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Projectile Points
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HALIFAX

Thumbnail image of a Halifax point.Defining Attributes

The Halifax point has a slender blade and a broad base, with wide, shallow side notches.

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Chronology

The Halifax point dates to the Middle and Late Archaic periods.  McAvoy and McAvoy (1997) found Halifax points in numerous features radiocarbon dated between 5500 and 4850 BP (approximately 4350-3600 BC in calendar years) along the Nottoway River in Virginia.  At site 44PW1292, located near the Potomac River on Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virgina, 20 Halifax points were found in contexts that produced five radiocarbon dates between 5020 and 4770 BP, or 3850-3550 BC calendar (Bedell et al. 2014).  A radiocarbon date of 5440 +/- 350 BP was obtained from a Halifax provenience at the Gaston site in North Carolina Coe (1964). 

Description

Blade: The blade is usually long and narrow, with slightly convex sides.  Some examples are shorter and have straight or concave sides, which appear to be the result of re-sharpening.  The maximum width frequently occurs two-thirds down the length of the blade, from the tip.

Haft Element: The base is typically ground.  It is usually straight or slightly concave, and is a little narrower than the maximum width of the blade.  The broad and shallow side notches are also frequently ground.  Notches begin at the point of maximum width and continue to the base.  In some examples, the point seems more stemmed than notched.

Size: Length ranges from 29 to 56 mm, with an average of 44 mm.  Width ranges from 17 to 25 mm, with an average of 20 mm.  Thickness ranges from 8 to 11 mm.

Technique of manufacture: Soft percussion and pressure flaking; a typical Halifax point is relatively thick, and was made from a core rather than a thin flake. 

Material: In the Monocacy River drainage, 47% of 43 Halifax points were quartz, with 42% rhyolite and 11% chert (Kavanagh 1982).  The Halifax points in the middle Potomac Valley are commonly quartz, but also appear in quartzite and rhyolite (Hranicky 2002:149).

Discussion

Coe (1964) observes that the Halifax point is a relatively common find in eastern North Carolina, particularly north and east of the Roanoke River Basin.  They are ubiquitous across the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of Virginia, but Maryland seems to be their northern limit.  They are rarely reported in Southern Maryland, and they are present but not common in the middle Potomac River Valley (Hranicky 2002). 

The Halifax has been described as a shorter, notched version of the slightly earlier Guilford point, and the similarities between Guilford, Halifax, and Savannah River points may indicate a certain degree of Archaic period cultural continuity (Ward and Davis 1999).  Similarity with the Vernon point has also been noted, and some researchers combine the two types (Wanser 1982; LeeDecker and Koldehoff 1991).  The “Type C” points from the Higgins site in Anne Arundel County were similar to the Halifax, but had a more deeply indented base (Ebright 1992).

Defined in Literature

Halifax points were originally defined by Coe (1964), based on points recovered from the Gaston site in the North Carolina Piedmont.

References

Bedell et al. 2014; Coe 1964; Ebright 1992; Hranicky 2002; Kavanagh 1982; LeeDecker and Koldehoff 1991; McAvoy and McAvoy 1997; Wanser 1982; Ward and Davis 1999

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Maryland's Prehistory

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