Central States Archaeological Societies
Central States Archaeological Societies
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The Spavinaw Creek Dart Point

by Matt Rowe

Central States Archaeological Societies 2013 April Journal

Curator, Museum of Native American History, Bentonville, Arkansas

Initial Description: Spavinaw Creek are a small to medium size side-notched dart point made on a triangular preform. The blades are triangular in outline with edges that can be straight, recurved or slightly convex. They are lenticular in cross section, often have a needle- like tip and itís not unusual to see them with fine serrations. Delicate side notches are placed very low, near the base, and are angled upwards. Basal edges are well-thinned and vary from straight, recurved, or

concave. When the base is deeply oncave, the low notches often give the appearance of the point being auriculate or fish-tailed. They are finely crafted with intricate flaking that ranges from random to parallel or even. Thermally altered lithic stone seems to have been preferred, especially when Kay County and Reeds Spring chert was utilized. Spavinaw Creek points generally attain lengths between 35mm-60mm and a width of 17mm-20mm

Age/Culture: Concrete dates have yet to be established but they are tentatively placed with terminal Hopewell and should date in the A.D. 100 Ė A.D. 400 range, in eastern Oklahoma they are part of the Cooper focus. They have been found in association with late Woodland at the Shields site near Kansas City MO. (Shippee, 1967; 33), Rice Shelter in Missouri (Bray, 1956; 131) the Lawrence site in Nowata Co, Oklahoma (Baldwin, 1969; 87-90) and at site 3CW142, Pine Mt. Lake in Crawford County, Arkansas (Hurdlebrink 1976).

Distribution: Spavinaw Creek are found throughout the western edge of Ozarks plateau and the central lowlands of Oklahoma and Kansas: Northeast Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas, west Missouri and east Kansas. The vast majority of Spavinaw Creek have been found along the Arkansas River drainage and the Grand Neosho waterway and its tributaries. As collectors become
more familiar with the type it will become easier to establish a more comprehensive distribution range.

Commentary: Spavinaw Creek dart points are named for the small perennial stream that begins in the Ozark foothills of northwestern Arkansas and flows into the Grand River in northeastern Oklahoma. There are numerous sites along this waterway due to the potable water, rock shelters, edible plants and abundant wildlife.

Spavinaw Creek dart points were first recognized for.examples found on two sites in Mayes County, Oklahoma.

Both sites contained numerous Hopewell artifacts and late Woodland arrow points, but very little else. A cache of Spavinaw Creek points found at one of the sites was instrumental in showing variances within the type. The cache consisted of 7 points, made of Reeds Spring and Barren Fork chert. Basal configurations for these points ranged from straight to concave and the longest one has an extended tip.

Small, side-notched darts like these are prevalent throughout much of the United States. At the northern extent of their range Spavinaw Creek are often mistaken for the high plains Pelican Lake point, and further to the south they are often erroneously thought to be large Scallorn, Edgewood or even Ensor. Bell (1984;148- 149) suggests that these similar points may represent
evidence for a late period adoption of the bow and arrow, but their use as atlatl darts is much more likely. There is a knife form that is found in association with Spavinaw Creek dart points on occasion. These corner to side notched knives are much larger and can attain lengths of well over 3 inches. Size isnít the only difference, the bases are almost always concave and they are well-barbed.

Spavinaw Creek points are not rare; they can be seen commonly in collections from the Southwestern Ozarks throughout the central lowlands of Oklahoma and Kansas.

Bray, Robert T.
1956 The Culture-Complexes and Sequence at the Rice Site (23SN200) Stone County, Missouri. Preliminary Salvage Archaeology in the Table Rock Reservoir Area, Missouri. The Missouri Archaeologist, Volume 18, Numbers 1-2. The Missouri Archaeologist. 47-131

Bell, Robert E.
1984 Prehistory of Oklahoma. New World Archaeological Record. Academic Press, Inc. New York

Hurdlebrink, Douglas, Judith C. Husted and Thomas Pilgrim
1976 Archaeological Sites Recorded and Tested in the Pine Mountain Lake. Arkansas Archaeological Survey. Research Report No. 7, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701

Shippee, J.M.
1967 Archaeological Remains in the Area of Kansas City: The Woodland Period, Early, Middle, and Late. Missouri Archaeological Society Research Series. No. 5. Columbia, Missouri

Baldwin, Jane
1969 The Lawrence Site, Nw-6: A Non-Ceramic Site In Nowata County, Oklahoma. Bulletin of the Oklahoma Anthropological Society Volume XVIII . Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

At top: Spavinaw Creek dart points. These three were part of a cache, and show just how varied the type can be. The longest
measures 2 inches in length.