Identifying bone-tipped arrow types in the archaeological record of Southern Africa: The contribution of use-trace studies

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Abstract

This study presents a historical review of the different types of southern African hunter-gatherer arrows employing a piece of bone situated at or near the tip of the arrow, which I call the apical bone component. The results of an extensive use-trace study of bone points and fragments thereof from twelve archaeological sites spanning the last 18,000 years show that it is possible to identify arrow types based on associated use-trace features. Five possible arrow types are identified from the archaeological sample, all dating to within the last 4000-6000 years. Using use-trace studies it is possible to identify now-missing components of the arrows, such as metal, mastic or stone inserts. Contrary to recent claims, I do not find evidence for bone-tipped arrows evolving along a continuum. Rather, some arrow types may have a much greater antiquity than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-147
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of African Archaeology
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Bone technology
  • Bone-tipped arrow identification
  • South Africa and Lesotho stone age sequence
  • Use-traces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History
  • Archeology (arts and humanities)
  • Archeology

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