Skip to main content Accesibility Help

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.

Hide All
Anderson, A. D., and Tiffany, J. A. 1972 Rummels-Maske: A Clovis Find-Spot in Iowa. Plains Anthropologist 17: 5559.
Aschmann, H. 1952 A Fluted Point from Central Baja California. American Antiquity 17: 262263.
Bird, J. B. 1969 A Comparison of South Chilean and Ecuadorian “Fishtail” Projectile Points. The Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers 40: 5271.
Bird, J. B., and Cooke, R. G. 1978 The Occurrence in Panama of Two Types of Paleoindian Projectile Points. In Early Man in America from a Circum-Pacific Perspective, edited by Bryan, A. L., pp. 263272. Occasional Papers No. 1. Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta, Edmonton.
Borrero, L. A., and McEwan, C. 1997 The Peopling of Patagonia: The First Human Occupation. In Patagonia: Natural History, Prehistory, and Ethnography at the Uttermost End of the Earth, pp. 32-15. British Museum Press, London.
Bradley, B. A. 1993 Paleo-Indian Flaked Stone Technology in the North American High Plains. In From Kostenki to Clovis: Upper Paleolithic-Paleo-lndian Adaptations, edited by Soffer, O. and Praslov, N. D., pp. 251262. Plenum Press, New York.
Bryan, A. L. 1988 The Relationship of the Stemmed Point and Fluted Point Traditions in the Great basin. In Early Human Occupation in Far Western North America: The Clovis-Archaic Interface, edited by Willig, J. A., Aikens, C. M., and Fagan, J. L., pp. 5374. Anthropological Papers No. 21. Nevada State Museum, Carson City.
Carlson, R. L. 1991 Clovis from the Perspective of the Ice-Free Corridor. In Clovis Origins and Adaptations, edited by Bonnichsen, R. and Turnrnire, K. L., pp. 8190. Center for the Study of the First Americans, Corvallis, Oregon.
Chauchat, C, and Quinones, J. Zevallos 1979 Una Punta en Cola de Pescado Procedente de la Costa Norte del Peru. Nawpa Pacha 17: 143147.
Clark, D. 1984 Northern Fluted Points: Paleo-Eskimo, Paleo-Arctic, or Paleo-Indian. Canadian Journal of Anthropology 4(1): 6581.
Coe, M. D. 1960 A Fluted Point from Highland Guatemala. American Antiquity 25: 412413.
Daniel, R. I., and Wisenbaker, M. 1987 Harney Flats: A Florida Paleo-Indian Site. Baywood Publishing, Farmingdale, New York.
Dunbar, J. S. 1991 Resource Orientation of Clovis and Suwannee Age Paleoindian Sites in Florida. In Clovis Origins and Adaptations, edited by Bonnichsen, R. and Turnmire, K. L., pp. 185213. Center for the Study of the First Americans, Corvallis, Oregon.
Dragoo, D. W. 1973 Wells Creek: An Early Man Site in Stewart County, Tennessee. Archaeology of Eastern North America 1: 156.
Fiedel, S. J. 1999 Older Than We Thought: Implications of Corrected Dates for Paleoindians. American Antiquity 64: 95115. (HbRf 39), British Columbia. American Antiquity 53: 371-384.
Frederickson, D. A., and White, G. G. 1988 The Clear Lake Basin and Early Complexes in California's North Coast Ranges. In Early Human Occupation in Far Western North America: The Clovis-Archaic Interface, edited by WiUig, J. A., Aikens, C. M., and Fagan, J. L., pp. 7586. Anthropological Papers No. 21. Nevada State Museum, Carson City.
Garcia-Barcena, J. 1979 Una Punta Acanalada de la Cueva Los Grifos, Ocozocoatla, Chiapas. Cuaderna de Trabajo 17, Departmento de Prehistoria, INAH, Mexico.
Gnecco, C. 1994a The Pleistocene/Holocene Boundary in the Northern Andes: An Archaeological Perspective. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Gnecco, C. 1994b Fluting Technology in South America. Lithic Technology 19: 3542.
Goodyear, A. 1982 The Chronological Position of the Dalton Horizon in the Southeastern United States. American Antiquity 47: 382395.
Goodyear, A. C. III, Michie, J. L., and Charles, T. 1990 The Earliest South Carolinians: The Paleoindian Occupation of South Carolina. Occasional Papers No. 2. Archaeological Society of South Carolina, Columbia.
