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.
I am double posting this from my professional blog because I think it is really remarkable. A cave find from southeast New Mexico.
From time to time, we receive donations from private individuals. After a few phone calls back and forth, I arranged to meet with someone who wanted to show me a dart she had found in a cave when she was young. We have agreed to accept this remarkable find and intend to display it in the near future. The preservation is beautiful, although it has apparently been handled over many years. There was apparently a spear-thrower (atlatl) found with the dart but it was unfortunately lost in a house fire.
Click the image for a larger version
The foreshaft/point is hardwood and fits into a socket. the hind shaft is split in order to contract when seized with sinew (still attached. The barb is lashed on with more sinew. I will put more description and better photos when I get time.