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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Morphological and Temporal Variations in Bifurcate-Stemmed Dart Points of the Western Great Basin


There continues to be controversy regarding the typological affinities and temporal placement of bifurcate-stemmed dart points across much of the Great Basin. Morphological analysis of 688 projectile points from eight localities suggests that much of this variation conforms to two formal expressions, gracile artifacts equating to the Gatecliff Split-stem series in more northern areas and robust artifacts consistent with historical descriptions of the Pinto series in the southwestern Great Basin. Available chronological data place Pinto forms significantly earlier than their gracile counterparts. Empirical assessment of material profiles further implies that morphological variation among Pinto points can be explained in terms of toolstone availability and knapping qualities, which alter blade form more profoundly than stem/shoulder characteristics. This may have general implications for debates concerning artifact recycling trajectories, typological integrity, and the utility of dart points as time markers.

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