Small Triangular Projectile Points
Small Triangular Projectile Points

Jamestown is located on Paspehegh land, in the region called Tsenacommacah. When the Virginia Company arrived here in 1607, the region — which stretched from the fall line to the Atlantic and from the James River (then the Powhatan) to the Potomac — was led by Wahunsenacawh (Chief Powhatan). At that time, the Powhatan paramount chiefdom included approximately three dozen tribes and was the most powerful chiefdom in the mid-Atlantic. Finds that date to the Fort Period (ca. 1607-1624) are tangible evidence of the sometimes peaceful, often tense, and occasionally violent relationship between the English and the Powhatan chiefdom that surrounded them.

Small triangular projectile points are the arrowheads that would have been used by the Virginia Indians during the Fort period. With approximately 250 in the collection, they are the most common point type recovered from archaeological excavations within and around the fort site. As the name suggests, they are small and triangular! Depending on the region where these points are found, some archaeologists may refer to these points by other names such as Clarksville or Hillsboro.

As with many of the projectile points in the Jamestown collection, quartzite is the most common material type used to manufacture these small triangular points. However, quartz is a close second – over 65 quartz small triangular points have been recovered. Both quartz and quartzite are plentiful throughout the mid-Atlantic region and are good options for making durable projectile points. Though many of these quartz points are a milky white color, over 15 are crystal clear. Additionally, small triangular points made of English flint, jasper, rhyolite, and other materials are represented in the collection.

While many small triangular projectile points were excavated from mixed contexts such as plowzone, around 100 were recovered from intact 17th century features. These artifacts are often thought of in association with violence or hunting and at least one small triangular projectile point was recovered from a burial context, likely the deadly result of an early attack by the Virginia Indians. However, projectile points may have also been used as trade items or gifts. In one of John Smith’s works, he writes “But to proceed, 60 of those Sasquesahanocks, came to the discoverers with skins, Bowes, Arrowes, Targets, Beads, Swords, and Tobacco pipes for presents.” Characteristics of intact points such as pleasing appearance, rarity of material, manufacturing quality, and apparent lack of use indicate this may have been the case at James Fort.

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