Information on Alaskan Projectiles
ESKIMO PREHISTORY IN THE VICINITY OF POINT BARROW, ALASKA

JAMES A. FORD
 

VOLUME 47: PART 1
ANTHROPOLOGICAL PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY'
NEW YORK: 1959

 

SPURRED TANG ARROW POINTS WITH BARBS AND STONE POINTS


Figure 58o-s


   These arrow points have the well-defined shoulder and tapering tang with tiny spurs on opposite sides that characterize most of those of the
Utkiavik Phase. They are made of deer antler and average 10 cm. in length (range, 9 to 14 cm.). Above the tang the stems are round or oval in cross-section. Towards the tip they have one, or sometimes two, pronounced barbs placed only on one side. At the tip is a socket, lens-shaped in section, which is slit so that its two sides may be pulled together with binding to clamp the butt of a stone point. The broad groove to hold the binding is usually well made. Chipped flint points (described below) were used in this variety of antler arrowhead. Several examples collected from the Point Barrow vicinity are described by Murdoch. They were used for hunting large game such as polar bear.

 

 

CHIPPED FLINT POINTS

 

   According to Murdoch,1 as quoted in the foregoing pages, chipped flint arrow points were intended for use against bears. Either the points were mounted directly on the wooden shaft or they were affixed to the bone head with a socket, described above as "spurred tang with barbs and stone points." As noted by Murdoch,5  the points in the present collections are made of a dark, almost black chert, a gray, somewhat "waxy" chert, or, rarely, of jasper. The jasper tends to be brown or reddish in color.

 

   There can be no doubt that these are arrow points. However, there can be no such certainty about the chipped implements described below.

In general, the points in this group are very well flaked on both faces and are quite thin in section, in contrast to the rather thick diamond section arrow points listed above. The materials are a dark, almost black, chert, a gray-brown chert, and a translucent stone, possibly chalcedony.n
chert, and a translucent stone, possibly chalcedony.

 

 

FIG. 64

 

 

CLASS 1:

   Long narrow projectile points with blades diamond-shaped in section, rather thick in comparison to width (Fig. 64). The chipping is nicely done; it could almost be termed "ripple flaking." The shoulders are square and unbarbed. The relatively short stems have parallel sides with square bases. These points are identical with Murdoch's Fig. 183. Although the proportions and other features are the same, these points range from 9.5 cm. down to a length of 3.5 cm. The shorter points formed Murdoch's second group.

 

CLASS 2:

   Chipped stemmed points with rather sloping shoulders. These formed Murdoch's third group. Points of this class in the present collections are not so competently chipped as those described above (Fig. 64). Murdoch's last class, a straight-stemmed point with a blade about as broad as long, was represented in his collection by a single newly made point. None appears in the collections described here.

 

CLASS 3:

   A distinctive type of projectile point not described by Murdoch is associated with the forms listed above. This is a relatively long, narrow, unstemmed point with a squared, thinned base. In outline it resembles Larsen and Rainey's Type 1, but differs in that it is thicker in cross-section (Fig. 64).6 Murdoch has described the manufacture and use of the preceding categories of flint points.

 

CLASS 4: 

Thin, wide, well-chipped points with slight shoulders, curving blade edges. The stems, which form almost one-half of the length
of the points, have either straight or curved bases. These average about 6 cm. in length and range from 4 to 9 cm. (Fig. 64).

 

CLASS 5:

Willow-leaf shaped points without separate stems. These are also quite thin and are well chipped. The edges of the blades curve to the tip, but the bases are either rounded or almost straight, approaching a triangular form. In length these blades range from 2.7 to 8 cm. (Figs. 64, 9g-j).

 

The provenience of the various forms of chipped projectile points is given  Classes 1 to 3, were all found in the late sites, Nuwuk and Utkiavik,
and the recent deposits at Nunagiak, particularly Cut 2. The broad, thin, nicely chipped points, both with the characteristic U-shaped stem (Class 4) and the unstemmed (Class 5), came from the older deposits at Nunagiak and were the only types found in the Birnirk deposits. The Kugok burials yielded only the leaf shaped

 

COMPARISONS:

 

Chipped implements of chert and similar materials are not abundant on St. Lawrence Island and are more characteristic of the Old Bering Sea Period than of later cultural stages. From the Hillside Site, Collins describes thin, well-flaked, leaf-shaped points that are similar to Class 5 points. Slightly larger stemmed forms were possibly knife blades. These have wide stems and slight shoulders, as do the points of Class 4, but the bases of the stems
tend to be somewhat straighter than is usual in the Point Barrow Area.' Giddings' dated sequence from the Kobuk River parallels the Point Barrow sequence and suggests dates in the latter region as follows:

 

 

 

GIDDINGS' SEQUENCE' ~~~~~POINT BARROW CLASS
1250 A.D. Thin, stemless, wedge shaped points Class 5
1400 A.D. Thin, wide-stemmed, Ekseavik, Type A points Class 4
1550 A.D. Transitional to following
1750 A.D. Long, parallel-sided points with rhomboid cross-section and small rectangular stem Class 1

 

 

 

   The Ipiutak Culture finds at Point Hope include only a few stemmed points that could have been used to tip arrows. Some of these rare forms are similar to the wide-stemmed, weak shouldered, Class 4 form found at Barrow.3 An exact parallel to the more common, stemless, Ipiutak arrow points does not occur in the collections from the Point Barrow Area. From the Thule Period and recent remains at Point Hope, Larsen and Rainey illustrate points directly comparable to the Point Barrow Class 1.4


   Mathiassen identifies flaked points with stems as harpoon blades. This is probably correct. In any event, these side-notched and stemmed forms are not identical with any of the points in the Point Barrow sequence."


   The thick, parallel-sided arrowpoint with a rectangular tang (Class 1) has been found as far east as Barter Island., This particular late form probably does not extend much farther east and is essentially a northwestern Alaska development.

 

I Collins, 1937, 324.
2 Mathiassen, 1927a, P1. 8, Figs. 2, 6.
' Collins, 1937, 323-324.
' Collins, 1937, P1. 34; Rainey, 1941, Fig. 14, Items 1-6.
6 Murdoch, 1892, 202-204

6 Larsen and Rainey, 1948, P1. 2, Figs. 1-6.

 

 

 

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