Arrow Heads

Introduction

This article includes descriptions and analysis of Long Island projectile points based primarily of the research of New York State Archaeologist William Ritchie in his book A Typology and Nomenclature for New York Projectile Points, 1961 with other references.

Timeline

Major-Aboriginal-Projectile-Points-In-New-York-State-Long-Islands-First-Inhabitants-William-Golder Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site
Major Aboriginal Projectile Points in New York State. Prepared by the Office of the State Archaeologist Text, layout and design by Phil Lord, Jr. From William Golder, Long Island’s First Inhabitants 1983 pp. 86-87

Paleo-Indian Period – Small nomadic hunting groups following migratory big game such as mastodon and caribou.

Archaic Period – Locally restricted small game huntinga nd plant gathering with seasonal camps oriented toward local environments.

Woodland Period – Development of pottery, cultivation of crops spplemented by hunting and gathering with settlement of expanding populations in semi-permanent villages.

Contact Period – Trade with European settlers and gradual substitution of European stles, goods and materials for those developed during prehistoric times.

Categorization

Clovis-Point-from-John-Strong-The-Alogonquian-Peoples-from-1700-pp-37 Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site
Clovis projectile point from the Paleo-Indian Period. Image from John Strong’s The Algonquian Peoples of Long Island from Earliest Times to the 1700s, pp. 37

Clovis Points were used for about 2,000 years by hunting and gathering bands across North America. The preferred material in North America for these points was “chert,” a subvitrious variety of quartz with a slightly lower percentage of silicon than flint.1

bare-island-point-from-william-a-ritchie-a-typology-and-nomenclature-1961 Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site
Bare Island Point, from William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 14

Bare Island Point’s average size from 1.2 inches to 3.8 inches. Found at Archaic sites in the lower Susquehanna watershed, found more abundantly on the Islands of the Susquehanna rather than hilltop sites. Presumed to be part of a varied and complex Late Archaic period, as it is contemporaneous with the steatite bowl.

The points are also found in some abundance on Staten Island and Long Island, with a diminishing frequency northward up the Hudson Valley.2

orient-fishtail-point-from-william-a-ritchie-a-typology-and-nomenclature-1961 Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site
Orient Fishtail Point, from William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 39

Orient Fishtail Point length range from 1-3/16 to 4 inches, predominantly 2 to 2-1/2 inches with a fish shape.

Associated with the Late Archaic and Transitional / Orient period into Early Woodland. This point is can be found on Eastern and Southern NEw York, particularly the middle and lower Hudson Valley and long Island.

On Long Island, the local points were made of quartz or quartzite pebbles.3

Steubenville-Lanceolate-Point-from-william-a-ritchie-a-typology-and-nomenclature-1961 Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site
Steubenville Lanceolate Point from William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 50

Steubenville Lanceolate Point ranges from 1 to 3-3/16 inches. Described as problematical in the New York area, the points were also found as part of the Panhandle Archaic of Wester Virginia in association with Steubenville Stemmed Points.

Along with West Virginia, and parts of the upper Ohio Valley, central New York, Susquehana Valley, Staten Island, upper Delaware Valley in New York, and eastern New York, the points can also be found on Long Island.4

SQUIBNOCKET-stemmed-point-from-william-a-ritchie-a-typology-and-nomenclature-1961 Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site
Squibnocket Stemmed Point from William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 126

Squibnocket Stemmed Point is described as a small, thick, very narrow drill-like point, with marked tapered stems. Ranging from 7/8 of an inch to 2 inches in length and spike shaped.

The point has been found on Martha’s Vineyard, and associated with the Wading River and Squibnocket Triangle Points from the Late Archaic stage. Ritchie describes the point as a variant of the Wading River Point. It is usually made of quartz with evidence of percussion chipping.

The point is common in southern New England and Long Island.5

SQUIBNOCKET-triangle-point-from-william-a-ritchie-a-typology-and-nomenclature-1961 Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site
Squibnocket Triangle Point from William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 126

Squibnocket Triangle Point range from 3/4 inches to 1-1/2 inches in legnth.

The Squibnocket Triangle Point is associated with the Squibnocket complex, but also present at the Wading River site on Long Island in association with Wading River points6.

The points are commonly found in southern New England and in southeastern and southern New York, especially on Long Island.

wading-river-point-from-william-a-ritchie-a-typology-and-nomenclature-1961 Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site
Wading River Point from William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 126

Wading River (narrow or small stemmed) points, much associated with the Late Archaic period, but shown to extend temporally into the Contact period7 are abundant at sites along the Connecticut coast adjacent to Shelter Island[.1 Bourne, 1972, pp. 37, Pagoulatos, 1983, pp. 56], and are a common point type occurring here.

Ritchie designates the point as “Wading River” type because he first excavated a complex dominated by this point on the Wading River Site (traditional Algonquian name Pahquahkossit) on Long Island.8

The point can also be found more specifically throughout New England, such as Massachussetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and occurring farther north, especially in the Connecticut Valley, and ranging southward through eastern Pennsylvania into the Middle Atlantic area.

The majority of Wading River points are made of quartz pebbles, evidently by direct percussion chipping. The relatively few examples composed of other materials, especially those of flint, are better made, thinner and more symmetrical.9

Object Sites

Bassford-Hawkins-arrowhead-from-number-57-ny-bulletin-pp.-3 Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Raconkamuck

Bassford Hawkins Arrowhead, from Walter Saxon The Bulletin - Number 57 1973 pp. 3

057011.000-Shelter-Island-NMAI-Smithsonian-Arrow-and-Drill-Point Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Manhansack-aqua-quash-awamock

Arrow and Drill Points, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION (057011.000). PHOTO BY NMAI PHOTO SERVICES.

057011.001-Shelter-Island-NMAI-Smithsoanian-Arrow-and-Drill-Points Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Manhansack-aqua-quash-awamock

Arrow and Drill Points, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION (057011.001). PHOTO BY NMAI PHOTO SERVICES.

057011.002-Arrow-and-Drill-Point-Shelter-Island-NMAI-Smithsoanian Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Manhansack-aqua-quash-awamock

Arrow and Drill Points, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION (057011.002). PHOTO BY NMAI PHOTO SERVICES.

068271.000-Arrow-Points-Montauk-Area-NMAI-Smithsonian Arrow Heads Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Montaukett

Arrow Points. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION (068271.000). PHOTO BY NMAI PHOTO SERVICES.

  1. John Strong, The Algonquian Peoples of Long Island from Earliest Times to the 1700s, pp. 37[]
  2.  William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 15[]
  3.  William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 39[]
  4.  William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 50[]
  5.  William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 126[]
  6. Ritchie, 1959[]
  7. Lavin, 1984, pp. 31[]
  8. Ritchie, 1959, pp. 78-88, 1969, pp. 241-242.[]
  9.  William A Ritchie’s A Typology and Nomenclature For New York Projectile Points, 1961, pp. 131[]