Repository logo

Terminal transitions : an analysis of projectile points from the terminal middle period on the northern plains



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Degree Level



The Terminal Middle Period (3000 to 2000 B.P.) and the Transitional Late Period (2000 B.P. to 1500 B.P.) contain a number of diverse projectile point styles belonging to several cultural complexes. The cultural complexes studied here include: Pelican Lake, Besant, Outlook, Bracken, Sonota and Sandy Creek. The point styles associated with these complexes have been in the past separated on largely visual or subjective bases. Clarifying the projectile point morphologies during this period will allow for better interpretations of archaeological sites on the Northern Plains. To aid in this clarification, twelve projectile point assemblages from nine previously excavated sites on the Saskatchewan and Alberta Plains were studied. These assemblages were subjected to geometric morphometric and discriminate function analysis. Beyond these two avenues of analysis, the assemblages were also subjected to metric testing to determine if the point styles were more consistent with arrow or dart projectiles. During this time period, the technological transition from the atlatl and dart to bow and arrow appears to have occurred. As a result of the arrow/dart testing, a pattern of robustness was seen in the kill site assemblages as compared to the habitation site assemblages. This resulted in larger points being found in communal kill sites in the study suggesting a link between game size and hunting methods. The result from this analysis recommends a reduction in the independent point styles suggested by other researchers. The data trends towards the finding that two major cultural complexes existed in the Terminal Middle / Transitional Late periods in the studied region of Northern Plains, Pelican Lake and Besant. A third minor group morphologicaly between the two major groups.



projectile points, middle period, atlatl, bow and arrow, northern plains, geometric morphometrics



Master of Arts (M.A.)


Archaeology and Anthropology




Part Of