Missing the Point: Identifying Perishable Projectiles in the Archaeological Record

Author(s): Sara Wingert; Khori Newlander

Year: 2017


For decades, archaeologists have used replicative studies to develop a better understanding of prehistoric technology. Many replicative studies have focused on the manufacture and use of stone projectiles, resulting in a detailed understanding of the design of hunting weapons in relation to various features of the environment and, in turn, elegant explanations for technological change over time. Yet if ethnographic accounts are any indication, lithic technology was only one (perhaps minor) part of many prehistoric technological systems. It is likely, then, that the technological changes we document through our morphometric analysis of stone projectile points occurred against a backdrop of perishable technologies often not represented in the archaeological record. Here, we report on a replicative experiment designed to investigate whether we can "see" perishable projectiles in the archaeological record based on the damage they inflict on animal bones. Specifically, we examine if wood-tipped, fire-hardened, and stone-tipped arrows produce distinctive damage signatures. We use the results of our study to examine explanations offered to account for the transition from the dart to the bow and arrow in North America.

Cite this Record

Missing the Point: Identifying Perishable Projectiles in the Archaeological Record. Sara Wingert, Khori Newlander. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430567)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16034