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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 13 (2) 2015

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J. Bradfield

Identifying Bone-Tipped Arrow Types in the Archaeological Record of Southern Africa: The Contribution of Use-Trace Studies

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 13 (2), 2015, pages 135-147, DOI 10.3213/2191-5784-10278

Abstract


This study presents a historical review of the different types of southern African hunter-gatherer arrows employing a piece of bone situated at or near the tip of the arrow, which I call the apical bone component. The results of an extensive use-trace study of bone points and fragments thereof from twelve archaeological sites spanning the last 18,000 years show that it is possible to identify arrow types based on associated use-trace features. Five possible arrow types are identified from the archaeological sample, all dating to within the last 4000–6000 years. Using use-trace studies it is possible to identify now-missing components of the arrows, such as metal, mastic or stone inserts. Contrary to recent claims, I do not find evidence for bone-tipped arrows evolving along a continuum. Rather, some arrow types may have a much greater antiquity than previously thought.  


Résumé

Cette étude présente une synthèse, pour les périodes historiques, des différents types de flèches utilisés par les groupes de chasseurs-cueilleurs d'Afrique australe ayant recours à une pièce en os située à l'extrémité de la flèche ou proche de celle-ci, et que nous appelons l'élément osseux apéxien. Les résultats de l'analyse tracéologique approfondie de pointes en os et de fragments de pointes provenant de douze sites archéologiques couvrant les derniers 18 000 ans démontrent qu'il est possible de distinguer différents types de flèches à partir des traces d'usures associées. Cinq catégories de flèches, datant toutes des derniers quatre à six millénaires, ont ainsi pu être identifiées dans l'échantillon archéologique. L'approche tracéologique permet de reconnaître les composantes aujourd'hui manquantes des flèches, telles que parties métalliques, mastic ou éléments en pierre. Contrairement à ce qui a été récemment avancé par certains auteurs, notre étude ne met en évidence aucun élément permettant de soutenir la thèse d'une évolution progressive et continue dans la conception des flèches en os. En revanche, il semble que certains types de flèches soient apparus beaucoup plus précocement que ce qui était considéré jusqu'à présent.



Keywords: bone technology, bone-tipped arrow identification, South Africa and Lesotho Stone Age sequence, Use-traces


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Sonja Magnavita, Peter Breunig, Sam Nixon

Book Reviews Editor:
Jonathan R. Walz, USA

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Graham Connah, Australia
Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
A. Catherine D'Andrea, Canada
Manfred K.H. Eggert, Germany
Elena Garcea, Italy
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, USA
Timothy Insoll, UK
Tom Huffman, South Africa
Eric Huysecom, Switzerland
David Killick, USA
Savino di Lernia, Italy
Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Belgium
Scott MacEachern, USA
David Mattingly, UK
Susan Keech McIntosh, USA
David W. Phillipson, UK
Gilbert Pwiti, Zimbabwe
Peter Robertshaw, USA
Robert Vernet, France
Lyn Wadley, South Africa

Copy Editors:
Nikolas Gestrich, UK
Gaby Franke, Germany
Annabelle Gallin, France
Richard Byer, Germany

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Anna Rybar, Germany
Carlos Magnavita, Germany


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