This chert arrowhead is from the Sahara Desert region of North Africa. The artefact is known as a Tilemsi point after sites in the Tilemsi Valley in Mali. They date to ca. 4500-7500 BP, during the Sahara-Sudanese Neolithic period. Tilemsi points were made by creating a stem on the proximal end of a pointed flake using a pressure flaking technique.
Tilemsi points are common on archaeological sites in the southwestern Sahara Desert and Sahel, especially eastern Mauritania and northern Mali. Archaeologists recognise 6 variations in Tilemsi points, based on the prominence of the shoulders and whether the stem is serrated (also known as ‘denticulated’). This point is a ‘Type 1’ variant, with a denticulated stem and clear shoulders. Some archaeologists have proposed that the pointed blanks used for Tilemsi points were struck from bifacial Levallois-like flake cores, and were not struck from blade cores.
Bow-and-arrow technology dates to at least 22,000 BP in North Africa, and the earliest arrowheads were backed microliths. Triangular points-on-blades—with variants known as Ounan or Harif points—were made alongside the more common backed microliths by at least 11,500 BP, and through most of the Capsian phase. The bow-and-arrow was an essential weapon for hunter-and-gatherer groups moving into the Sahara Desert to harvest animals attracted to the lakes and grasslands forming there in the African Humid Period, ca. 5000-14,500 BP.