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The Dunn Point

by Matt Rowe, Curator, Museum of Native American History Bentonville, Arkansas

Originally Published in the Central States Archaeological Journal, Vol.56, No.4, pg.200Originally Published in the Central States Archaeological Journal, Vol.57, No.3, pg.127


The Dunn point was named by Leon Dunn for examples recovered at the Dunn site in Franklin County, eastern Arkansas. It is yet another one of those obscure point types that we don’t see pop up very often, and when it does people will usually end up scratching their head and calling it 5 differ­ent things. Even in the area where this type is fre­quently found, most collectors have no familiarity with them. For years, whenever someone would happen onto one they were simply called a “barbed Gary”. They do highly resemble the Caddoan Gary point, Waubesa and other stemmed points, especially after losing their barbs from extensive resharpening. They are not a common type by any means, but they do seem to have a dedicated following of admiring collectors.

Dunn are a large contracting stemmed knife, of­ten attaining a length of 5 to 6 inches or even lon­ger. The knappers were experts at their craft and fashioned the points from a thin biface that was reduced with random soft percussion. The cross section ranges from flat to elliptical, depending on state of exhaustion. The edge treatment consists of fine pressure flaking and, although rare, some have been found to have very light serrations. The most distinct and identifying trait about the Dunn point is the barbs. These barbs range from short and sharp to very long, sometimes to the bottom of the point. There are two different basal configura­tions found on Dunn points. Type one is the most prevalent and it is identified by a very short, wide, rounded stem and resembles a Gary or Waubesa. Type two has a stem that is longer, narrower, and can be pointed; they are often mistaken for Gary and Table Rock Pointed Stem types. The longer barbs are found more frequently on type one, where they can extend fully to the base of the point. Both types are often found together in groups.

Light gray spicular Barren Fork chert from east­ern Oklahoma seems to be a favored material in making these points. Keokuk, Burlington and oth­er Ozark cherts were also utilized, but to a lesser degree. Although heat-treating the cherts was em­ployed on occasion, it seems to be the exception more than the rule.

Dunn points date to around 1000 B.C. to A.D. 600 and are associated with the Fourche Maline, who are considered to be the ancestors of the Caddoan groups in Oklahoma. The majority of examples have come from Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas, but are also found in Kansas and as far north as central Missouri. As more examples are found and more becomes known about the type, the range may prove to be even larger.”Used by Permission of the Author”
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