Neolithic Saharan Arrowhead Type Guide

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Neolithic Saharan Arrowhead Type Guide.

The following is intended as a brief outline of many of the arrowhead types available from Saharan Africa.  It is not a comprehensive guide but covers the vast majority of what one would expect to come from the area.  All items pictured date to around 4000BC.


The leaf is the most common of all Saharan flints, although a very basic design it is strong, versatile and extremely useful.  Produced in a wide range of sizes it was able to be used in the hunting of anything from fish and birds to large land animals.  Often seen with serrations or notches running the full length of both blades allowing it to cause greater damage on impact and also be used as a hand held cutting tool.

Some of the most basic designs but a very efficient arrowhead. Wide base for securing to the arrow shaft and tapering to a sharp and strong point.  The triangle could be re-chipped and reshaped into almost any other type of arrowhead should the need arise.

Narrow at the base and wide at the blade, relatively rare in Saharan flints.  Often poorly finished, an early, efficient design.

These arrowheads are made from flakes knapped in a deliberate way from a core.  The cores were pre-shaped so that a pointed triangular flake was produced upon striking that required minimal modification to be made into a usable arrowhead.  Despite minimal edge knapping these arrowheads are important for the fact that they represent the efficiency and ingenuity of Neolithic man.

Named for their profile likeness to the Eiffel Tower in France these arrowheads are also occasionally known as ' Moroccan Points'.  Usually orange, brown or black in colour and often made of both stone and flint.  Many slight variations exist along a common design.  The arrowhead to the left shows serrations on just one of its blades, a very rare example of this type.

' Eccentric' is a term that covers everything that does not fit into any other category.  Usually these consist of heavily notched leaf arrowheads but many other types are also described using this term.  Quite rare, these points were either used for a specialised purpose or a knapper showing off his skills.

Often little more than just exaggerated triangles, ' Oblique' arrowheads are some of the very few non-symmetrical points found in Saharan Africa.

Barbed and Tanged arrowheads mark the pinnacle of Neolithic point design.  A central tang allows for sturdy attachment to the arrow shaft and the two barbs either side provide maximum penetration and retention of the weapon in its prey.  Usually on the smaller scale but not uncommon upto 60mm these arrowheads are extremely diverse coming in a myriad of slightly differing designs.  This design is commonly found in Saharan Africa though often these finds show damage to the tang or barbs.  Perfect examples with full barbs and tang are much sought by collectors.

The majority of flints on the market today were found in North West Africa. This is not a reflection on the density of usage of these items but more a reflection of the areas current climate - being very arid it makes it easier to find these items.  Arrowheads are typically collected and traded by the local nomadic peoples of the Sahara, they find them as the sand dunes move and they travel around seasonally grazing their herds.

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