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Modeling the Deformation of Bone Points: Archaeological and Experimental Data

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Bone and horn tools are a highly informative category of artifacts. Variously sized and shaped projectile (spear, harpoon, arrow, and dart) points spanning the periods from the Paleolithic to the recent centuries are of special importance. In this article, we review the most noteworthy directions in Western (European and North American) experimental research done in the 20th and early 21st century, outline the results of our own experiments in using bone points, and discuss parallels among Siberian and Eastern European prehistoric cultures. In our experiments with an archery bow, special attention was paid to fastening the arrowhead to the shaft and to properties of the material (bone and horn). Most experimenters believe that deformation of bone points is a reliable indicator of their artifi cial nature and of the ways they were used in hunting (projectile versus skin dressing), warfare, or ritual activities. The latter include symbolic shooting at rock drawings before hunting and at landscape features such as crevices and trees, as exemplified by a ritual practiced by Californian Native Americans.

About the Authors

A. P. Borodovsky
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
Russian Federation

A. V. Tabarev
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
Russian Federation


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For citation:

Borodovsky A.P., Tabarev A.V. Modeling the Deformation of Bone Points: Archaeological and Experimental Data. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2016;44(3):87-92.

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