projectile points
Assorted projectile points from a broad range of time at Panaulauca Cave Projectile points are perhaps the most commonly recognized of archaeological tools or artifacts. Many people refer to any artifact that resembles a point as an arrowhead. However, in the Andean puna during preceramic times points were to tip throwing spears, not for arrows. They are referred to as bifacial tools, as they are worked on both sides of the original flake from which they were made.

The most common Panalauca points from around 3500 B.C., with odd needle-like tips, and crudely worked bases One reason projectile points stand out among stone tools is because they are very stylized to show clear differences between their makers, who lived in different times and places. Projectile points are thus an indicator of social variability and tradition; in the puna where mobility of groups was limited, style became localized within small groups. At times styles also may converge, showing cultures influencing each other, or the movement of people over the landscape.

An assortment of points from Pachamachay Cave There are many styles of projectile points. The earliest known points from the puna have a triangular shape with a concave base, and are generally very thin. A general trend from early to later times shows points changing from shouldered, to leaf-shaped, to smaller, less elongate points. Some believe that points from the same time should be essentially identical, but there is evidence that there may have been notably different forms between small local groups in the same period during the Preceramic Period of the Junin puna.

Willow-leaf-shaped points from around 3500 B.C. in the site of Pachamachay Special characteristics seen on some types of projectile points can also be used to classify them. The second picture shows needle point tips from Panalauca, easily identified by the small, finely worked point. Other classes include willows, as seen in the last picture from Pachamachay. Specific characteristics like these are what have been used to group projectile points for archaeological classification.

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