Time Trails: Peoples of the Antelope Valley & Southern California

Arrowheads: What's the Difference?

Can you believe it? The shape of an arrowhead (scientists call them projectile points because not all of them were used on arrows) and what it is made of give many clues about how people lived thousands of years ago.

The place where you find an arrowhead and the rocks and dirt around it are also very important. They tell us how long ago the arrowhead was made and used. It’s a good idea to leave arrowheads and other objects made by ancient peoples where you find them. Contact a teacher or the museum so they can be studied more carefully.

Clovis point
13,000 to 10,000 years ago
Big animals like mammoths and camels.
Clovis Point

The Clovis point is like a spear head—some of these points are 8 inches long and made of a glassy rock called obsidian that is very sharp. It is the oldest type of point found in the United States. Humans using these deadly weapons may have played a role in the extinction of large mammals such as the mammoth, giant ground sloth, and camel in North America.

Lake Mojave point
10,000 to 8,000 years ago
Small, fast species like antelope and rabbits.
Lake Mojave Points

Mojave points were used with the atlatl, a device Native Americans used to throw a spear with extra force.

Pinto point
10,000 to 6,000 years ago
Small mammals and ducks.
Pinto Points

Pinto points are often made from rocks imported from other locations. This tells us people traded valuable rocks for food and other valuables such as shells and skins.

Elko point
4,000 to 1,500 years ago
Small mammals and ducks.
Elko Points

Elko points have the classic arrowhead shape. They were used with spears and darts

Rose Springs point
1,500 to 900 years ago
Deer and small mammals.

Rose Spring point

Rose Springs points are the first actual arrowheads in this group. Bow and arrow technology was adapted by the Native Americans in the Mojave desert around 1,500 years ago.

Cottonwood and Desert Side Notched points
900 to 150 years ago
Cottonwood and Side  Notched points

These two styles of projectile point were used in the Great Basin and the Antelope Valley into the nineteenth century.


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