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Darts, Arrows, and Archaeologists: Distinguishing Dart and Arrow Points in the Archaeological Record

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Jon M. Erlandson
Affiliation:
Museum of Natural and Cultural History, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1224 (jerland@uoregon.edu)
Jack L. Watts
Affiliation:
Kellogg College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6PN, United Kingdom (jack.watts@gmail.com)
Nicholas P. Jew
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-12183 (njew@uoregon.edu)

Abstract

Using several methods to distinguish dart and arrow points, archaeologists have suggested that the bow and arrow appeared in various parts of the world between ˜65,000 and 1,000 years ago. Hildebrandt and King (2012) proposed a dart-arrow index (DAI) to help differentiate dart and arrow points, rejecting claims that the bow and arrow was introduced to western North America prior to the Late Holocene. We used the DAI and other methods to evaluate ˜11,700-year-old projectile points from Santa Rosa Island, obtaining mean values below the threshold for darts, comparable to several North American arrow point types. We have no direct evidence that these small points were used on darts, arrows, or hand-thrown spears, but faunal associations suggest that they may have served as harpoon tips used on atlatl darts to capture birds, fish, and marine mammals. The DAI and other methods for discriminating between dart and arrow points are based almost exclusively on ethnographic and archaeological specimens from interior regions. Our analysis suggests that such methods should not be applied universally, especially in coastal or other aquatic settings, and that archaeologists should continue to critically assess the antiquity of the bow and arrow and the function of projectile points worldwide.

Resumen

Resumen

Mediante el uso de varios métodos para distinguir entre dart y puntas de flechas, los arqueólogos han sugerido que el arco y flecha apareció en diversas partes del mundo entre ˜65,000 y 1,000 años atrás. Hildebrandt y Rey (2012) propone un dardo de flecha índice (DAI) para ayudar a diferenciar dart y puntas de flechas, rechazando las afirmaciones de que el arco y fieche se introdujo al oeste de América del Norte antes de fines del Holoceno. Hemos utilizado la DAI y otros métodos para evaluar ˜11,700 años de puntas de proyectil en Isla Santa Rosa, obteniendo valores promedio por debajo del umbral de dardos, comparable a la de diversos flecha América del Norte tipos de punto. Nosotros no tenemos una evidencia directa de que estos pequeños puntos se utilizaron a los dardos, flechas, o la mano produce de lanzas, pero asociaciones faunisticas sugieren que podrían haber servido como puntas de arpón atlatl dardos para capturar aves, peces y mamíferos marinos. Los DAI y otros métodos para discriminar entre dart y las puntas de flecha se basan casi exclusivamente en muestras etnográficas y arqueológicas de las regiones del interior. Nuestro análisis sugiere que el empleo de estos métodos no debe aplicarse en todo el mundo, especialmente en las zonas costeras o en otros entornos acuáticos, y que los arqueólogos deben seguir para evaluar críticamente la antigóedad del arco y fleche y la función de puntas de proyectil.

Type
Reports
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 2014

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