Projectile points vary in size, shape and function, from small true “arrowheads” to larger points used as spears. In the 1950s-1960s, Curator Ripley Bullen classified more than 600 points to better understand stone tools. Scholars still use and debate this important collection.
These are examples of some of the most iconic stone tools from Florida: hafted bifaces, also known as projectile points. Bifaces are stone tools that were worked on two sides to achieve their shape. They were hafted with pine pitch and animal sinew to a shaft to make a functional spear, or arrow, or knife.
The larger example here, known as a Suwannee point, was the tip of a spear 12,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, and might have been used for dispatching now-extinct megafauna such as mammoth and mastodon.
The smaller example, known as a Pinellas point, was the tip of an arrow—a true arrowhead—that was used after about 600 A.D., with the widespread adoption of bow and arrow technology.
These artifacts come from the type collection compiled in the 1950s and ’60s by Ripley Bullen, the curator and seminal figure in Florida archaeology. The shapes of these stone tools show patterns across time and space, making them useful for understanding chronological and cultural relationships. Bullen provided an important foundation for creating projectile point typologies, and generations of archaeologists have used and refined his compilation for nearly 50 years.
Associate Curator, Florida Archaeology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Florida Projectile Points
True Arrowheads (Pinellas Type)
Found in Alachua Co., Florida
Dates to ~1250–1600 BC
Florida’s Earliest Projectile Points (Suwannee Type)
Location Information Unknown
Dates to ~10,000–8000 BC
From the Ripley Bullen Type Collection