Backed point experiments for identifying mechanically-delivered armatures

Katsuhiro Sano, Masayoshi Oba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


The emergence of mechanically-delivered armatures was a crucial event in human evolution, indicating technological and cognitive advances. Morphometric analysis has been the most commonly employed method to explore this subject. While a morphometric analysis can demonstrate a potential capability as a projectile, it is inevitable that the analyzed sample includes artifacts that were not used as hunting weapons. Furthermore, proxies derived from ethnographic references might be dependent on spatio-temporal contexts. Thus, a reliable identification of spearthrower darts and arrowheads in archaeological assemblages requires new indicators. Here we present results of controlled experiments, using backed point replicas, designed to test a correlation between impact velocities and impact trace patterns. Macroscopic and microscopic analyses of experimental replicas indicated that complex fracture formation, including large numbers and dimensions of spin-offs as well as distinctive microscopic linear impact traces (MLITs), provide useful markers for determining mechanically-delivered backed points.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-23
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Nov 1


  • Backed points
  • Japanese upper palaeolithic
  • Mechanically-delivered armatures
  • Projectile experiments


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