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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Experimental Study of Projectile Point Fracture Patterns


Projectile point fragments can represent a significant percentage or even exceed the number of diagnostic specimens recovered at a given site (Aikens 1970:34; Ames et al. 1981:79; Plew 1981:146). This paper is an effort to contribute to our ability to obtain useful information from projectile point fragments. Specifically, we attempt to present a means of determining causes of projectile point damage and particularly to differentiate use-related breakage from manufacturing-induced breakage. This determination may ultimately offer additional data relative to site function, identification of task-specific loci within sites, and other avenues of inquiry. Toward that end, we propose descriptive terminology and present data from an experimental study involving the manufacture, use, and breakage of a specific Great Basin projectile point type.

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