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Chapter 2: Transitional Paleo-Indian/Archaic Points

Transitional Paleo-Indian/Early Archaic Points


Relatively few of South Carolina’s prehistoric chipped stone bifaces can, with absolute certainty, be placed into the time frame that transitions between the Paleo-Indian and Early Archaic cultural periods. Some of those believed to share a Paleo-Indian/Early Archaic cultural affiliation are presented here.

Beaver Lake

As described by Cambron and Hulse (1975) (DeJarnette, Kurjack and Cambron, (1962) 

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“The cross-section is usually biconvex, but one or both faces may be median ridged. The blade is recurvate-constricted in the hafting area and above the auricles. The distal end is usually acute. The auriculated hafting area is expanded-rounded. The basal edge is usually thinned and incurvate, but may be straight. The hafting constriction and basal edge are usually ground.”


“The shallow random flaking usually employed to shape the faces sometimes produces a median ridge. Secondary retouch flake scars are usually long, evenly spaced, and struck off on alternate faces, resulting in an irregular pattern along the blade edges. This retouch appears to have been accomplished with indirect percussion or pressure flaking.”

Length:                            47 – 86 mm – average – 64 mm
Width:                                                  average – 24 mm
Thickness:                                            average – 08 mm


“The type was named for the Beaver Lake area in Limestone County, Alabama. The type has been called Unfluted Cumberland in several papers, especially Soday and Cambron (n.d). All evidence indicates the type dates from 10,000 B.P. to an unknown earlier time. It is considered to be a transitional Paleo-Indian type.”

David L. DeJarnette, James W. Cambron, David C. Hulse and Edward B. Kurjack named the point in 1962 for examples that were recovered from the Stanfield-Whorley Bluff Shelter, Colbert County, Alabama. It was named for the Beaver Lake area of Limestone County, Alabama.

(In South Carolina, we may be confusing the Beaver Lake point [fig. 1] with other lanceolate forms having incurvate, or waisted haft areas that are considered “Simpson-like.” Rarely do we see a classic example of Beaver Lake such as shown in figure one. Assigning these waisted biface forms to a general “Paleo-Indian” category may be the best that we can, or should do, until more definitive data is obtained).

Figure 1. Beaver Lake point made of milky quartz.



“The Dalton point has been named from distinctive types representing the Dalton culture of central Missouri. The Dalton culture and hence the Dalton point have been named in honor of Judge S. P. Dalton of Jefferson City, Missouri who first furnished information regarding this early lithic culture (Chapman 1948, p.138).”

As described by Bell (1958)


“The Dalton point is an early dart point which is quite distinctive. Although it is not essentially a stemmed point, a stem or basal section is clearly marked off from the blade, either by grinding or a change in outline. The blade is triangular in outline, usually with straight or very slightly convex or concave edges. The stem or basal section is roughly parallel-sided, frequently slightly concave along the edge and terminated by a deeply concave base. The concave base is thinned by one or more relatively large flake scars on both faces. The sides of the base are ground or smoothed and this may extend across the concave base. The blade is well flaked to produce serrations, often forming a coarse saw-like edge. The blade, moreover, may be slightly or strongly beveled although strong bevels are more likely to occur on what appears to be resharpened specimens. In size the Dalton point ranges from perhaps 1-1/2 inches to 3 inches with most examples falling between 2 and 2-1/2 inches in length.”


“The Dalton point appears to be most common in an area centering within Missouri although specimens are found widespread within the Mississippi basin. Examples are found in Oklahoma but are not common anywhere in the state.”

Age and Cultural Affiliation:

“The Dalton point has been found in the lowest levels at Graham Cave in Missouri where radiocarbon dates suggest an antiquity from 6000 to 8000 B. C. Although the type certainly lasted for a considerable period of time beyond that date, it does represent one of the early type points. An estimated time span would be from perhaps 8000 or 6000 B. C. up to perhaps 3000 B. C.”

“The type is a common type in the Dalton culture of Missouri. Elsewhere it is associated with a general Archaic Assemblage.”


“The Dalton point closely resembles the Meserve type in shape, size and workmanship. The Dalton point is normally serrated and may lack beveling; the Meserve point is usually strongly beveled and lacks pronounced serrations.”

(James L. Michie (1967) recognized a number of variations among South Carolina’s Dalton points and defined three as having attributes that he thought were consistent enough to be considered as distinctive forms; he designated these as Types  “A,” “B,” and “C” and he described and drew them [fig. 2] as follows).

