One tanged instrument (maybe an unfinished arrow point) from the Dutch Neolithic and four tanged arrow points from the PPNB of the Levant.

Projectile points made of stone are known since  the MSA  and the Middle Paleolithic  (http://www.aggsbach.de/2011/11/mousterian-msa-point-from-maroc/) (http://www.aggsbach.de/2011/10/targeting-prey-by-bow-and-arrow/)

Composite technology roughly appeared at  the same time (http://www.aggsbach.de/2011/03/to-be-or-not-to-be-aterian/) (http://www.aggsbach.de/2010/08/the-invention-of-hafting-and-backing/)

Even more effective projectile points made of stone emerged at ca 40 k.a. BP and helped H.sapiens to spread from Africa to Eurasia.

Tanging as one principle for successful hafting first appears during the MSA of North Africa (“Aterian”). Tanged points are projectile points that have a tang at one end to facilitate hafting. A tang is made by retouching one, or more usually both edges, in order to create a projection that is thinner than the width of the blank. This projection is then fitted into the dart or arrow shaft.

The perfect symmetry of tanged and hafted points allows an optimal transmission of kinetic power. The aerodynamics of tanged points may be responsible for their success during (pre)-history. Tanged projectiles are known since the Gravettian (Font Robert Points) and were found worldwide in the archaeological record ( e.g. during the Korean Paleolithic, the incipient Jomon period of Japan, Ahrensburg and Bromme cultures of N-Europe, the PPNA/B Neolithic in the Levant and the “Neolithic” cultures of N-Africa and the Sahara). Tanged points as a “near optimal” solution of a given problem have even survived as a component of modern archery.


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About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome! About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University. Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.
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5 Responses to Tanged

  1. i dont agree on most of the points (sorry for the pun)

    Efective projectile technology largely outdates 40 ka.

    See Lower Paleolithic
    Thieme H. 1999: Altpaläolithische Holzgeräte aus Schöningen, Lkr. Helmstedt. Germania 77, pp. 451-487
    Golek M & Rieder H 1999: Erprobung der Altpalaolithischen Wurfspeere von Schöningen in: Stadion, Internationale Zeitschrift für Geschichte des Sports Nr. XXV Academia Verlag Sankt Augustin, S. 1-12

    Lower to Middle Paleolithic

    And Middle Paleolithic
    Talia Lazuen (2012). European Neanderthal stone hunting weapons reveal complex behaviour long before the appearance of modern humans Journal of Archaeological Science, 39 (7), 2304-2311 DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.02.032

    And also:

    Galván Santos, B., Hernández Gómez, C. M. y Francisco Ortega, M. I. (2007-2008): “Elementos líticos apuntados en el Musteriense alcoyano, el Abric del Pastor (Alicante)”, Veleia, nº 24-25, pp. 367-383.

    Hutchings, W. K. (2011): “Measuring use-related fracture velocity in lithic armatures to identify spears, javelins, darts, and arrows”, Journal of Archaeological Science, v. 38, nº 7, pp. 1737-1746.

    Ríos, J. (2010): “Organización económica de las sociedades neandertales: el caso del nivel VII de Amalda (Zestoa, Gipuzkoa)”, Zephyrus, nº 65, pp. 15-37.

    Villa, P., Boscato, P., Ranaldo, F. y Ronchitelli, A. (2009): “Stone tools for the hunt: points with impact scars from a Middle Paleolithic site in southern Italy”, Journal of Archaeological Science, v. 36, nº 3, pp. 850-859.

    Aditionally, i find a bit “off-the-shore” your apreciations about hafting, aerodynamics, penetration, etc, related to paleolithic weaponery… As an example, penetration is related to a series of indexes of surface, perimeters, etc (Hughes 1998, Hutchings 2011) where the hafting system (i.e. tanged, or otherwise) is basically irrelevant.
    And, related to aerodynamics: once the tip is more or less a point, the “aerodynamic detail” of the stone part is irrelevant due to the role of hafting (the wooden part of the spear), specially on the hand-thrown weapons.

  2. katzman says:

    You’re an avid reader! Of course you’re right. And of course I know it even better. So I’ve revised my text according to your critique and referring to some of my earlier posts. Anyhow, where is the proof that the hafting system (i.e. tanged, or otherwise) is basically irrelevant?

  3. Actually, i recently wrote a post in my blog about MP weaponery, and i’ve done a few more in the recent years, so thats just the explanation of my specific “savoir” in this issue.

    And, I mean basically irrelevant just for the penetration issue, not irrelevant in a general sense. The hafting system is important in the durability, resistance, manteinance and replacement of tips, etc. Also, a tanged point can be useful if you want a tip bigger than the haft.

    But for the penetration issue, the tip-cross section perimeter and area (TPSP & TPSA) are the basic relevant measurements, and similar TCSPs and TCSAs can be achieved using very different hafting techniques, so that’s why i think it’s irrelevant, in that sense.

  4. Katzman says:

    Of course parameters like the TCSA are of high importance regarding the penetration of a tip. But I talk about the aerodynamics of the weapon. A symmetrical point would prevent a spin of the dart or arrow during flight and therefore stabilize the aerodynamic integrity of the weaponry

  5. francesco albrizio says:

    Chiedo scusa se rispondo in ritardo, ringraziando per la risposta del: may 18 2015

    cordiali saluti
    francesco albrizio

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