Gramly, R. M. 1993 The Richey Clovis Cache: Earliest Americans Along the Columbia River. Persimmon Press, Buffalo, New York.
Green, F. E. 1963 The Clovis Blades: An Important Addition to the Llano Complex. American Antiquity 29: 145165.
Gruhn, R., and Bryan, A. L. 1977 Los Tapiales: A Paleoindian Campsite in the Guatemalan Highlands. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 121: 235273.
Haynes, C. V. Jr. 1964 Fluted Projectile Points: Their Age and Dispersion. Science 145: 14081413.
Haynes, C. V. Jr. 1966 Elephant Hunting in North America. Scientific American 214(6): 104112.
Haynes, C. V. Jr. 1993 Clovis-Folsom Geochronology and Climatic Change. In From Kostenki to Clovis: Upper Paleolithic-Paleo-lndian Adaptations, edited by Soffer, O. and Praslov, N.D. pp. 219236. Plenum Press, New York.
Hester, T. R., Kelly, T. C., and Ligabue, G. 1981 A Fluted Paleo-Indian Projectile Point from Belize, Central America. Working Papers No. 1. Center for Archaeological Research, University of Texas, San Antonio.
Humphrey, J. D., and Ferring, C. R. 1994 Stable Isotopic Evidence for Latest Pleistocene and Holocene Climatic Change in North-Central Texas. Quaternary Research 41: 200213.
Jackson, L. J. 1995 A Clovis Point from South Coastal Chile. Current Research in the Pleistocene 12: 2123.
Johnson, E., Politis, G., Gutierrez, M., Martinez, G., and Miotti, L. 1997 Grassland Archaeology in the Americas: From the U.S. Southern Plains to the Plains of Argentina. Paper presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Nashville.
Kehoe, T.F. 1966 The Distribution and Implications of Fluted Points in Saskatchewan. American Antiquity 31: 530539.
Kelly, R.L., and Todd, L.C. 1988 Coming into the Country: Early Paleoindian Hunting and Mobility. American Antiquity 53: 231244.
Koldehoff, B. 1983 Paleo-Indian Chert Utilization and Site Distribution in Southern Illinois. The Wisconsin Archaeologist 64: 201238.
Levine, M. A. 1990 Accomodating Age: Radiocarbon Results and Fluted Point Sites in Northeastern North America. Archaeology of Eastern North America 18: 3363.
Lorenzo, J. L. 1953 A Fluted Point from Durango, Mexico. American Antiquity 18: 394395.
Lynch, T. F. 1978 The South American Paleoindians. In Ancient Native Americans, edited by Jennings, J. D., pp. 455-189. W. H. Freeman, San Francisco.
Marckese, T. A. 1995 Three Fluted Points from South Central Louisiana. Current Research in the Pleistocene 12: 3233.
Mason, R. P. 1988 Preliminary Report on the Fluted Point Component at the Aebischer Site (47Q30) in Calumet County, Wisconsin. Wisconsin Archeologist 69: 211226.
Mayer-Oakes, W. J. 1986a El Inga: A Paleo-Indian Site in the Sierra of Northern Ecuador. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. Volume 76, Part 4.
Mayer-Oakes, W. J. 1986b Early Man Projectile Points and Lithic Technology in the Ecuadoran Sierra. In New Evidence for the Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas, edited by Bryan, A. L., pp. 133156. Center for the Study of Early Man, Orono, Maine.
McCary, B. C. 1975 The Williamson Paleoindian Site, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. The Chesopiean 13(3): 48131.
Miotti, L. 1995 Piedra Museo Locality: A Special Place in the New World. Current Research in the Pleistocene 12: 3638.
Montgomery, J., and Dickenson, J.A. 1992 Additional Blades from Blackwater Draw Locality No. 1, Portales, New Mexico. Current Research in the Pleistocene 9: 3233.
Morrow, J. E. 1995 Clovis Point Manufacture: A Perspective from the Ready/Lincoln Hills Site in Jersey County, Illinois. MidcontinentalJournal of Archaeology 20: 167191.
Morrow, J. E. 1996 The Organization of Early Paleoindian Lithic Technology in the Confluence Region of the Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri Rivers. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Morrow, J. E. 1998 Excavations at the Martens Site, 23SL222. Missouri Archeological Society Quarterly 15: 47.
