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TINY ARROWHEADS: TOYS IN THE TOOLKIT

Bob Dawe
Plains Anthropologist
Vol. 42, No. 161 (August 1997), pp. 303-318
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25669485
Page Count: 16
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TINY ARROWHEADS: TOYS IN THE TOOLKIT
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Abstract

A review of Plains ethnographies indicates that children were invariably supplied with small-scale bows and arrows to practice archery skills at an early age. If small arrowheads tipped these toys, toy arrowheads should appear in the archaeological record. An examination of Late Prehistoric projectile points from the processing area at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in southwestern Alberta, Canada, was undertaken to determine whether toys could be distinguished in this assemblage. This paper argues that numerous tiny, poorly made arrowheads from this site could not function as adult weapons and are better explained as toys. The comparative workmanship and neck widths of projectile points are evaluated as indices useful to distinguish toys from adult weapons. The results of this study may have important ramifications beyond Head-Smashed-In. The occurrence of toys in an assemblage may affect considerations of social organization and site function at Plains sites. Also, the inappropriate classification of toys may hamper interpretations of culture history based on point typology.

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