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Geographic Variation in Fluted Projectile Points: A Hemispheric Perspective

  • Juliet E. Morrow (a1) and Toby A. Morrow (a2)

This paper examines geographic variation in fluted point morphology across North and South America. Metric data on 449 North American points, 31 Central American points, and 61 South American points were entered into a database. Ratios calculated from these metric attributes are used to quantify aspects of point shape across the two continents. The results of this analysis indicate gradual, progressive changes in fluted point outline shape from the Great Plains of western North America into adjacent parts of North America as well as into Central and South America. The South American “Fishtail” form of fluted point is seen as the culmination of incremental changes in point shape that began well into North America. A geographically gradual decline in fluting frequency also is consistent with the stylistic evolution of the stemmed “Fishtail” points. Although few in number, the available radiocarbon dates do suggest that “Fishtail” fluted points in southern South America are younger than the earliest dates associated with Clovis points in western North America. All of these data converge on the conclusion that South American “Fishtail” points evolved from North American fluted points.


Este estudio examina la variación geográfica en la morfología de puntas de proyectil acanaladas en América. Los datos métricos de 449 puntas de proyectil norteamericanas, 31 centroamericanas y 61 sudamericanas fueron archivados en una base de datos. Las proporciones que se calcularon de estos atributos métricos se usaron para cuantificar aspectos morfológicos. Los anàlisis realizados sénalan cambios graduates y progresivos en la forma de las puntas de proyectil acanaladas de los Grandes Llanoras del oeste norteamericano;estos cambios se ven no sólo en otras regiones contiguas de Norteamérica, sino también en Centro y Sudamérica. La forma cola de pescado de la punta de proyectil acanalada de Sudamérica se entiende como la culminación de cambios incrementales en la forma de la punta de proyectil que comenzaron muy dentro de Norteamérica. Una declinacion geográfica gradual en la frecuencia de la acanaladura corresponde a la evolución estilistica de las puntas cola de pescado que tienen pedúnculo. Aunque son muy pocas, las fechas de radiocarbón determinadas sugieren que las puntas acanaladas cola de pescado en el sur de Sudamérica son mas recientes que las fechas más tempranas asociadas con las puntas de proyectil Clovis en el oeste de Norteamérica. Todos estos datos nos hacen concluir que las puntas surdmericanas cola de pescado evolucionaron de las puntas de proyectil acanaladas de Norteamérica.

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B. A. Bradley 1993 Paleo-Indian Flaked Stone Technology in the North American High Plains. In From Kostenki to Clovis: Upper Paleolithic-Paleo-lndian Adaptations, edited by O. Soffer and N. D. Praslov , pp. 251262. Plenum Press, New York.

C Chauchat , and J. Zevallos Quinones 1979 Una Punta en Cola de Pescado Procedente de la Costa Norte del Peru. Nawpa Pacha 17: 143147.

S. J. Fiedel 1999 Older Than We Thought: Implications of Corrected Dates for Paleoindians. American Antiquity 64: 95115. (HbRf 39), British Columbia. American Antiquity 53: 371-384.

C. V. Haynes Jr. 1964 Fluted Projectile Points: Their Age and Dispersion. Science 145: 14081413.

C. V. Haynes Jr. 1966 Elephant Hunting in North America. Scientific American 214(6): 104112.

C. V. Haynes Jr. 1993 Clovis-Folsom Geochronology and Climatic Change. In From Kostenki to Clovis: Upper Paleolithic-Paleo-lndian Adaptations, edited by O. Soffer and N.D. Praslov pp. 219236. Plenum Press, New York.

P. P. Ossa 1975 A Fluted “Fishtail” Projectile Point from La Cumbre, Moche Valley, Peru. Nawpa Pacha 13: 9798.

R. E. Taylor , C. V. Haynes Jr., and M. Stuiver 1996 Clovis and Folsom Age Estimates: Stratigraphic Context and Radiocarbon Calibration. Antiquity 70: 515525.

M. Zarate , and N. Flegenheimer 1991 Geoarchaeology of the Cerro La China Locality (Buenos Aires, Argentina): Site 2 and Site 3. Geoarchaeology 6: 273294.

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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
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