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In archaeology, a projectile point is an object that was hafted and used either as knife or projectile tip or both, commonly called an arrowhead. Occasionally, projectile points made of worked bone or ivory are found at archaeological sites, but generally the term is reserved for a refined chipped-stone biface. Projectile points fall into two general types: dart points and arrow points. Dart points are defined as those bifaces which were used to tip spears and atlatl darts. Arrow points are smaller and lighter than dart points, and were used to tip arrows. In North American archaeology, dart and arrow points come in an amazing variety of shapes and styles, which vary according to time and geographic area. The question of how to distinguish an arrowpoint from a point used on a larger weapon is non-trivial; the best indication is the width of the hafting area, which will correlate to the width of the shaft (Wyckoff 1964).


Standard Projectile Point terminology: a - point or tip, b-edge, c- blade or face, d - step, e - tang, f - base, g - notch, h - barb, i - shoulder. (Adapted from Ritchie, 1989)

The terminology used in describing Native American projectile points is illustrated in the diagram on the right.


  • Wyckoff, Don G., 1964, The cultural sequence of the Packard Site, Mayes County. Oklahoma. Archaeological Site Report,
  • No. 2. Oklahoma River Basin Survey Project, University of Oklahoma Research Institute.
  • Ritchie, William A., 1989, A Typology and Nomenclature for New York Projectile Points, New York State Museum Bulletin Number 384, The University of the State of New York, The State Education Department, Albany, New York.

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