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Size and Shape Variation in Late Holocene Projectile Points of Southern Patagonia: A Geometric Morphometric Study

  • Judith Charlin (a1) and Rolando González-José (a2)

Since the beginning of systematic archaeological studies in southern Patagonia (Argentina and Chile), projectile points have played an important role as cultural markers. A sequence of projectile point types was established according to their changes in size and shape. These stone tools, along with others cultural evidences, served to differentiate a series of “culturai periods” which were, for decades, the frame of reference to understand the cultural evolution in southernmost Patagonia. Although later researches have questioned several of these assumptions, the classical typology of projectile points continued in use until the present day. The goal of this work is to evaluate size and shape variation in two late Holocene projectile point types, known as Fell, Bird, or Magallanes IV and V points or Patagónicas and Ona points, respectively. These two types are compared using geometric morphometries and multivariate statistical analyses. The reliability in the discrimination between types is tested at the light of reduction. The analyses have shown a major incidence of reduction on shape rather than on size, and on blade rather than on stem. However, in average, types IV and V can be distinguished in terms of size, and stem shape despite reduction. Thus, even though successive cycles of use, damage and resharpening have a great influence over size and shape of projectile points, resharpening techniques are specific enough to maintain the differences of size and shape between types, a pattern that is probably related with functional requirements.

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American Antiquity
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