Dawn. The sun peaks over the horizon and casts its light on an open
field at the edge of a forest. In the shadow of a shrub, a white-tailed
deer nervously nibbles on tender branches. A concealed hunter slowly
raises his bow, aims, and releases the drawstring. The arrow flies toward
its target, but the deer, always wary, darts off at the snap of the
bowstring. The arrow strikes a limb. The tip of point snaps off. The
hunter retrieves the arrow, discards the point and puts the shaft into
his quiver. When he returns to camp, he fastens another point to the
Image of an
A thousand years later, a farmer cultivates corn. From the cab of his
tractor, he spots a white, pointed stone. Upon inspection, it looks
like a broken arrowhead, and he wonders: Who made it and when, and how
did it end up at this place?
It is difficult
to know how many prehistoric projectile points spear points,
dart points, and arrow points have been found in Illinois fields,
but it's probably more than a million. Each point is a piece of the
past, a piece that contributes to our understanding of the 12,000 years
of Native American history prior to the arrival of Europeans in the
most, of the points found throughout the state have yet to be identified.
Almost every month a person arrives at the Illinois State Museum with
a projectile point, often a collection of points, and asks: How old
is this? Who made it? What was it used for?
To provide possible
answers to these questions, and more, we have developed this Web presentation
on projectile points. It contains a database of type points from the
Museum's collection, a photo gallery of these points, and a simple approach
to the identification of some projectile points commonly found in Illinois.
In addition to providing an interactive identification key, we offer
answers to basic questions about projectile points, and we have compiled
a bibliography of other resources for projectile point identification.