The Dalton Point, as described by Michie (1967)

“Type “A”:  The most classic type, resembling in every detail those found in the Middle Western States. Type “A” is alternately beveled, serrated, incut at the shoulders, with a steeple shaped point above straight lateral edges. Type “A” has a moderate basal concavity and both lateral edges and base is heavily ground…(fig. 2; A-1 and A-2)”

“Type “B”: slightly different from Type “A” but similar in many respects. Type “B” is serrated, incut at the shoulders and has a steeple shaped point but lacks the alternately beveled edges. The lateral edges and the serrated point often are more convex than straight—lateral edges and concave base are well ground. A very distinguishing trait of this Type is that one ear or basal barb is always some ten millimeters longer than the other” (fig. 2; B-1, B-2, and B-3)

“Type “C”: Dalton appearance but lacking the serrated edges. These points are narrow when compared with their length. The basal concavity is relatively shallow when compared with Types “A” and “B” (fig. 2; C-1 and C-2)

(Michie states that, in his opinion, type A has a greater antiquity than types “B” and “C”; he further states that:)

“Other . . . variants have some but not all the features of the three types discussed, and do not fit into either of the three categories. These types may be intermediate variants between types, or poorly made specimens of one or the other…”

(Figure two shows Michie’s drawings of the artifacts he critiqued. It is difficult to fully appreciate, and perhaps understand his assessments based on these drawings).

Figure 2. Dalton points as described by James L. Michie.

(James L. Michie was an astute observer who by the mid 1960’s was attempting to make sense of the prehistoric stone tools of South Carolina—long before anyone else had attempted to do this. He named and described a number of biface and scraper types, among them the Taylor and Van Lott points and the Edgefield Scraper. He analyzed a number of Dalton points and his description of them follows. The number of Dalton points Michie used to arrive at his conclusions, and the exact area of their representation, is unclear. Based on my conversations with Michie, I think his data was based on a rather small sample observed in collections acquired from sites east and west of Richland County and along the Fall Line. My observations of Dalton points during the South Carolina Collectors Survey lead me to agree with Michie’s determination that his type “A” form of Dalton is the South Carolina form most like the Midwestern Daltons. However, this beveled form is uncommon in South Carolina, and I believe that it is not the oldest form of Dalton but rather the latest expression prior to transitioning into an Early Archaic tradition of points having notched hafting areas, and when alternately beveled blades became common. The Midwestern Dalton technology is more similar to that of Southeastern Early Archaic notched points such as the Taylor, Bolen and several others that are thought to date about 8000 B.C., and with which I suspect they are chronologically contemporary. The South Carolina Dalton points that lack the alternately beveled blades may be somewhat older than the proposed dates of 6000-8000 B.C. for the Midwestern Dalton. Variations of the Dalton point are found throughout the Southeastern and Midwestern states and it has not been determined if the different forms reflect regional or chronological differences, the lithic materials used for their manufacture, or any or all of these. For example, it is common for South Carolina Daltons made of ridge and valley cherts to be quite small in comparison to those made of metavolcanic stone or coastal plain cherts, and even quartz. I am reluctant to think the size of these small points are regional or chronological variations but rather are a result of the lithic material from which they are made. Seldom are large bifaces made of Ridge and Valley chert, from any cultural period, observed in South Carolina. Most Dalton points exhibit evidence of blade resharpening—apparently while in the shaft as indicated by the often-abrupt inset of the blade at its junction with the haft area [fig. 2; A-1, A-2, C-1, C-2; fig. 3; D, F, H, I, J]. Most blades are serrated, but not all. Serrations on the blade edges were usually maintained when resharpening was done, and converting them into hafted end scrapers was not uncommon [fig. 3; C) Based on the frequent occurrences of snapped blades indicative of old breaks, it is reasonable to assume that Dalton points were commonly broken in some form of domestic use. Impact fractures are infrequently observed but they do occur. A partial range of South Carolina’s Dalton forms, and the lithic materials from which they are made, are shown in figures three and four).

Figure 3. South Carolina Dalton points. A, ridge and valley chert; B, orthoquartzite; C, rhyolite, end scraper; D, E, unidentified metavolcanic; F, K, rhyolite; G, I, coastal plain chert; H, thermally altered coastal plain chert; J, quartz.


