleo-Indian types include Clovis, Folsom and Dalton points.

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