Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Conference papers

Transversal arrowheads of the Mesolithic in Brittany: functional approach through a ballistic experiment

Abstract : European Mesolithic has been traditionally defined trough the arrowheads, very often geometrical microliths. Among other technical traditions, trapezoidal bi-truncations are known in different Mesolithic assemblages, such as the Téviecian (Brittany, France). While the use of the symmetrical trapezes as transversal arrowheads is nowadays largely accepted, these bi-truncations have also been subject of various functional debates and experimentations. The present study aims to a better understanding of the functioning of transversal arrowheads armed with trapezoidal bi-truncations documented in teviecian contexts through an experimental perspective. We wonder if the weight of the arrow it's a critical parameter in the fly and the penetration of these arrows. Moreover, we wonder if the impact wears of the trapezoidal bi-truncations of Beg-er-Vil (Quiberon, France) can allow us to asses more details of the function of these arrows during the Mesolithic. An analytical experimentation was implemented to answer these questions. 50 trapezoidal bi-truncations were reproduced, armed as transversal arrow-heads in 2 types of wood shafts, and thrown into a Sus scrofa corpse, previously beaten, with a 52 lb. longbow. Lately, the impact wears of the experimental bi-truncations were analyzed and compared with those observed in the Beg-er-Vil corpus. In particular, the initiation of the fractures (bending or cone initiation) was considered as a proxy to evaluate the toughness of the impacted matter. The results of these experimental work and the analysis of the archaeological material has allowed to increase the knowledge about the ecological and technical practices of the Holocene hunter-gatherers in the European Atlantic coastline, and to understand how these groups interact with their environment, both terrestrial and marine.
Document type :
Conference papers
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Catherine Gorlini <>
Submitted on : Monday, April 8, 2019 - 1:55:20 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 11:43:26 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-02092712, version 1


Jorge Calvo Gómez, Grégor Marchand, David Cuenca-Solana. Transversal arrowheads of the Mesolithic in Brittany: functional approach through a ballistic experiment. Exploring the World’s Prehistory, XVIIIe congrès mondial de l’Union internationale des sciences préhistoriques et protohistoriques (UISPP), Union internationale des sciences préhistoriques et protohistoriques (UISPP), Jun 2018, Paris, France. ⟨hal-02092712⟩



Record views