Native American Artifacts Arrowheads

Native american artifacts arrowheads

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4-H 365.23
Native American
Artifacts: Arrowheads
By Paul Hothem, retired 4-H educator and arrowhead enthusiast
Reviewed by Bradley T. Lepper, Curator of Archaeology,
Archaeology/Natural History Unit Manager, Ohio Historical Society
Arrowheads can be as much as 14,000 years old, and when someone today
finds one, it’s likely that he or she is the first person since the original
maker to touch it! Holding your first arrowhead can be the beginning of an
exciting, lifelong hobby of collecting and learning about a common Native
American tool

Actually, the term arrowhead is misleading. piece was reduced by a blow to the edge with
Many of these pointed flint tools were never a piece of hard stone. This is called percussion
used on spears, arrows, or atlatls (a type chipping and was repeated until the piece was
of spear thrower, pronounced ät'-lä-təl). properly thinned and shaped. The piece was
Depending on their size and thickness, most then pressure chipped using a sharpened deer
flint tools were used as hand-held or hafted or elk antler to finely chip the edge until sharp

blades (blades fitted with a handle), scrapers,
Fitting the arrowhead with a handle, or
or knives. Use of the word arrowhead is
commonplace though, so we’ll use it here too. hafting, was the next step. The arrowhead was
fastened to a spear shaft, an atlatl shaft, an
Making and Fitting an Arrowhead arrow, or a knife handle. The shaft was usually
Native Americans made arrowheads using a split and the arrowhead was inserted. Then the
chipping process called knapping. After the end was wrapped tightly with animal tendon
flint was removed from the quarry, the large called sinew

Plan Your Project
Use this idea starter AND publication 4-H 365 Self-Determined Project Guide as the starting place for
your 4-H self-determined project. The Self-Determined Project Guide is available from your county
OSU Extension office or on the web at You may choose to do a
little or a lot depending on your level of interest. Be sure to register your project with your county
OSU Extension office

Marking is done with a fine-tip black marking pen on
all pieces but dark flint. Use a pen with white ink on
dark pieces. The number is all you need to put on the
piece, but location is sometimes included. The photo
below shows two examples. The piece on the left shows
the county (Franklin) where it was found. The piece on
the right shows the owner’s code (HP) with the piece’s
number (865) and the location (Seneca Co.)

Arrowhead Hunting
Where should you choose to search for arrowheads on
a farm? Put yourself in the shoes of a Native American
living off the land and in need a reliable water source

Try to choose a field with a stream or flowing spring

Water was needed for survival and attracted animals to

You must obtain permission to hunt for arrowheads
on a farmer’s land. Once it is given, visit the fields after
they have been tilled and after at least half an inch of
rain has fallen. The rain washes the dirt off the flint
making it easier to find

Cultures and Time Periods
As you hunt for arrowheads, you may find areas that The lifestyles and tools of Native Americans evolved
have much more flint than elsewhere. This is called a over 8,000 to 10,000 years. Archeological evidence
worksite. You might not find many finished tools there, tells us how they might have lived and what tools they
but the animal hunting areas would be nearby. Here is needed for survival

where most arrowheads are found

Early Paleoindian cultures—14,000–10,500 B.P. (Before
Don’t give up if you do not find anything on your Present)
first hunt. Continue to look after each new tilling and These people, who were of Asian descent, crossed the
planting. Cornfields can be walked until the plants land bridge into the Alaska-Canada area of North
are knee high, as long as it is all right with the farmer. America. They moved in small family groups some-
Don’t walk on soybean fields after planting. times following animal herds to obtain meat for food
After you have found an arrowhead, take it home and hides for clothing. They are best known for their
and wash it with cold water, dish soap, and an old fluted points, which are fluted on one or both sides

toothbrush. Clean gently until the dirt is off. Don’t Late Paleoindian Plano culture—10,500–9,000 B.P

scrub! Scrubbing removes the old patina and reduces its Plano were the descendants of the early Paleoindians
value. Patina is a film that appears gradually on some and lived a less nomadic lifestyle. Their arrowheads
surfaces when exposed to oxygen. For safe-keeping, changed slightly from the Paleoindian, most notably
place your finds in an inexpensive tray with a glass top. on the bases, which were no longer fluted

Cataloging Archaic—9,000–4,500 B.P

These cultures lived more settled lifestyles with bigger
Like other collectors, you may find it useful to keep a
populations in villages and made many different types
record, or catalog, of your items. Here is one way to list
of arrowheads. They were the first cultures to make
your finds:
stone tools such as axes, celts, adzes, and gouges

Number Type Finder Location Length
Woodland—3,000–1,400 B.P

01 Adena J. Doe Knox Co., Ohio 2½”
This culture includes the Adena and Hopewell cultures
Include as much detail as possible when listing the and was the first to make pottery. They are noted for
location, such as, “NE part of John Smith’s field.” their mounds, enclosures, and several other types of
Adding latitude and longitude coordinates from a GPS earthen works. Each group made mainly one type of
device is ideal. arrowhead with very few variations