Nami, H. G. 1989 New Dates for the Paleoindian Societies of South America. Current Research in the Pleistocene 6: 1819.
Ossa, P. P. 1975 A Fluted “Fishtail” Projectile Point from La Cumbre, Moche Valley, Peru. Nawpa Pacha 13: 9798.
Perino, G. 1967 Early Projectile Points Found. Central States Archaeological Journal 14: 103106.
Phelps, A. L. 1990 A Clovis Projectile Point from the Vicinity of Samalayuca, Chihuahua, Mexico. The Artifact 28(4): 4951.
Politis, G. G. 1991 Fishtail Projectile Points in the Southern Cone of South America: An Overview. In Clovis Origins and Adaptations, edited by Bonnichsen, R. and Tummire, K.L. pp. 287301. Center for the Study of the First Americans, Corvallis, Oregon.
Reanier, R. E. 1996 Putu and Bedwell. In American Beginnings: The Prehistory and Paleoecology of Beringia, edited by West, F. H., Pp. 505511. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Sanders, T. N. 1990 Adams: The Manufacturing of Flaked Stone Tools at a Paleoindian Site in Western Kentucky. Persimmon Press, Buffalo, New York.
Schobinger, J. 1969 Prehistoria de Sudamerica. Nueva Coleccion Editoeise Labor, Barcelona.
Schobinger, J. 1971 Una Punta de Tipo “Cola de Pescado” de La Crucesita (Medoza). Anales de Arqueologia y Ethnologia XXV:8997.
Schobinger, J. 1973 Nuevos Hallazgos de Puntas “Colas de Pescado” y Consideraciones en Torno al Origen y Dispersion de la Cultural de Cazadores Superiored Toldense (Fell I) en Sudamerica. Atti del 40 Congresso Internazionale degli Americanisti 1: 3350. Genoa.
Seeman, M. 1994 Intercluster Lithic Patterning at Nobles Pond: A Case for “Disembedded” Procurement Among Early Paleoindian Societies. American Antiquity 59: 273288.
Simons, D. B., Shott, M. J., and Wright, H. T. 1984 The Gainey Site: Variability in a Great Lakes Paleoindian Assemblage. Archaeology of Eastern North America 12: 266279.
Snarskis, M. J. 1979 Turrialba: A Paleo-Indian Quarry and Workshop Site in Eastern Costa Rica. American Antiquity 44: 125138.
Stanford, D. 1991 Clovis Origins and Adaptations: An Introductory Perspective. In Clovis Origins and Adaptations, edited by Bonnichsen, R. and Tummire, K.L. pp. 113. Center for the Study of the First Americans, Corvallis, Oregon.
Tankersley, K. B. 1989 Late Pleistocene Lithic Exploitation and Human Settlement Patterns in the Midwest United States. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University. University Microfilms, Ann Arbor.
Taylor, R. E., Haynes, C. V. Jr., and Stuiver, M. 1996 Clovis and Folsom Age Estimates: Stratigraphic Context and Radiocarbon Calibration. Antiquity 70: 515525.
Tompkins, C. N. 1993 Classifying Clovis Points: A Study in Metric Variability. Unpublished M. A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson.
Tunnell, C. 1977 Fluted Projectile Point Production as Revealed by the Lithic Specimens from the Adair-Steadman Site in Northwest Texas. In Paleoindian Lifeways, edited by Johnson, E., pp.140-168. Museum Journal 17. Texas Tech University, Lubbock.
Turner, E. S., and Tanner, P. 1994 The McFaddin Beach Site on the Upper Texas Coast. Bulletin of the Texas Archaeological Society 65: 319336.
Willig, J.A. 1989 Paleo-Archaic Broad Spectrum Adaptations at the Pleistocene- Holocene Boundary in Far Western North America. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon.
Winfrey, J. 1990 An Event Tree Analysis of Folsom Point Failure. Plains Anthropologist 35: 263272.
Wormington, H. M. 1957 Ancient Man in North America. Fourth Edition. Denver Museum of Natural History, Colorado.
Young, B., and Collins, M. B. 1989 A Cache of Blades with Clovis Affinities from Northeastern Texas. Current Research in the Pleistocene 6: 2628.
Zarate, M., and Flegenheimer, N. 1991 Geoarchaeology of the Cerro La China Locality (Buenos Aires, Argentina): Site 2 and Site 3. Geoarchaeology 6: 273294.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed