Anthropology Students Learn Thousand-Year-Old Art of Arrowhead Making

April 26, 2017 -- Students in Sue Ruth’s Introduction to Anthropology classes got hands-on experience last week making arrowheads just as their ancestors did 1,000 years ago.
Anthropology Students Learn Thousand-Year-Old Art of Arrowhead Making

Apr 26, 2017

Anthropologist Ron Fields from the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument near Mountainair stopped by the Westside Campus to share with the students how early peoples of New Mexico – and elsewhere – made their arrowheads used in hunting big game.

“The students learned that making stone tools is surprisingly difficult and that our ancestors were knowledgeable and highly skilled,” Ruth said

The students made their arrow points using obsidian, a volcanic glass rock that is very sharp and hard. Just like the early hunters, they took a larger rock, called a hammer stone, and flaked the obsidian. Then they used a copper-tipped tool to pressure flake – press the obsidian flakes into pointed edges and into the shape of an arrow

After making the arrows, the students wrote reports on their accomplishments and were excited about having the hands-on tool-making experience.


“While the main point of the lesson was to teach about experimental archaeology, I also learned quite a bit about how to identify archaeology sites,” said Keily McDaniel., a dual-credit student. “We had seen some flake samples in class, but physically seeing what the flakes looked like when they first flew off your point was amazing.”

CNM student Bibani Porco noted, “Patience is the number one thing you have to have in order to be successful in making stone tools. I say this because I think that a lot of times you have to have patience not only with yourself but with the stone as well.”