This point type was first named in an unpublished guide to central
Mississippi Valley projectile point types based on examples found at the
Cahokia site and in St. Clair and Madison counties, Illinois.
Other Possible Names or Related Points: Triangular, Fresno,
Sanders Triangular, also called bird points by collectors.
Age: 1,100 to 300 B.P. These points are associated with Late
Woodland cultures and the Mississippian/Oneota Traditions.
Distribution: Madison points are common throughout the
Midwest, concentrated along the Mississippi River basin and Oneota
Description: These are small unnotched triangular points. The
blade edges tend to be straight but may be slightly concave or convex.
Bases may also vary from straight to concave or convex. Madison points
tend to be half as wide as they are long (isosceles triangle), but some
are as wide as they are long (equilateral triangle). Although one of
many commonly called bird points, these are true arrowheads that were
used to hunt game like deer, elk, and buffalo. These points are made of
whatever local lithic materials were available including Prairie du
Chien chert and silicified sandstones from the Upper Mississippi Valley.
The majority of the Madison points at the Late Woodland/Middle
Mississippian village of Aztalan in southeastern Wisconsin, however, are
made of silicified sandstone from west-central Wisconsin. A few quartz
Madison points have also been found in the Upper Mississippi Valley,
having originated in glaciated northern regions. Variations range from
nicely made triangles to simple retouched flakes barely recognizable as
points. In central Wisconsin, Late Woodland Madison points tend to be
serrated and made of silicified sandstone. At Late Woodland (Eastman
phase) sites near Prairie du Chien, only a few points are serrated and
most are made of local chert. At La Crosse Oneota sites, these points
are never serrated and from A.D. 1300 to 1400 were made predominately of
silicified sandstone but thereafter were made from chert. It appears
that late Oneota points are slightly larger.
Experimental replication of arrows such as those found in the Upper
Mississippi Valley indicates that shaft production is a long and
laborious task. In contrast, manufacture of unnotched triangular points
is relatively simple. The absence of notching suggests that these
expedient points were hafted in a fashion that allowed the point to be
detached, staying in the wound, while the shaft may have been retrieved
and retipped. This would have been an effective weapon, where extraction
of the tip may not have been possible by pulling out the shaft.
Length: 1.5–3 cm/0.75–2 in. Width 1.25–2.5 cm/0.5–1 in.
Material: These points are made from a variety of local and
nonlocal materials. In the Upper Mississippi Valley, Madison points are
made of Prairie du Chien chert, Galena chert, Hixton and related
silicified sandstones, and quartz.
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