Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 968012, 8 pages
Research Article

The African Origin of Complex Projectile Technology: An Analysis Using Tip Cross-Sectional Area and Perimeter

1Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-4364, USA
2Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-4364, USA

Received 15 September 2010; Accepted 31 January 2011

Academic Editor: John Gowlett

Copyright © 2011 Matthew L. Sisk and John J. Shea. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Despite a body of literature focusing on the functionality of modern and stylistically distinct projectile points, comparatively little attention has been paid to quantifying the functionality of the early stages of projectile use. Previous work identified a simple ballistics measure, the Tip Cross-Sectional Area, as a way of determining if a given class of stone points could have served as effective projectile armatures. Here we use this in combination with an alternate measure, the Tip Cross-Sectional Perimeter, a more accurate proxy of the force needed to penetrate a target to a lethal depth. The current study discusses this measure and uses it to analyze a collection of measurements from African Middle Stone Age pointed stone artifacts. Several point types that were rejected in previous studies are statistically indistinguishable from ethnographic projectile points using this new measure. The ramifications of this finding for a Middle Stone Age origin of complex projectile technology is discussed.