The Projectile Point in Perspective: A review of classification systems, consistency, and context regarding the dart-arrow dichotomy in North American archaeology
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Intend on publishing parts of the thesis.
The sorting of artefacts into categories for study represents simultaneously one of the most important – and yet one of the most problematic – tasks in archaeology. In an ideal world, the archaeological record would comprise clearly-defined and easily-separable groups of material for consistent identification and interpretation; the reality, though, is somewhat different. Here, in a systematic review of associated classification systems, the long-standing dart-arrow dichotomy in North American archaeology provides valuable insight into the relationship between classificatory idealism and practical reality, and, in-so-doing, lends itself to a much-needed reassessment of technological change. As the results derived from different study areas using different classification analyses make clear, traditional assumptions of a consistent large dart, small arrow point divide are far too simplistic, overlook the importance of individual context, and obscure the deeper complexities of human technological adaptation. Although a necessary and inevitable part of the interpretive process, thus, artefact classification must be approached in a more reflexive manner if the results derived are to provide meaningful insight into past systems and behaviour; something that can only be achieved via regular systems of review.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council
PhD in Archaeology