          Figure 4. Reworked Dalton points. A, ridge and valley chert; B, quartz, and C, jasper.


Hardaway Dalton

As described by Coe (1964)


“A broad, thin blade with deeply concave bases and shallow side-notches. Bases and side-notches were ground and edges were frequently serrated.”


“Broad and thin with rounded sides which converged to a sharp point. On the variety that most closely resembled the western Dalton type, the edges were straight or slightly concave and were lined with fine serration. The average ratio of width to length was about 1:2.”


“Deeply concave and frequently recurved, also ground and smooth. Side-notches: Broad, shallow and roughly parallel. They averaged about 20 mm. in length and were ground smooth. Some specimens appeared to be only slightly altered forms of the Hardaway Blade Type.”

Technique of manufacture:

“Generally, the same as for the Hardaway Blade type except the edges were more finely retouched and frequently finished with fine serrations. Bases and side-notches were thoroughly ground.”

Length:                50-80 mm – average – 60 mm
Width:                  30-40 mm – average -35 mm
Thickness:               5-8 mm – average – 07 mm


“There appears to be a definite connection between the Dalton or Meserve type in Missouri and the Hardaway type in the Carolina Piedmont. The Hardaway points, while falling far short of the excellence of some of the best examples of the Dalton type, nevertheless, still reflect the style and technique of the type with its own regional adaptation. Furthermore, the coarse grain stone available in the Piedmont was a definite factor that limited the quality of the product and handicapped the craftsman. Beveled blades were rare, but two of the twenty tabulated specimens were beveled on alternate sides. This appears to have been the result of resharpening rather than an initial intent. A brief survey of the published illustrations of the Dalton type also suggests that beveling was not a primary diagnostic trait. In general, the Hardaway variety appears to fit within the rather broad range of variations that have been described for the type, and it is presumed that it must also have existed at about the same period of time.”

Considered a transitional type between Paleo-Indian and Early Archaic periods and dating 8000-8500 B.C.

Figure 5. The Hardaway Dalton point. Made of various metavolcanic stones.


(In South Carolina, the Hardaway form of Dalton as described by Coe [fig. 5], occurs most commonly in the eastern Piedmont and northern Pee Dee regions. In the rest of the state, the typical Dalton is most often absent the shallow side notching in the haft area that Coe describes for the Hardaway Dalton, having instead straight parallel edges, or straight edges that taper slightly toward the distal end, creating a triangular shaped blade as shown in figures 2, 3, and 4).


Hardaway Side-Notched 

As described by Coe (1964)


“A small, broad, thin blade with narrow side-notches and a recurved, concave base.”


“Broad and very thin, the sides were usually straight, but also rounded occasionally. A typical blade had the shape of an equilateral triangle below the notch. A few specimens, however, had a blade that was larger and more rounded and resembled the characteristic form and size of the Hardaway-Dalton type. A few others were slender with a width to length ratio of 1:2.”


“Concave, recurved and ground. On many specimens, the base was deeply concave to the extent of being notch like. All bases were thinned by broad, shallow flakes that frequently extended a third of the distance down their face.”


“Narrow, deep and U-shaped. The average notch was about 4 mm. deep and 5 mm wide. On many specimens the notch was also ground  . . ..”

Coe states that they were made in the same manner as the Hardaway Blade, by direct percussion, with broad shallow flakes that extend into the center of the blade, but that . . . “All edges were carefully reworked to produce a light delicate point in contrast to the general grossness of the Hardaway Blade. The primary flakes were usually broad and shallow, while the secondary flakes were long and narrow, but never completely removed the evidence of the former.” Coe further states: “The Hardaway Blade, the Hardaway-Dalton, and the Hardaway side-Notched all appear to be related types. Their form and technique blend together, making it difficult to place all of the specimens into mutually exclusive categories.

Length:                28 -50 mm – average – 35 mm
Width:                23 -35 mm – average – 25 mm
Thickness:            3 – 0 6 mm – average – 04 mm

(In South Carolina, Hardaway Side-notched points [fig. 6] are most often found in the eastern Piedmont and upper Pee Dee River regions. They are usually made of high quality metavolcanic stone. Most of the breaks are old and appear to be the result of some form of use. These points are rarely found in the western Piedmont or lower coastal plain).

Figure 6. Hardaway Side-Notched points made of various metavolcanic stones and quartz. Breaks are result of prehistoric use.


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