Design and function of lowe and sawmill points from the preceramic period of Belize

W. James Stemp, Jaime J. Awe, Keith M. Prufer, Christophe G.B. Helmke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


To date, 81 stemmed and barbed preceramic (Archaic) points (8000-900 B.C.) have been identified in Belize. Fifty-four are Lowe points; 21 are Sawmill points. Four more are provisionally classified as Allspice and two as Ya'axche' points. These stemmed bifaces are frequently beveled on alternate-opposite edges and demonstrate variable degrees of resharpening and reworking, which affects blade shape and tool size. Numerous functions have been attributed to these artifacts; specifically, they have been called spear points, dart points, harpoons, and knives. Metric data from these bifaces, limited macrowear and microwear analyses, and design features, such as barbs and alternate-opposite edge beveling, have been used to interpret likely tool functions. Results suggest that Lowe points were affixed to throwing/thrusting spears and also served as knives, whereas the Sawmill points were used as spear-thrower dart points and as knives. New dating information suggests that alternate-opposite edge beveling and consequently beveled bifaces may be much older than 2500-1900 B.C., which is the date currently assigned to these specimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-299
Number of pages21
JournalLatin American Antiquity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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