Projectile Points – Notched

By Elizabeth Paynter – CART Lab Director

As mentioned in prior blog posts, the base or stem of the projectile point is necessary for identification of the specific projectile point type. This kind of stone tool is organized into common stem or base shapes in order to aid typological classification.

A side notch is one of the projectile point forms that helps archaeologists to organize and identify projectile points. A notch is a half semi-circular, U, or V shape that has been flaked from the base of a stone tool for the purpose of hafting or attaching the tool, such as a projectile point, to a handle or shaft. A side notch simply means that an area was removed from a projectile point’s lower sides.

In our mid-Atlantic region, the side notch is a technology that was used from Paleolithic times into the Middle Woodland. One example of a point with a side notch is the Halifax point. Halifax points date to the Middle Archaic. The blade is usually long and narrow. The base is typically broad and somewhat straight with side notches that are wide and shallow. Another side notch shaped point is the Brewerton Side Notched. Brewerton Side Notched points date from the Middle Archaic period to the Late Archaic. The blade itself is triangular in shape while the side notch is of a medium size and is well formed.

A corner notch is another major projectile point form. It is similar to a side notch. The difference between a side notch and a corner notch is the location of the removed notch. As the name indicates, a corner notch projectile point has a notch in the corner of a projectile point’s base. Projectile points in our region with corner notches can be found on sites from Early Archaic to Middle Woodland. One such example of a corner notched point is the Palmer point. This early archaic point has a small triangular blade usually with serrated edges. The base is straight and ground and has small corner notches.


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

MAC Lab. 2012. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab (MAAC Lab). Originally Published 2002. Electronic. accessed March 16, 2017

VDHR Collections. Native American Comparative Collections. Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Electronic. accessed March 16, 2017

Further Reading:

The Virginia Timeline – A Virginia Timeline Part I: Before Jamestown
Typologies – Let’s Get to the Point about Typologies
The Making of Stone Tools – Understanding Basics of Lithic Production
The Anatomy of a Projectile Point – Piscataway Points



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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3 Responses to Projectile Points – Notched

  1. I was wondering about this!


  2. Pingback: Projectile Points- Triangle | C.A.R.T. Archaeology

  3. Pingback: The Shape of a Point | C.A.R.T. Archaeology

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