Antler Points

I am very interested in the European Upper Paleolithic.  There are many amazing artifacts of antler and bone known from good archaeological contexts.  Having lugged a load of antler and bones around over the last several years, it seemed to be time to make some new goodies.  I went through a phase 15-20 years ago cutting and shaping using only purely traditional means, so I know it can be a long, slow process.  For these tools I used steel saws, files, and sandpaper to speed up the process but even with these conveniences there are many hours in these points.

I’ve always liked the look of these points and it seems clear to me why these were effective weapons used from 25,000-30,000 years ago across Eurasia to almost present day in parts of the Arctic.  However, until I made a few, I didn’t really appreciate how deadly and functional these points are.  As each barb is carved and sharpened, there becomes nowhere to hold the point safely while working without wrapping it in buckskin.    Not just a thrusting weapon, harpoon, or spear; I can imaging thrusting this into a rodent or badger den, using the barbs to pull out a good meal.

The plastic nature of antler will give these tools long life and resistance to breakage and can be re-sharpened many times.

The scraps are becoming arrow points like the one above.  Some will be made to modern legal specifications so that they may be used for hunting in the coming seasons.




17 thoughts on “Antler Points

  1. Awesome!
    I assume you carve these by hand?
    When using mechanical power the smell is driving me to the point of getting nautious, unless I do it in the open air with a breeze blowing in fresh air…

  2. I’ve pretty much stopped using the word “primitive” about any of this stuff. It is all a product of the human genius to create with skill. There is a skill in choosing the correct materials and crafting them to follow a desired form and function. There is a skill in usage that allows the users to interact with their environment to a desired end. When I am fabricating at my institution, I’ve learned to resist the urge to “improve” any of the 19th c. technology. When it comes to materials, form, function and usage, what they had is nearly perfect.

  3. Hope so! Any chance you’ll be at Rabbitstick or Saskatoon Circle up North? Otherwise, think that I’ll still be wandering South for WC and/or Buckeye.

  4. This would be the year to go, the 25th is going to be a big one! And know what you mean about the gatherings, that’s why the cloning/multi dimensional travel program is underway…..

  5. These are beautiful works. Did you use a particular sort of antler -like broad flat pieces?. I’d like to try some of my own but worry that the porous inner tissues on rounder cuts won’t finish as nicely as what you’ve shown here. Any tips would be appreciated.

  6. Thanks. Did your cuts come from near the base or tips? Did you straighten them at all? I’m having trouble getting straight think antler to use.

    1. I think one was closer to the base and the other two up closer to the tips. I would love to make more except for the lack of straight sections. I haven’t tried to straighten any yet but would love to.

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