To the Sticking Point: The Effectiveness of Tip Cross-Sectional Area versus Perimeter in Identifying Potential Lithic Armatures.

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2017-05-21

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Churchill, Steven E

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Abstract

Killing prey from a distance using complex projectile weapons is a behavior unique to Homo sapiens. The archeological remnants of these weapons are mostly limited to their lithic points, as their organic components have decomposed. In order to distinguish these points from stones fashioned for other purposes and more accurately determine the advent of this advanced technology, researchers have primarily utilized a measurement known as tip cross-sectional area (TCSA). This metric was thought to be the most ballistically significant one available for this purpose based on studies of high velocity projectiles. Sisk and Shea (2011) hypothesized that tip cross-sectional perimeter (TCSP) is a more useful ballistic measurement when identifying low velocity projectiles such as arrows and darts. To test this idea, we designed and printed six arrowheads divided into pairs with either the same TCSA but different TCSP, or the same TCSP but different TCSA. Our results support the Sisk and Shea hypothesis that TCSP is a better predictor of a point’s penetration than TCSA. We also found that surface area, which is highly correlated to TCSP, may be the most useful ballistic measurement for low velocity projectiles. Utilizing TCSP and surface area, rather than TCSA, may allow archeologists and anthropologists to more accurately categorize points found in archeological sites prior to 40ka, a watershed moment in the development of modern human behaviors and population growth. If projectile weapons are identified prior to 40ka, their development may have served as a catalyst in the early cognitive evolution of man.

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Grady, Jackson (2017). To the Sticking Point: The Effectiveness of Tip Cross-Sectional Area versus Perimeter in Identifying Potential Lithic Armatures. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14581.


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