Thirteen “razor-sharp” stone arrowheads According to archaeologists at the University of Oregon, the ones found in western Idaho are “approximately” 15,700 years old, making them the oldest weapons ever found in the Americas.
The “complete and fragmentary projectile tips” — which look like arrowheads — are about 2,300 years older than any previously found, the university said in a Dec. 23 news release.
“It’s one thing to say, ‘We think people were here in America 16,000 years ago’; it’s another thing to measure it by finding the well-made artifacts they left behind,” anthropology professor Lauren Davis said in a release.
“These discoveries add very important details about what the archaeological record of the earliest peoples of the Americas looks like.”
The well-preserved points are half an inch to 2 inches long and were found on the “terrace lower Salmon River of western Idaho,” according to findings published Dec. 23 in Science Advances.
Historians say the dig site, about 220 miles north of Boise, was “traditional Nez Perce land” and home to a village known as Nipee. The land today is called the Cooper Ferry Landing and is controlled by the federal Bureau of Land Management, the university said.
Davies says the dart tips represent “the technology of the time” and were likely “attached to darts rather than arrows or spears and, despite their small size, were deadly weapons.”
“It has been suggested that early projectile points had to be large to kill large game; however, smaller projectile points mounted on darts penetrate deeply and cause massive internal damage,” he said in the release.
“You can hunt any animal we know of with a weapon like this.”
A multi-year excavation at Cooper’s Ferry has uncovered 65,000 artifacts, as well as “a 14,200-year-old hearth and food processing area containing the remains of an extinct horse,” according to the university.
The university said projectile points were found between 2012 and 2017, and the excavation site has since been reclaimed with soil.