Getting to the Point: Evolutionary change in prehistoric weaponry

TitleGetting to the Point: Evolutionary change in prehistoric weaponry
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsHughes, S. S.
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
AbstractThe evolution of prehistoric weaponry remains an open question in North American archaeology. The traditional model argues for an early use of the throwing spear followed by the spearthrower and bow and arrow. A major difficulty in testing this model is, identifying the functional variables that characterize different weaponry. The evolution of prehistoric weaponry is reexamined here from an evolutionary perspective where projectile points are considered part of the complete weapon system and variation within that system is identified. The engineering of four weapon systems, the thrusting spear, throwing spear, spearthrower, and bow, are examined to identify those point variables that enhance the success of the system. These variables are then measured on a 9000-year sequence of projectile points from northwestern Wyoming to examine time/space patterns. The patterns reveal that the spearthrower was in use prior to 7500 years ago.