Fort Ancient—1,000–500 B.P. thrower’s arm moved back and then forward. When
These people lived in large communities and raised the atlatl reached about the halfway point the arrow
crops like corn, pumpkins, and squash. They hunted sprang off the hook and flew through the air. This
animals with bows and arrows, so their arrowheads weapon could be accurate up to 100 yards

were actually used as tips for arrows. All of their flint
Bow and Arrow
tools were triangle shaped

You are probably familiar with the working of this
Historic weapon. It was more accurate and could be used at
400 B.P.—Native peoples in the Ohio Valley were longer distances. They were also easier to carry and use
ravaged by European-introduced diseases. Iroquois than other weapons. Best evidence suggests that bows
tribes drove out survivors and claimed the region as and arrows were introduced during the Late Woodland
their territory. period—1,400 years ago

300 B.P.—Many Native American groups moved in All of these weapons were phased out as traders and
from other areas. Some flint was still used, but as the settlers entered the New World

settlers moved in, the groups traded for guns and
ammunition. Flint Types
The five most commonly used flint types in Ohio are
Weapons for Hunting Game Flint Ridge, Coshocton, Nellie Chert, Zaleski, and
Spear Indiana Hornstone. Others include Delaware Chert,
The first weapon was the spear. Early people probably Logan County Chert, Carter Cave, Pipe Creek Chert,
found a straight sapling or limb; removed the bark, Sonora, and many more

twigs, knots, etc.; then placed a spear point (large
Flint Ridge
arrowhead) on the end. This weapon was thrown,
This flint is the best known flint in North America
usually when hunters were very close to their prey. This
and compares to the best in the world. Flint Ridge is
was very dangerous

located just outside of Newark, Ohio. The finest Flint
Atlatl (spear thrower) Ridge flint is called Flint Ridge Chalcedony, and most
The atlatl was a wooden handle about two feet long. At cultures used this type. Flint Ridge flint is Ohio’s
the back end a bone hook was attached. The wooden official gemstone!
handle was used to throw darts (spears) with much
more force than a spear used alone, which was in use
This flint is found in Coshocton County, Ohio, near
prior to the atlatl by cultures outside North America

Warsaw. Its colors are commonly black or gray. Some
The first Americans arrived with atlatls

blacks have streaks of white quartz running through
The dart (an oversized arrow) was five or six feet long them, which resemble lightning bolts. Most Coshocton
with the back end hollowed out to fit the bone hook on gray flint appears waxy with darker or lighter
the atlatl. striations

The dart was held with the thumb and first finger. Nellie Chert
The other fingers held the atlatl. At the end of the Nellie Chert is also from Coshocton County near the
spear was a small insert with the arrowhead attached. small town of Nellie. It is dull gray in color. Most cul-
This allowed the thrower to reload a new insert. The tures used it but the Paleoindians particularly liked it

Point Insert Dart or shaft
This flint is found in Vinton County,
Ohio. It is a beautiful, glossy black
material. Zaleski may be the finest
black flint in the United States

Handle of atlatl
or simple atlatl Indiana Hornstone
This flint is from the Indiana–
Kentucky line. It was heavily used in
eastern and central Ohio. It is light
Atlatl (spear thrower)
gray in color with tan and/or yellow
Source: tinges

Arrowhead Types
The 16 arrowheads shown are just a small sample of the dozens made by Early Man. They are identified by culture,
arrowhead name, and flint type

Identification Table
Top row #1 #2 #3 #4
Culture Paleoindian Paleoindian Paleoindian Paleoindian
Arrowhead name Fluted Plano Plano Stringtown
Flint type Zaleski Zaleski Coshocton Gray Nellie Chert
2nd row #5 #6 #7 #8
Culture Archaic Archaic Archaic Archaic
Arrowhead name Thebes Kirk Corner Notch Side Notch Bifurcate
Flint type Flint Ridge Indiana Hornstone Coshocton Gray Coshocton Black
3rd row #9 #10 #11 #12
Culture Archaic Archaic Archaic Archaic
Arrowhead name Transitional Side notch Dovetail Broad blade
Flint type Coshocton Gray Indiana Hornstone Flint Ridge Flint Ridge
4th row #13 #14 #15 #16
Culture Early Woodland Middle Woodland Late Woodland Fort Ancient
Arrowhead name Adena Hopewell Intrusive Mound Fort Ancient
Flint type Flint Ridge Flint Ridge Coshocton Gray Indiana Hornstone
Photo credit: Ohio Flint Types by Robert Converse
Areas of Interest and Things to Do
Every self-determined 4-H project can be broken down into areas of interest. These are the specific
things members want to address during their project adventures. Using 4-H 365 Self-Determined
Project Guide, identify at least three areas of interest with at least three activities per area to explore

