Arrowheads have played an important role in the survival of the human species. In the years before civilization, and all its associated ills arrows put food on the table and kept away marauding animals and people. Not only did arrows ensure the survival of families and tribes, but arrows also made nations into empires. It is, therefore, reasonable to say that arrows were as important then as automatic riffles are today. In this article, we want to focus on Texas and the types of arrows that were left there by generations gone by.
The Apache and Comanche tribes (or nations) are the most well-known Native American tribes that inhabited Texas, but dozens of other tribes lived all over the region at different times, sometimes simultaneously, until the mid-1800s. They left behind thousands of arrowheads, which can still be found with a little effort, and which give priceless insights into the lives and times of our predecessors in what is now Texas. You can find these arrowheads in Dry creek beds, riverbanks, and freshly plowed planting fields in rural areas. Heavy rains can dislodge formerly buried arrowheads, so the odds of success can greatly improve after a big downpour. Let us examine some of them.
Texas arrowheads are a fascinating part of the state’s history. Found across the Lone Star State, they can be thousands of years old and offer insight into the lives of ancient cultures that once inhabited the land.
These artifacts tell stories of how people lived, what tools they used, and how their societies were organized. Arrowheads vary in shape and size depending on their use. These artifacts served as hunting tools for local tribes, such as the Apache, Comanche, and Coahuiltecans. Archaeologists have found arrowheads made out of stone, animal bone, and antler horns that date back centuries.
The discovery of Texas arrowheads is an exciting prospect for any collector or archaeologist alike. The artifacts can provide a glimpse into the past while giving an amazing connection to our ancestors who lived here before us.
Types of Arrowheads in Texas (By Shape)
Arrowheads found in Texas vary greatly depending on the region and period of history. In general, arrowheads from Texas can be divided into four main types: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, and Historic.
Paleo-Indian arrowheads are the oldest type and date back to around 12,000 years ago. They are usually made from flint or chert and have a lanceolate shape with a sharp point. These arrowheads were used by hunters to hunt large animals such as mammoths and mastodons.
Archaic arrowheads date back to around 8,000 years ago and are typically made of limestone or sandstone. They have a wide variety of shapes including triangular, stemmed, notched, and lanceolate. These arrowheads were used for hunting smaller games such as deer and bison.
This type of arrowhead is roughly shaped like small fish. There is a sharp point that gradually extends evenly on two sides and then widens rapidly before contrasting again to make a dent. Apparently, the whole arrowhead was designed to pierce the flesh of the victim and then stick to it in a manner that made pulling it out especially painful, and quite frequently lethal. Many of these arrowheads that have been found were made of cut stone.
These types of arrowheads are basically identified by the notches at the bottom. They are mostly shaped as regular triangles with the notches in the bottom likely serving to hold the arrowheads fast to the arrows. They can vary in color but are mostly made of stone.
This is another interesting piece of ancient craftsmanship. The arrowheads are basically triangular-shaped, with long projecting stems that gradually contract, or reduce downwards, giving the effect of another triangle on the opposite end. As a matter of fact, some arrow-head enthusiasts have described this as two triangled arrowheads; one large triangle on top, and a smaller triangle at the base.
This type of arrowhead is simple triangles at the top, but has notches on the bottom corners, to differentiate between them and other types of arrowheads. They are quite similar in appearance to the articulate type of arrowheads.
This is a more direct type of arrowhead; there is little effort to make an elaborate item that will become an interesting artifact for future generations to wow over. This type of arrowhead is thin, long, and has no dents or notches of any kind. They do not even have any depressions with which to fasten the arrowheads to their arrows.
The leaf type of arrowheads is wide in middle, but quite narrow at both the top and bottom ends. Due to its shape, one can expect that it would require some extra force to get the arrow to pierce the flesh of the victim or target such that sticks to the body.
Side notched arrow-heads are a type of arrowhead that start like they would be triangular in shape but have dents or notches at the sides, thus making them resemble two equal triangles with the notches joining them.
These types of arrowheads are unique because they are the opposite of what we have seen so far. Usually, the bottom base of arrowheads contract or reduce in size as they progress downward, but in this case, the arrowheads actually expand downwards.
Stemmed type of arrowheads are arrowheads that basically look like Christmas trees. There is a tip, which progresses into a kind of elongated triangle, and which then ends with a straight trunk. There are no notches, and the arrowheads just fast to the arrows at the trunk.
This type of arrow-heads is quite simple in design. It is basically just a triangle with a sharp point. There are no notches, grooves, or any other designs.
No doubt in the times past, arrowheads offered clues as to the tribes that attacked or invaded other tribes. It seems reasonable to say that native Americans could identify each other by the shapes of arrowheads they had in their possession at the time.
That is all about the types of arrowheads you can find in Texas. But if you are a new enthusiast of arrowheads then there a few things that you should know that will help you as you begin to unearth these wonderful pieces of our history.
What will you need to properly identify arrowheads?
You will need a magnifying glass to spot notches, concave areas, or other distinguishing characteristics. of individual types of arrowheads. The various notches, grooves, indentations, and protrusions offer clues about the surprising techniques which were developed by Native Americans to fabricate the arrowheads.
Take special note of the color and texture of the stone with which the arrowhead is made. Most Texas arrowheads are made from flint, which is a type of stone that can vary in color from dark brown to gray. Some are even partly transparent.
You will need life-sized photos of the various types of arrowheads that you can find in Texas so that you can compare them against the particular arrowheads that you have found. If the photos or diagrams are the property of a school or college then you can ask for a copy or take pictures of your own arrowheads, or even take your actual arrowheads there for analysis. When taking photos of your arrowheads take multiple close-up photos against a contrasting background -that is a background of a different or opposing color.
Please take note that It is illegal to collect arrowheads on public lands, including Texas state parks and national parks. If you chance upon arrowheads on private land, Landowner permission is required to collect them there because arrowheads are considered archaeological pieces of value.
And now for some interesting trivia:
Who were the first people to develop the bow and arrow? was it the –native Americans of Texas? Let’s find out below.
The History and Development of Archery
Paleontologists generally agree that the invention of bows and arrows in the Paleolithic period, which is about 71,000 years ago. This data is based on archaeological evidence of arrowheads and cave paintings. They show that prehistoric men used bows and arrows to hunt. Originally, bows and arrows were tools developed in hunter-gatherer societies for the provision of food. But arrowheads assumed importance in another way thousands of years later when men began to fight among themselves for resources or for tribal superiority, eventually utilizing these tools as weapons of war. The invention of the bow and arrow added the element of surprise to hunting. Whereas other weapons, like spears or blades, could be very lethal, the bow and arrow allowed prehistoric hunters to kill prey from a distance, sometimes without even arousing the prey.
So as you can see, the Native Americans are down an ancient timeline of users of the bow and arrow, their arrow-heads give us a hint into a much deeper time tunnel, stretching far into prehistoric periods.