Types of Arrowheads in Texas

Types of Arrowheads in Texas

Arrowheads have played an important role in the survival of the human species. In the years before civilization, and all its associated ills arrows put food on the table and kept away marauding animals and people. Not only did arrows ensure the survival of families and tribes, but arrows also made nations into empires. It is, therefore, reasonable to say that arrows were as important then as automatic riffles are today. In this article, we want to focus on Texas and the types of arrows that were left there by generations gone by.

The Apache and Comanche tribes (or nations) are the most well-known Native American tribes that inhabited Texas, but dozens of other tribes lived all over the region at different times, sometimes simultaneously, until the mid-1800s. They left behind thousands of arrowheads, which can still be found with a little effort, and which give priceless insights into the lives and times of our predecessors in what is now Texas. You can find these arrowheads in Dry creek-beds, riverbanks and freshly plowed planting fields in rural areas. Heavy rains can dislodge formerly buried arrowheads, so the odds of success can greatly improve after a big downpour.  Let us examine some of them.

 Types of Arrowheads in Texas (By Shape)

  • Articulate

this type of arrowheads is roughly shaped like small fish. There is a sharp point that gradually extends evenly on two sides and then widens rapidly before contrasting again to make a dent. Apparently the whole arrowhead was designed to pierce the flesh of the victim and then stick to it in a manner that made pulling it out especially painful, and quite frequently lethal. Many of these arrowheads that have been found were made of cut stone.

  • Basal-notched

These types of arrowheads are basically identified by the notches at the bottom. They are mostly shaped as regular triangles with the notches in the bottom likely serving to hold the arrowheads fast to the arrows. They can vary in color but are mostly made of stone.

  • Contracting stem

This is another interesting piece of ancient craftsmanship. The arrow-heads are basically triangular-shaped, with long projecting stems that gradually contract, or reduce downwards, giving the effect of another triangle on the opposite end. As a matter of fact, some arrow-head enthusiasts have described this as two triangled arrowheads; one large triangle on top, and a smaller triangle at base.

Types of Arrowheads in Texas
Types of Arrowheads in Texas
  • Corner-notched

This type of arrowheads are simple triangles at the top, but have notches on the bottom corners, to differentiate between them and other types of arrowheads. They are quite similar in appearance to the articulate type of arrow-heads.

  • Lanceolate

This is a more direct type of arrow-head; there is little effort to make an elaborate item that will become an interesting artifact for future generations to wow over. This type of arrow-head is thin, long, and has no dents or notches of any kind. They do not even have any depressions with which to fasten the arrow-heads to their arrows.

  • Leaf Type

The leaf type of arrow-heads is wide in middle, but quite narrow at both the top and bottom ends. Due to its shape, one can expect that it would require some extra force to get the arrow to pierce the flesh of the victim or target such that sticks to the body.

  • Side notched

Side notched arrow-heads are a type of arrow-heads that start like they would be triangular in shape but have dents or notches at the sides, thus making them resemble two equal triangles with the notches joining them.

  • Expanding stem

These types of arrow-heads are unique because they are the opposite of what we have seen so far. Usually the bottom base of arrow-heads contract or reduce in size as they progress downward, but in this case, the arrow-heads actually expand downwards.

  • Stemmed Types

Stemmed type of arrow-heads are arrowheads that basically look like  Christmas trees. There is a tip, which progresses into a kind of elongated triangle, and which then ends with a straight trunk. There are no notches, and the arrow-heads just fast to the arrows at the trunk.

  • Triangle Type

This type of arrow-heads is quite simple in design. It is basically just a triangle with a sharp point. There are no notches, grooves or any other designs.

No doubt in the times past, arrow-heads offered clues as to the tribes that attacked or invaded other tribes. It seems reasonable to say that native Americans could identify each other by the shapes of arrow-heads they had in the possession at the time.

That is all about the types of arrow-heads you can find in Texas. But if you are a new enthusiast of arrow-heads then there a few things that you should know that will help you as you begin to unearth these wonderful pieces of our history.

What will you need to properly identify arrowheads?

You will need a magnifying glass to spot notches, concave areas or other distinguishing characteristics. of individual types of arrow-heads. The various notches, grooves, indentations, and protrusions offer clues about the surprising techniques which were developed by Native Americans to fabricate the arrowheads.

Take special note the color and texture of the stone with which the arrow-head is made. Most Texas arrowheads are made from flint, which is a type of stone that can vary in color from dark brown to gray. Some are even partly transparent.

You will need life-sized photos of the various types of arrow-heads that you can find in Texas so that you can compare them against the particular arrow-heads that you have found. If the photos or diagrams are the property of a school or college then you can ask for a copy or take pictures of your own arrow-heads, or even take your actual arrow-heads there for analysis. When taking photos of your arrow-heads take multiple close-up photos against a contrasting background -that is a background of a different or opposing color.


Please take note that It is illegal to collect arrowheads on public lands, including Texas state parks and national parks. If you chance upon arrow-heads on private land,  Landowner permission is required to collect them there because arrow-heads are considered archaeological pieces of value.

And now for some interesting trivia:

  • Who were the first people to develop the bow and arrow? was it the –native Americans of Texas? Let’s find out below.

The History and Development of Archery

Paleontologists generally agree that the invention of bows and arrows in the Paleolithic period, which is about 71,000 years ago. This date is based on archaeological evidence of arrowheads and cave paintings.  They show that prehistoric men used bows and arrows to hunt. Originally, bows and arrows were tools developed in hunter-gatherer societies for the provision of food. But arrowheads assumed importance in another way thousands of years later when men began to fight among themselves for resources or for tribal superiority, eventually utilizing these tools as weapons of war. The invention of the bow and arrow added the element of surprise to hunting. Whereas other weapons, like spears or blades, could be very lethal, the bow and arrow allowed prehistoric hunters to kill prey from a distance, sometimes without even arousing the prey.

So as you can see, the Native Americans are down an ancient timeline of users of the bow and arrow, their arrow-heads give us a hint into a much deeper time tunnel, stretching far into prehistoric periods.


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