Take your ideas from the list below or make up your own

Learning about Native American ☐☐ Look into how arrowheads ☐☐ Make a timeline of inhabitants
History and Culture benefited the Native in North America and Ohio
☐☐ Find pictures of various atlatls American lifestyle, and if they from 14,000 years ago to the
and find out how darts can be used other methods to feed 1600s for your project display

thrown using them, then report their tribes. Include details about how they
on your findings to your club. ☐☐ Find out if there are any provided food for themselves
☐☐ Research the Native American tribes still using arrowheads and the tools they used in
cultures that lived in Ohio and the today and share your research daily life, and when tribes
types of arrowheads they used. with your project helper. entered Ohio

Exploring Types of Flint Tools ☐☐ See if you can view the ☐☐ Make a display of your finds

☐☐ Go online or to the library to collection of an experienced Be sure your collection is in a
discover the wide variety of collector. Share your experience protected space such as a wood
arrowhead shapes that were with your project helper. and glass display box

made. Share pictures of what ☐☐ Go to the Ohio Historical ☐☐ Check online or a library book
you found as you explain Society or a similar for other arrowheads you
the differences to your club organization to gain would like to find. See if you
members. perspective on Native and your family can make a
☐☐ Learn the purposes of different American life in Ohio. trip to a new location to look
types of flint tools and how ☐☐ With safety glasses on, use a for arrowheads different from
they were used. rock or a hammer to strike the the ones you have found

☐☐ Find pictures of different types edge of a large piece of flint Extend Your Knowledge
of Ohio flint and where they and practice chipping small
☐☐ Plan to attend an event where
are found in the state. pieces off. Make sure to do this
a flint knapper is working and
☐☐ Determine the type of points in an area that is ventilated, or
watch the process

you have found. If they are work on this outside. Ask your
project helper to help you with ☐☐ Give a demonstration at a club
not listed in this project, use
this. meeting about what you have
the Resources listed at the
learned so far

bottom of this page for more ☐☐ Go online and compare how
information. arrowheads from a different ☐☐ Research flint and how it was
region of the country differ formed. Write a report. Share
☐☐ Research the most likely time
from those found in Ohio. it with your project helper and
period for arrowheads to be your science teacher

used in Ohio

Cataloging Your Collection ☐☐ Invite a friend or 4-H member
Field Work ☐☐ Label your arrowheads as to go arrowhead hunting with
☐☐ Determine the best place described in this idea starter. you and share what you have
to find arrowheads in your ☐☐ Keep a record of your learned

area. Always be sure to ask arrowheads in a notebook. ☐☐ Find a hobbyist who polishes
property owners in that area (See the example in this idea flint and ask if he or she will
for permission to look for starter.) Show your project polish some of your unworked
arrowheads on their land. helper the system you created. flint

☐☐ Make a map of the fields you
hunted and mark your finds Resources
on it

Archaeological Society of Ohio (

☐☐ Contact the Archaeological
Ohio Flint Types by Robert Converse

Society of Ohio (www or 800-736-7815) “What’s the Point?” Identifying Flint Artifacts (

to find the chapter nearest to Ohio Historical Society, “Virtual First Ohioans” (http://ohsweb.ohiohistory

you, and attend a meeting. org/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=25)
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programs are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin,
sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or veteran status. This statement is in accordance with United States
Civil Rights Laws and the USDA

Keith L. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Director, Ohio State University Extension
TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868
Copyright © 2011, The Ohio State University

Exciting, lifelong hobby of collecting and learning about a common Native American tool. Plan Your Project. Use this idea starter AND publication 4-H 365 . Self-Determined Project Guide. …

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are indian artifacts worth money?

While most Indian arrowheads are worth very little - around twenty dollars - some types of arrowheads are worth thousands of dollars or much more. Arrowheads are worth more if they are very ancient or made out of unusual materials. An arrowhead (or more likely a spearhead) that is 10,000 years old might be worth a fortune.

Where to sell indian arrowheads? is the premier place to sell arrowheads and unwanted Indian artifact collections. With access to the best authenticators in the hobby, we are sure to offer you top dollar for your unwanted artifacts. You want to sell.

How do indians make arrowheads?

Native American Indian arrowheads were made from flint, or hard stones that could flake easily. These hard stones were sharpened into projectile points by a process known as flintknapping. To make useful projectile points like arrowheads or spear tips, the piece of flint was struck with a hammerstone to remove large sharp flakes of flint.

What are some artifacts in india?

  • The Pashupati Seal: this seal depicts what is probably the modern Hindu God, Shiv. Lord Shiv is surrounded by various animals like the rhino, buffalo, the elephant, and the tiger.
  • The Unicorn Seal: This is based on a fictional animal that the Indus Valley Civilization people had conjured up. It is an example of early fictional art.
  • The Bull Seal: The Bull seal, shows a humped bull displaying a strong and energetic bull. ...