This chert Sloan Dalton point was found in a cache of 13 points at the Olive Branch site near Thebes, Illinois, dating to ca. 9200-10,700 BP. The size, material, workmanship, and context of Sloan Dalton points suggest that they were non-utilitarian ‘prestige’ items exchanged between groups to create and mediate social alliances.
The model was made of an epoxy cast from lithiccastinglab.com.
The Dalton Complex arose during the subsistence and technological transition that occurred from the Paleoindian period to the Early Archaic period. Many archaeologists consider the Dalton Complex as ‘Late Paleoindian’ in character, whereas other researchers consider Dalton to be the first Early Archaic culture. It dates to about the same period as Late Paleoindian cultures of the Great Plains. In the preceding Clovis period, hunter-gatherers ranged long distances in search of large game, but during the Dalton period, bounded territories developed as populations rose. Population growth was possible because the post-glacial Holocene climate began to ameliorate, and greater rainfall led to richer subsistence resources. Big game was less important in the Dalton diet, and the stone technology shifted to relatively smaller points without flutes. As the landscape was partitioned and strong territories developed, variations in point styles arose between regions.
Sloan Dalton points are named for a Dalton cemetery discovered at the Sloan site in the Cache River basin or northeastern Arkansas. This cemetery is the the oldest in the New World, and exceptionally well-made Dalton points were discovered at the site. Sloan Dalton points are much larger than the utilitarian Dalton variants and show exceptionally skilled manufacture. The early stages were accomplished by percussion thinning, followed by collateral pressure flaking that produced a prominent ridge down the centre of each face. The points were sometimes buried together in caches, and they rarely show evidence that they were used or resharpened. All Sloan Dalton points are made of stone from the Burlington chert quarries in Illinois, which suggests that this stone possessed special cultural significance to Dalton people. Archaeologists have proposed that Sloan Daltons were ‘ritually charged’ and were exchanged between neighbouring groups to cement the social alliances which had arisen to reduce the likelihood of conflict as populations rose. The Olive Branch site in Illinois was a major Dalton-era village, perhaps occupied year-round. The density of material there, combined with caches of Sloan Dalton points and other items, suggests that it may have served as an ‘aggregation’ site, where different groups came together for ritual and exchange.