Prehistory of West Virginia - Bow and Arrow

Bow and Arrow

The bow as a utility tool for drilling and fire starting arrives much earlier than the arrow. "The introduction of the bow and arrow coincides with the development of, or adoption of, a triangular tradition of point manufacture", to quote Dr. Billy Oliver, North Carolina Office of State Archaeology (2008). In 1877 at the Ash Cave site in the Hocking Hills, Ohio, dry organic remains of possible arrow shafts were recovered (Ohio Historical Society). Jack's Reef (notched) and the common Levanna projectile points are thought by many to represent the initial introduction of the bow and arrow to West Virginia. The first appearance of the arrow dates a little later, 600 CE, within the state.

The introduction of the bow and arrow for hunting appears in the greater region by 500 CE (OHS) and clearly at village sites in West Virginia by 800–900 CE. The arrow was found to come from the north to the northwest valleys and to the East Allegheny Mountains slopes from the Piedmont Plateau. The Jacks Reef and Levanna are true early arrow points within the state. Jack’s Reef Corner Notched (600-1200 CE, WVAS & WVCA) points are referred to as "Intrusive Mound" points and are also generally confirmed at places in the state by the formal scholastic papers. There is evidence of the triangular point size in the mountainous regions progressively diminishing in size from lower land's in gradual evolutionary steps (Oliver). Not only does the triangle point indicate bow hunting in the state, it also accompanies a few examples of curious small stone walls on the ridge line flats of the SE region followed by the palisaded wood pole fort builder cultures in the northwest valleys.

Propagation of lithics was summarized by Dr. Oliver, NC Office of State Archaeology in 1999, "If a tradition of manufacture can be identified and substantiated by stratigraphic discoveries in a number of distinct locales, it is then possible to recognize that particular tradition of manufacture through time and across space. Intrusive technological traditions may also be recognized. Recognition of attributes common to a particular tradition allows the archaeologist to go beyond pigeon-holing and make more meaningful interpretations from these ancient pieces of stone."

Surface arrowhead hunting yields a wide variation of projectile points along the major trans-region thoroughfares in the state. The state has centuries of "picking-up" points from the time of settlement that have now become rather scarce. These have been saved by long held local private, university, and other public owned displayed collections. Along the western routes of tributary streams, points made of material from SE Ohio and W Pennsylvania are some times found on the surface north from the Great Kanawha. Although, the more distant distinctive neighboring cultural phase points are considered rare finds in the state. The earlier concave base type, elongated Yadkin, dates 300 to 1300 CE. The scientist, Dr. Coe, based the longer and narrower Caraway on the Keyauwee Town 1936 excavation in North Carolina. Both the long slender Serrated Western Fort Ancient and slightly shorter slender Caraway projectiles are considered rare in Appalachia. Another very similar small, slender long triangle of Piedmont Plateau Late Woodland called the Uwharrie projectile point type also follows the larger elongated Yadkin and early large Levanna.

The similar point, local southwest Altizer and some Feurt variants with hints of "ears" (Hamilton-like), also appear in central Ohio Valley and dates CE 1400 (Carmean 2009). These rare finds with edges flaring to the base, along the Blue Ridge border areas, also generally have concave bases or somewhat straight base not, as more often found, as dart points, for example the Hamilton. The casual collector in the state can find the small acute isosceles triangle point with a concave base made of varying flint and chert. The small Clements isosceles triangle point having either straight or concave base is very similar in Virginia and North Carolina. The southern surface collector's small late protohistoric Hillsboro resembles the earlier WV small levanna, spanning dates of 1200 to 1700 CE. A slightly larger triangle-like point, with no ears nor flaring leading edges to the base, precedes the isosceles triangle Hillsboro and is called the Clarksville. Those of small acute isosceles triangle, having either straight or concave base, made of Kanawha Black flint and Hughes River flint are commonly found at Late Prehistoric villages in West Virginia and south western Virginia. It is often simply called "a small Levanna" (WVAS).

Levanna and Yadkin points are made using antler percussion flaking (bifacial), rather than cruder flintknapping, and finalized with a pressure flaking technique. The latter technique is also used to resharpen earlier points, as some Madison types have been found. Both antler and bone lithic making tools are also commonly found among prehistoric West Virginia sites.

Using a similar flaking technique, the lighter Caraway Triangular point dominates at the time when the incised rattlesnake gorgets influence from northwest Tennessee and southwest Virginia are found in several burials at site 31SK15. Some Citico rattlesnake gorgets are also found late in the Clover Phase in West Virginia. Excavations at Site 31SK15 by Coastal Carolina Research, Inc. (page 14) indicate, "New ceramic styles may reflect interaction with the chiefdoms of the Catawba, Pee Dee, or Wateree drainages to the south (Eastman 1996)." It is suggested the term Yadkin be used for south of the James River and the term Levanna used north of the James River valley.

Hamilton arrowheads range from the south Allegheny Mountains and the south Appalachian Mountains to Florida. The concave base Hamilton with dates spanning 1600-1000 BP is also called Uwharrie in its central region. Along the upper Ohio Valley, a similar type to Hamilton has a subtle concave side with small Ears at the concave base, and apparently comes from the north Hocking River's Coshocton flint as surface finds, and the type occasionally seen at certain Feurt villages (Murphy 33Ms-2 abstract 1968:4, p. 1–14). A similarly described as Kelli Carmean writes in 2009, "Sharp (1988:195) has described basal projections, or "ears," a variation also present on some Broaddus specimens...In northeastern Kentucky, Type 2 points are diagnostic of the Early Fort Ancient (1000-1200 CE); elsewhere this type lasts longer, and marks Early and early Middle Fort Ancient (1000-1300 CE) times." A similar shape is found along the Guyandotte River area locally called an Altizer having no clear dates. These are varying triangle examples found on the surface.

Madison has a more of a straight base and is dated 1100-200 BP. Originally named Mississippi Triangular Point in 1951, Edward G. Scully renamed it to the Madison point after further advanced research. Varying by time and region, Railey types 1 through 6 are trans-regional. Madison Railey types 4,5,and 6 appear with the semi-sedentary early fur trade hunters through the Ohio Valley. Later numbered types begin arriving in the state during the 16th century. These small triangles indicate in West Virginia the transitioning of Late Fort Ancient. Seasonal hunters' camps and seasonal towns quickly replace the sedentary farm culture period. Madison arrowheads range all over the Mississippi drainage and Gulf Coast through to along most of the Atlantic Coast. Both point types, elongated and the somewhat equal distant triangles of both dark flint and chert, are found on the surface across the state. The small Kanawha Black Flint Lavenna is predominate in central and northeast of the state.

Read more about this topic:  Prehistory Of West Virginia

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