An Assessment of the Impact of Resharpening on Paleoindian Projectile Point Blade Shape Using Geometric Morphometric Techniques

  • Briggs Buchanan
  • Mark Collard


Paleoindian archaeologists have long recognized that resharpening has the potential to affect the shape of projectile points. So far, however, the impact of resharpening on the distinctiveness of the blades of Paleoindian projectile points has not been investigated quantitatively. With this in mind, we used geometric morphometric techniques to compare the blades of Clovis, Folsom, and Plainview projectile points from the Southern Plains of North America. We evaluated two hypotheses. The first was that blade shape distinguishes the three types. We found that blade shape distinguished Clovis points from both Folsom and Plainview points, but did not distinguish Folsom points from Plainview points. The second hypothesis we tested was that resharpening eliminates blade shape differences among the types. To test this hypothesis, we used size as a proxy for ­resharpening. The results of this analysis were similar to those obtained in the first analysis. Thus, our study suggests that, contrary to what is often assumed, resharpening does not automatically undermine the use of blade shape in Paleoindian projectile point typologies.


Discriminant Function Analysis Misclassification Rate Shape Space Geometric Morphometrics Centroid Size 
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We thank the following institutions and people for access to the collections used in this study: Eastern New Mexico University-Portales for access to the Blackwater Draw assemblage; Museum of the Great Plains for access to the Domebo assemblage; Richard Rose for access to the Shifting Sands collection; Leland Bement (Oklahoma Archaeological Survey) ­provided digital photographs of the Cooper points; The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum for access to Lake Theo; Texas Archeological Research Laboratory for access to the Plainview assemblage, portions of the Milnesand, and Lubbock Lake assemblages; The late Ted Williamson and Ted Williamson Jr. for access to the Milnesand and Ted Williamson assemblages; The Museum of Texas Tech University for access to the Lubbock Lake and Ryan’s site collections. We thank Stephen Lycett, Mike O’Brien, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments. B.B.’s work on this project was made possible by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. M.C. is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, and Simon Fraser University.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Human Evolutionary Studies, Department of ArchaeologySimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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