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Experimental basis in lithic arrows usage and hafting at the end of the last glaciation in the French Alps

Jardón Giner, Paula, Pion, Gilbert, Hortelano, Laura
Quaternary international 2017 v.427 pp. 193-205
anthropology, glaciation, Alps region, France
To identify lithic arrowheads from Prehistoric sites is very difficult because there is a great variability in their morphology and in the ways of hafting and throwing them. Variables playing in their use are numerous. Some experimental approaches try to explain traces in prehistorical lithic points by mean of paying attention at some of these variables. Many researchers have used morphological parameters to distinguish spear from arrowheads, showing which characteristics define the potential of each type of weapon in ethnographical examples. However, only an accurate use-wear analysis that pays attention on macro and micro-wear traces and which is grounded on systematically experimentation references, could help to understand their real context of use.Several attempts have yielded results about facts as the absence of traces in used projectiles, breakages at the end of hafts or some characteristics like macro-wear and micro-wear traces. Many of these results were obtained in laboratory conditions by shooting at artificial targets since only few experimentation approaches use animals.We present the results of experimental shots with bows of 53 exact copies of lithic pointed implements, arrows from the Mesolithic and Azilian layers from La Fru and Gerbaix Haut (from the Savoie and Haute Alpes regions in France) sites. Some of the results and conclusions of this experimental approach can be directly transferred to other contexts. Furthermore, methodological discussion is important for further experimental researches and archaeological interpretation.