Projectile Points:Triangle -part I

by Robin RameyCART Assistant Lab Director

As the name suggests, triangle projectile points are characterized by their, well, triangular shape. Unlike the point types discussed in previous posts (see Another Local Projectile Point: Morrow Mountain, Projectile Points- Contracting Stems, and Projectile Points- Notched), triangle points lack stems and do not display side or corner notches. Researchers, therefore, use other morphological characteristics such as size, overall shape, base shape, and blade curvature to categorize triangle points into types. In addition to morphology, other characteristics such as material type and the presence or absence of basal grinding can help in the identification of triangle point types.


Projectile point length and width are two metric characteristics that help distinguish triangle point types. Length is measured from the base to the tip of the point. Width is measured perpendicular to the length. So, in the case of triangle points, width is measured from one corner of the base to the other. Small triangle points, such as the Clarksville type, can have lengths and widths as small as 10-18cm (DHR n.d.). Larger types, such as Levanna and Yadkin points have average lengths of 38-45mm and average widths of around 30mm (DHR n.d.; MAC Lab 2012).


Triangular points are generally categorized as either equilateral or isosceles. Equilateral triangle points have a base width that is approximately equal to the length of the edges. Isosceles triangle points have a base width that is smaller than the length of the edges.

Base shape

Triangle point bases fall into two main categories: straight and concave. Straight bases, as the term implies, are relatively straight from corner to corner, curving neither in toward the tip nor out. Concave bases, conversely, curve in toward the tip of the point.

Blade Curvature

The blade, or edges, of triangle points occur in straight, excurvate, and incurvate varieties. Straight blades are relatively straight from the tip of the point to the corner of the base. Excurvate edges curve away from the point’s center line as you move from tip to corner. Oppositely, incurvate edges curve towards the point’s center line as you move from tip to corner.

For information about types of triangle points found in our area and a discussion about the time period in which triangle points were made stay tuned to our blog.



Department of Historic Resources.
n.d.       Native American Comparative Collections: Points., accessed 12/14/2017.

Katz, Gregory M.
2000       Archaic Period Triangular Bifaces in the Middle Atlantic Region: Technological and Functional Considerations. M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, Temple University, Philadelphia.

Luckenbach, Al, Jessie Grow, and Shawn Sharpe
2010       Archaic Period Triangular Points from Pig Point, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 26:165-180.

Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory
2012       [2002] Projectile Points: Archaic Triangular Points. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland., accessed 12/04/17.


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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1 Response to Projectile Points:Triangle -part I

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

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