Discerning and explaining shape variations in Later Stone Age tanged arrowheads, South Africa.

Ilan Ryan Smeyatsky, Karim Sadr, Patrick Randolph-Quinney


Over the past decade a new method of statistical shape analysis, geometric morphometrics, has been applied to the study of artefact shapes. Later Stone Age (LSA) tanged stone arrowheads have been analysed with geometric morphometrics and reveal spatially coherent variations in their shape. These spatial variations may indicate stylistic or other kinds of boundaries between different elements of prehistoric San populations, and understanding them can shed light on the social and economic organization of southern African hunter-gatherers during the later Holocene.