Savannah River Projectile Point


by Elizabeth PaynterCART Lab Director

The picture above shows a broken quartzite Savannah River projectile point that is missing its tip. The Savannah River projectile point is a notable and common point type found along much of the east coast. A sample taken of Savannah Rivers from the lower Patuxent drainage reported that 65% of the points sampled were made of quartzite.[1]  The point is large and broad yet relatively thin. While it is difficult to see from the above image, the blade has a triangular shape often with rounded sides. The shoulders can have a right angle, but are sometimes less pronounced and, instead, well rounded. Looking at the base, the stem is typically broad and square with straight sides.

These points are made almost entirely with a technique called percussion flaking. Percussion refers to the method of removal of the excess stone through impact. A common method of percussion flaking involves holding the stone material that is to become the tool in one hand while another object which is used to remove pieces of the stone to shape the point in the other. See Understanding the Basics of Lithic Production.

The point size can range from 43 to 170 mm in length, 22 to 70 mm and a thickness of 7 to 12 mm. With its wide and thing blade, it is easy to imagine that the Savannah River projectile point may have been used as a fishing spearhead.

The point was produced from approximately 3650 BCE to 1200 BCE. The Savannah River projectile point is unique in its style. No point like it was produced before or after its tight timeframe in the Late Archaic.savannahrivertimeline


From our blog post on Piscataway Points


See our blog post on Piscataway Points for information on the anatomy of a projectile point.

[1] MAC Lab. 2012. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab (MAAC Lab). Originally Published 2002. Electronic. accessed October 13, 2016

[2] Justice, Noel D. 1987. Stone Age Spear and Arrow Points of the Midcontinental and Eastern United States, A Modern Survey and Reference. Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, Indiana

[3] VDHR Collections. Native American Comparative Collections. Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Electronic. accessed October 13, 2016


About cartarchaeology

We are the County Archaeological Research Team, part of the Archaeology and Collections Branch, Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority. We are tasked with understanding and managing the cultural resources on Park land throughout Fairfax County.
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