Hard core and cutting edge: experimental manufacture and use of Magdalenian composite projectile tips

Abstract : The technology of the European Upper Palaeolithic yielded abundant evidence of the use of composite projectile heads, in the form of osseous points on the side of which one or several (micro)lithic elements are attached. Yet, little experimental work has been devoted to testing and assessing the parameters of use of this type of composite tips. In this paper we present a pilot experiment with replicas of Magdalenian composite spear tips, made of an antler point with one or two rows of flint backed bladelets. Two series of replicas were manufactured after the lithic and osseous record of, respectively, the Lower Magdalenian from southwest France (c. 20-18 Ky cal BP) and the Upper Magdalenian of Pincevent in the Paris Basin (c. 15-14 Ky cal BP). The 34 experimental composite heads were hafted to spears that were then shot with a spearthrower at the carcasses of two young deer. The results provide some insight into the performance characteristics of the osseous and lithic components, both in efficiency and durability. Finally, possible improvements of the experimental protocol are discussed, as well as the implications of our results for the understanding of projectile point variability in the Upper Palaeolithic.
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Jean-Marc Pétillon, Olivier Bignon, Pierre Bodu, Pierre Cattelain, Gregory Debout, et al.. Hard core and cutting edge: experimental manufacture and use of Magdalenian composite projectile tips. Journal of Archaeological Science, Elsevier, 2011, 38 (6), pp.1266-1283. ⟨10.1016/j.jas.2011.01.002⟩. ⟨halshs-00598540⟩

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