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Projectile Points
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BREWERTON SIDE NOTCHED

Defining Attributes

The Brewerton Side Notched is a medium-sized, broad and thick point, with an expanded base and side notching.

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Chronology

The Brewerton Side Notched point is part of the Brewerton Complex, which began during the late Middle Archaic period and continued into the Late Archaic.  One of the oldest radiocarbon dates for the Brewerton Side Notched, 5630 +/- 115 BP (approximately 4510 BC in calendar years), was recorded at the Zawatski site in New York (Custer 1996b).  A radiocarbon date of 5280 +/- 170 BP (4140 +/-240 BC calendar) was obtained for a feature that contained Brewerton Side Notched points at the Brown site in Pennsylvania (George and Davis 1986).  At the Sheep Rock site in Pennsylvania, these points were dated to 4300 +/- 180 BP (approximately 2900 BC calendar), and dated at the Rohr Rockshelter in West Virginia to 4150 +/- 60 BP (approximately 2850 BC) (Kinsey 1972; George and Davis 1986).  A majority of radiocarbon dates for this point fall between 4300 BC and 3500 BC in calendar years (Inashima 2008).

Most authorities feel the four point types of the Brewerton Complex were contemporary, although Ritchie (1971) suggests the Side Notched was the oldest.  Custer (1996b) places the start of the Brewerton Complex around 4300 BC (calendar) and continuing to perhaps 1600 BC.  Justice (1987) suggests a range of 4930 to 3673 BP (approximately 3700-2050 BC calendar), while Funk (1993) suggests 5150 to 4450 BP (approximately 3950-3100 BC calendar) for the Brewerton Complex in the Upper Susquehanna Valley.

Description

Blade: The blade is triangular in shape, and biconvex in cross section.  Edges are generally slightly excurvate or straight, but can be incurvate.  Faint serrations are sometimes present.  On some examples, the tip has been acutely narrowed, apparently as a result of re-sharpening (George and Davis 1986).

Haft Element: The stem is side notched, occasionally with dual notches.  The notches are medium-sized, well-formed, and can be ground.  The base is expanded, which sometimes gives it an eared appearance.  The base is usually straight or slightly convex, but can be concave, and is often ground.  However, only two of the ten Brewerton Side Notched points from the Higgins site in Anne Arundel County exhibited basal grinding (Ebright 1992).

Size: Length ranges from 21 to 98 mm, with most between 32 and 57 mm.  Width ranges from 16 to 33 mm.  Thickness ranges from 5.5 to 13 mm, with most between 8 and 9.5 mm.

Technique of manufacture: Made by percussion flaking, with pressure flaked retouching common.

Material: In a sample of 91 Brewerton Side Notched points from the lower Patuxent drainage, Steponaitis (1980) reported that 42% were quartz, followed by quartzite (22%), chert (20%), and rhyolite (16%).  In the area surrounding Zekiah Swamp on the lower Potomac, Wanser (1982) found that 66% of 184 Brewerton Side Notched points were quartz, with 23% quartzite, 10% rhyolite, and 1% other materials.  All 10 Brewerton Side Notched points found at the Higgins site in Anne Arundel County were quartz (Ebright 1992). Stewart (1980) reported that 81% of 21 Brewerton Side Notched-like points in the Hagerstown Valley were rhyolite, with the remainder chert or jasper.

Discussion

Brewerton Side Notched points are found across the Northeast from southern New England to Maryland, and west into the Ohio Valley and southern Canada.  Morphologically-similar types are found as far west as Michigan and Illinois (Justice 1987).  This is the most common point in the Brewerton Complex (Ritchie 1971). 

Justice (1987) considers the Brewerton Side Notched to be a re-sharpening variant of the Brewerton Corner Notched, while LeeDecker and Koldehoff (1991) note that Brewertons can resemble re-sharpened Otter Creek points.  Ritchie (1971) suggests the Brewerton Side Notched is related to the Otter Creek point, and possibly to other, older side notched types from the Southeast.  Brewerton Side Notched points were found with Otter Creek points at the Higgins site, where they probably date to the late Middle Archaic period (Ebright 1992; Dent 1995).

Defined in Literature

Ritchie first described this type in 1940, and published a formal definition in 1961 (revised 1971). 

References

Custer 1996b; Dent 1995; Ebright 1992; Funk 1993; George and Davis 1986; Inashima 2008; Justice 1987; Kinsey 1972; LeeDecker and Koldehoff 1991; Ritchie 1971; Steponaitis 1980; Stewart 1980; Wanser 1982

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Maryland's Prehistory

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Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab Updated: 12/30/12

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