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ISM System :What Type of Projectile Points Are There?
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
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What Types of Points Are There?

Archaeologists have long known that prehistoric Native Americans made projectile points in different sizes and shapes. Through research, they discovered that, in general, Native Americans made points of a particular shape at a particular time. They calculated the age of different shapes of points by determining the age of the deposit in which they were found. At first, archaeologists could not tell time with much precision. With the development of new techniques that measure the amount of radioactive carbon in organic materials such as charred plant material or animal bone, archaeologists can determine age within a couple of hundred years. Thus, they can estimate the age of a projectile point by dating charred plant material or animal bone found in the same deposit.

To sort out the variety of projectile point types, archaeologists name them and assign them to particular cultures or periods of time. For example, the Clovis point is named for an ancient site found near Clovis, New Mexico in the 1920s. Based on continuing research, archaeologists have learned that Native Americans made and used Clovis points between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago.

To aid in the identification of projectile points and other artifacts, archaeologists develop reference collections. A reference collection consists of examples of particular types for comparative purposes. It is used to identify artifacts consistently to ensure that scientists and laymen alike can discuss what they have found.

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