A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Weapons of Choice
Archaeologists excavating at the Paleoindian site of Cooper’s Ferry in western Idaho have unearthed 14 stone projectiles with stems on their ends that date to some 16,000 years ago, making them the earliest such weapons to be discovered in North America. A team led by Oregon State University archaeologist Loren Davis discovered the points buried in two pits that appear to have been dug around the same time. The points were found along with stone waste flakes, bone fragments, and simpler stone tools. “The pits are the size of medium-sized garbage cans,” says Davis. “Maybe they were using them to clean up a dwelling we haven’t found yet.” He notes, however, that the points seem to be in good condition. “Perhaps they were being stored in equipment caches and were intended to be used after people came back to the site,” he says. Another possibility is that the points were retired as part of a ritual. The points’ shape resembles that of stemmed projectiles found in northern Japan that date to around 20,000 years ago. This raises the possibility that the people at Cooper’s Ferry may have been using a technology that originated somewhere around the Asian Pacific Rim.
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