By Elizabeth Paynter – Lab Director
One common point type found in our region is the Piscataway Point. This type of point can be found from Virginia to New Jersey. Projectile points types are defined by certain physical characteristics.
The base is the most important area of a point. This is the hafting area (aka hafting element) where a point or blade was attached to a handle or shaft on items such as darts, spears, arrows, and knives. Without the base of a point it is difficult to impossible to determine what the point type is, and, therefore almost impossible to determine the date when the tool was made. See “Let’s Get to the Point about Typologies”. As you can see from the picture, the base of a Piscataway is rounded or pointed, small and contracts. Weak almost nonexistent shoulders separate the base from the blade.
Piscataway points are similar to, but smaller and narrower than the Rossville point. Overall Piscataway points are somewhat small with a total length of approximately 29 to 49 mm and a width of 10 to 21 mm. The blade is usually long, narrow and triangular in shape. The blade edges are most often straight or slightly convex and occasionally beveled. The cross section of the blade is lenticular and thick.
Piscataway points in our area are often of quartz or quartzite although the points have been found made of a variety of other stone.
There is some debate on the time period in which this type of point can be found. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has stated the dates for the Piscataway Point as 1000 to 500 BCE during the Early Woodland. CART currently uses this date range for the point; however, there is evidence that the point has been found in the earlier Late Archaic contexts.
Note: As always, if you find this point or any artifact on park or government land, it is illegal to move or disturb it. Instead note the exact location and contact your local archaeologists through the county or the state department of historic resources. If you are on private land and have permission to collect, remember that disturbing any site can result in the loss of important information about the past. Recording as much detailed information with minimal disturbance about the location of artifacts and their relation to each other in physical space both horizontally and vertically is a part of combatting this loss.
MAC Lab. 2012. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab (MAAC Lab). Originally Published 2002. Electronic. http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/index.htm accessed September 14, 2016
VDHR Collections. Native American Comparative Collections. Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Electronic. http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/arch_DHR/archaeo_lpc.htm accessed September 14, 2016