Beyond a suggestive morphology: were Wardaman stone points exclusively spear armatures?
Stone points were introduced across northern Australia during the mid-Holocene. The reasons behind this novel technological development are unclear but, given their morphology, an obvious interpretation is that they were used as spear tips. However, others have theorised that points, along with backed artefacts elsewhere, may have been multifunctional tools. This paper tests the hypothesis that lithic points were primarily spear tips by applying a macrofracture analysis, supported by experimentation, in order to identify diagnostic impact fractures on a large sample of points from Wardaman Country in the Northern Territory. The analysis suggests that points were rarely used as spear tips overall, though they were more commonly employed as projectiles when first introduced to Wardaman Country and when transported away from large residential sites to regions where mobile hunting equipment might be expected.
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