Antler And Bone Projectile Points



Socketed Arrow Points

Judging from late Woodland and Mississippian Caddoan sites, Perino suggested the origin of antler faunal socketed arrow points (1-2) and bone socketed points (3-5)to be about A.D. 600 and that their use continued into Historic times, corresponding with the use of the bow. Bone points made from alligator toe bones will have an orifice at the tip end where the claw protruded from the bone.   Arrow points of this type have a distinctly smaller bore than dart points, measuring about 3/8 inch in diameter.  The bore of a dart points can measure 1/2 inch in diameter.  Arrow points normally measure about 2-3  cm in length while dart points can measure 3 or more inches in length.



This point type, while rare throughout the Southeast, was recovered in significant numbers by private collectors at the Tick Island site.  A cache of antler tine points was recovered from level 3 of burial BK9 at the Lake Jackson Mound site near Tallahassee, Florida, suggesting use by Fort Walton people.  Other recoveries might be expected in areas where bone was heavily used.  H. Trawick Ward also recovered several of these points at the Jenrette site in Orange County, North Carolina. The Jenrette site belongs to the Historic period between 1600 and 1680.   Webb also found them in a historic context at the Henry Island site in Marshall County, Alabama.

Socketed Dart Points

The name is generic and relates to atlatl dart tips made from the hollowed out tine of a deer antler.  Gregory Perino reported these, noting examples from Kentucky and Tennessee.

Antler dart tips can measure from 2 to 5 inches in length and are considerably larger than those presumably used as arrow points in later periods.  The dart tip was made by cutting the antler tine off at an angle producing one barb, or by cutting of the tine flat and grinding the center to a concave shape producing a double barb, or finally by leaving the basal edge flat to fit the end of the dart shaft.  Occasionally the distal end of the point was honed to a symmetrical conical shape in line with the drilled hole.  These artifacts are predominately a phenomenon of the eastern United States.


Thomas M. N. Lewis and Madeline Kneberg recovered examples of these points from a Late Mississippian period context at the Hiwassee Island site in Tennessee.[ii]  The Cushing site is located on Marco Island in southwestern Florida.  The example was recovered still hafted to the dart.  The site dated to the Glades IIIa period between A.D. 1125 and 1450.   A Late Archaic period example was recovered at the Bob’s Mound midden in Jenkins County, Georgia by Mr. Danny Greenway.  One example of a socketed antler dart point was recovered from an Archaic box grave at the Indian Knoll site in Tennessee by C.B. Moore.  The point was recovered still lodged in a human vertebra (Moore 1915). Deer have been hunted for over 12,000 years so it is likely that man made projectile points from their antlers long before the Late Archaic period, but the preservation of materials begins to be a problem.

[ii] Gilliland, Marion Spjut

                1918       The Material Culture of Key Marco Florida, Florida Classics Library