MARINE POINTS

Stingray Spine Points

Alligator Gar Scale Points

Wet environments and shell middens along coastal areas have produced a variety of projectile point types made from at least two different marine animals in addition to shark teeth.  The Spanish chronicler Garcilaso mentioned the "fish" spine in the only known detailed description of Native American arrows.  He wrote,

"All had shafts of reed.  For heads, some had tips of deer horn worked to a very great perfection with four corners like the point of a diamond; others, fish spines marvelously designed for their particular purpose, and still others, heads of plain and additional strong woods that grow in that land -- heads with two and three harpoons which were carved as perfectly in the wood as if they were made of iron or steel, these arrows were feathered in a triangle so that they would leave the bow more accurately."

This account described arrows from an area northwest of Apalachee.  Stingray spines have been recovered in several coastal sites measuring 3.3 to 3.75 inches in length and were likely used as bone dart points.  If the "fish" spines referenced by Garcilaso were made from somewhat smaller stingray spines, they would have certainly been "marvelously designed for their particular purpose" as they require little to no alteration for use and the sharp barbs along the edges of the spine would make the point especially effective.  Florida sites containing Stingray barb points date to the Early Woodland period and beyond.

The Alligator Gar is a rather large fish measuring up to 12 feet in length and is fairly common to the streams and rivers of southern Georgia and Florida.  Its scales are thick and are naturally bi-pointed.  With little effort, barbs could have been abraded into this natural form.  Gar Scale points seem to have been most heavily used by Mississippian cultures.  One example was recovered as far north as Monroe County, Georgia.  Recovery of these points is limited to the environment of their preservation in shell middens or moderately acidic soils.