What’s this Point?
Identifying a Fluted Point Donated to MOA
A couple months ago, a beautiful Paleo Period projectile point was donated to MOA. MOA’s curatorial team conducted further research and would like to share why this point is so interesting to us.
Projectile points from the Paleo Period are hard to come by in comparison to points from the later Archaic and Woodland Periods. This is due, in part, to the living conditions and resources available to people during this time. During the Paleo period, people lived in small bands following a nomadic lifestyle which means they were continually moving from place to place, often following the migration of their food. Caribou was the most widely hunted mammal, although First Nations also hunted smaller game and fish during this period. The total population in the earliest part of the Paleo Period in Ontario is estimated to be less than 1000 people. The wide variety of chert types found in this period suggest people travelled great distances in their seasonal rounds or had contact with people over wide areas.
The projectile point donated to MOA resembles what we think are the earliest forms of Clovis- like or Gainey fluted points. However, this point is atypical in two respects. First is the considerable amount of ripples near the tip on one side, and second is that the edges show possible reworking at a later time, possibly to create a hunting weapon tip. What’s interesting is that no major Paleo sites have been located or excavated in Ontario.
Typically, paleo peoples of Ontario favoured light coloured chert which makes this point distinct since it is on Upper Mercer Chert. This chert is primarily almost black, but it does take on a variety of secondary colours interspersed with the black including white, greys, and brown. Upper Mercer chert was often found in the Ohio Valley and use of this material lasted well into the Archaic period. Crowfield and Barnes Parkhill points are examples of other Paleo points found in Ontario.
Paleo points are fascinating not just because they can date around 12,000 years before present, but because they represent some of the earliest forms of technology found in Southern Ontario.
Chert: A fine grained sedimentary rock used for making various types of projectile points.
Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland- Clovis Points: http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Maryland_Projectile_Points/FindingAidsandImagePages/FindingAids/PaleoIndian/clovis.html
London Chapter OAS- Southern Ontario Projectile Points: http://www.ssc.uwo.ca/assoc/oas/points/sopoints.html
I was going to suggest Gainey, just like you guys suggest. I don’t think the ripples near the tip make it an exception to that type – it just looks like impact damage to me. The reworking of the edges look consistent with a point that’s been rolling around in a river for at bit. I saw that type of damage with a lot of the Folsom points I looked at for my dissertation. I could be wrong about that edge working though, since I don’t have the point in front of me in person.
Nice share! Interesting material. This point does suggest atlatl or spear tip as mentioned rather than…Too bad they can’t speak to us. Possibly traded from who knows where. Any known collections of identical material? I just love this stuff! Thanks for sharing.