Penetration, tissue damage, and lethality of wood-versus lithic-tipped projectiles


Book Section

© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Lithic projectile points are a universal component of the hunting tool kits of archeologically- and historically-known foragers. Recent experimental work with ballistic gelatin targets has shown that lithic-tipped projectiles do not have a marked penetration advantage over those with simple sharpened wooden points, leading to the suggestion that investment in the production of lithic points may serve social rather than economic motives. Here we report on experimental work with wood- and stone-tipped arrows fired into calibrated ballistic gel. While the stone-tipped arrows underperformed with respect to penetration, they far exceeded the wood-tipped arrows in the volume of gelatin destroyed. These results suggest that the total volume of tissue destroyed by a projectile is as or more important than its penetration depth, that adding a lithic point increases the lethality of a projectile, and that decisions about projectile armatures were motivated by economic rather than social concerns.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Salem, PE; Churchill, SE

Published Date

  • January 1, 2016

Book Title

  • Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology

Start / End Page

  • 203 - 212

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/978-94-017-7602-8_14

Citation Source

  • Scopus