Saturday, July 25, 2009

What's the Point?

Stratum 1 of Unit 44 in the Compton Field yielded the glass bead and the clay marble highlighted in the last two posts. From that same provenience the crew recovered this Brewerton projectile point.

Brewerton projectile point, Lot 660.

The point is about 1.6" long, 0.8" wide, and 0.25" thick (42 mm, 20 mm, and 7 mm for those metrically inclined), and made of quartzite, probably from a local stream pebble. Precisely when this side-notched point was made, used, and discarded remains uncertain. Examples found in the northeastern United States often are considered to be more recent (Late Archaic period, or 4,000 BC to 1,000 BC) and those further south are often considered to be earlier (Middle Archaic, or 6,000 BC to 4,000 BC). Brewerton points were first classified by William A. Ritchie based on numerous finds with shared characteristics at an archaeological site on Brewerton Lake in New York State. These point types have been recovered from Maine to Alabama, although it is by no means certain that they were used at the same time. Indeed, I suspect we are looking at independent invention of similar forms.

Brewerton points, like most projectile points pre-dating the Late Woodland period (ca. AD 900-AD1600), probably tipped javelins propelled by throwing sticks, or atlatls.

The presence of this point in the same deposit as the clay marble and the trade bead demonstrates the highly mixed nature of the plowed deposits. Mixed or not, however, those deposits reveal the very considerable antiquity of the Indian presence along Port Tobacco Creek.


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