How to Identify Arrowheads: 6 Easy Ways to Find Out

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How to Identify Arrowheads

There are various kinds of arrowheads designed by the Native Americans. Around 1,200 types have been recorded to date.

The identification of these arrowheads would let you learn more about the history and way of life of the people who made and used them, which could have dated back thousands of years ago.

Since there are several types of arrowheads, you would need knowledge to properly tell them apart. Here are helpful ways of how to identify arrowheads.

This interesting video discusses matters relating to arrowheads, including how to identify arrowheads:

Indian Arrowhead Facts

Collecting rare ancient items for most people is more than a side interest; it is an enthusiasm. Each of the relics left by old Indians recounts to us a story, and gives us a look into the past. There are some people who feel obliged to search for them, distinguish, and protect them to make them available for the future generations.

Here are ways of how to identify arrowheads:

  • ​Materials used: Identifying the material where the arrowhead is made from is one way on how to identify its type. This is helpful, especially if you’re not sure where the arrowhead was found. The materials used in creating these arrowheads were usually found only on certain areas and used by specific tribes, like the Native American Indians who lived during the Stone Age. During that time, arrowheads were for the most part made of stones.
  • Shape: Shape is another pointer for Indian antiques. Pointed stones were connected to the bolt shafts and used with a bow. Some arrowheads were secured on a handle and tossed to hit the target like a deer or other animals as they are often used for hunting.
  • ​Configuration: This is additionally a critical pointer. The way that they were made may not be perfect. However, this is still impressive considering that they were made by hand, as machines were not available during that period. They were of high quality and were finished with additional time and effort. Indians made arrowheads show their motivation and their creativity. The sharpened stone or shot point is the essential part of the bolt. Pointed stones can likewise be stemmed, stemless or indented.
  • Attributes: Arrowheads could be distinguished on what culture and time period they were made based on their attributes. Their shapes and thickness may have changed after some time because of various reasons such as their capability and innovation. All in all, the bigger, finely made points are, the most popular the arrowheads. They are called lance points. The medium arrowheads that have thick points are called dart points. These are in the middle of bolts and lance, and they were utilized with an atlatl.
  • Area: Determining the area where the sharpened arrowhead was found could help in identifying the arrowhead. If you know the state or area where the sharpened arrowhead was from, it would shorten the list among the 1,200 recorded types of arrowheads available as possible options.
  • State or condition: Look at the general state of the sharpened stone. For instance, is it stemmed, stemless or indented? If it's stemmed, check the condition of the stem. In case it’s stemless, see if it's fluted or not. If it’s scored, determine if it's indented in the side or from the corner. The area and the configuration of the pointed arrowhead are sufficient to limit your options to just 12 potential types. This is more convenient that having to select from thousands of possible arrowheads.

To further help you know how to identify arrowheads, it would also help to check books written about the different types of arrowheads that you could use for cross-referencing. This would make it easier for you to identify the arrowhead that you have, especially if a similar type is already on the books that you found.

One of the books that you may want to see is the Arrowheads & Stone Artifacts: A Practical Guide for the Surface Collector and Amateur Archaeologist. The book was written by C. G. Yeager.

Other books that could serve as your reference for arrowhead identification are The Official Overstreet Identification and Price Guide to Indian Arrowheads written by Robert M. Overstreet and Arrowheads and Projectile Points written by Lar Hothem.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrowhead

http://www.ehow.com/how_4866609_identify-arrowheads.html

http://www.indians.org/articles/arrowheads.html

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