Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (71 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Sean M Rafferty

Committee Members

Christina B Rieth


elliptical Fourier analysis, geometric morphometrics, lithic analysis, Northeastern North America, typology, Stone implements, Projectile points

Subject Categories

History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


Borrowed from the field of biology, geometric morphometric analysis has been recently applied to lithic assemblages with great success. This paper discusses the results of a 2D morphometric analysis of triangle points from the Mohawk Valley, New York, the staple point form of the late pre-contact period. This morphometric approach, which uses outline data extracted from high-resolution photos of the projectile points, leverages multivariate statistical analysis to visualize intra-type variation present in the collection. Change in shape (via length-width ratios) has been previously documented for this collection, but this new application of morphometrics results is a more nuanced look into the nature of change through time than that provided by traditional caliper-based methods. The result is a high-resolution examination of morphological variability that is able to demonstrate a bimodal distribution of types that conforms to the traditional typological classification system present in the region, that which archaeologists have qualitatively known but have thus far been unable to quantitatively demonstrate. As well, intra-type variability through time is explored and results demonstrate a pattern of increasing variability consistent with the array of sociopolitical changes that take place through the contact and into the historic periods. This study presents an example of an alternative technique that offsets the inherent drawbacks of coarse-grained typological approaches to projectile point characterization.