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The Adoption of the Bow and Arrow in Eastern North America: A View from Central Arkansas

Michael S. Nassaney and Kendra Pyle
American Antiquity
Vol. 64, No. 2 (Apr., 1999), pp. 243-263
DOI: 10.2307/2694277
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2694277
Page Count: 21
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The Adoption of the Bow and Arrow in Eastern North America: A View from Central Arkansas
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Abstract

North American archaeologists have long been interested in distinguishing between dart and arrow points in order to establish when bow-and-arrow technology was adopted in the Eastern Woodlands. A quantitative analysis of point form and qualitative reconstructions of bifacial reduction trajectories from Plum Bayou culture sites in central Arkansas indicate that arrow points were abruptly adopted and became widespread about A.D. 600. Moreover, arrow points are metrically discrete entities that were not developed through gradual modification of dart points in this region as appears to be the case elsewhere. Comparisons with patterns observed in other regions of the East show significant variation in the timing, rate, and direction of the adoption of the bow and arrow, as well as the role of this technological change in Native American economies and sociopolitics. These observations suggest that the bow and arrow were: (1) introduced significantly earlier than some researchers have posited; (2) independently invented by some groups and diffused to others; and (3) relinquished and later readopted in some areas of the Eastern Woodlands in response to changing social, historical, and environmental conditions. Our data also call into question simple unilinear or diffusionary models that claim to explain the development and spread of this technological innovation.

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