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ISM System :How Do I Use the Projectile Collection?
What are projectile points?
What Types of Points Are There?
What are points made from?
How are points made?
How were points used?
Using this Reference Collection
Identification Key
Image Gallery

How Do I Use This Reference Collection?

This reference collection consists of examples of a variety of prehistoric Native American projectile points commonly found in central Illinois. It is not comprehensive collection, but it provides examples from each major period of prehistory (see the MuseumLink prehistoric Native American module for more information about the periods of Illinois prehistory). If you have a projectile point to identify, simply compare its characteristics with the key, or you can explore the images and the database.

Some characteristics of a projectile point are more helpful than others in identification. Characteristics of the point stem (see the Glossary, below), as opposed to the point blade, are generally most informative. We have developed a key, a step-by-step means of comparing an unknown projectile point with known projectile points for the purpose of identification, to help you identify your projectile points. Each step of the process requires you to compare a specific characteristic of your specimen with the example on the screen. For example, look at the specimen pictured here. [Insert Image]

  • Identify the stem of the point. Is it notched or unnotched (see the Glossary)? This specimen is notched.
  • What is the type of notch: side notch or corner notch? This specimen has side notches.
  • What is the shape of the base: convex, flat, or concave? This specimen has a concave base.
  • Here are two projectile points with side notches and a concave base. Which does the unknown specimen most resemble? It most closely resembles the Graham Cave point. For more information about the Graham Cave point review the database about this particular specimen.
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