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Projectile Points
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Thumbnail image of a Jack's Reef corner notched point.Defining Attributes

The Jack's Reef Corner Notched is a medium-sized corner notched point, broad and thin, often with angular edges.

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The Jack’s Reef Corner Notched point dates to the Middle and Late Woodland periods. Wall et al. (1996) state that the type has been radiocarbon dated between 310 and 955 AD (approximately 400-1000 AD in calendar years).  Justice (1987:217) suggests the type appears in the Northeast around 500 AD and disappears around 1000 to 1200 AD. A radiocarbon date of 1560 +/- 25 BP (488 AD calendar) came from a Jack’s Reef midden at the Upper Ridge site on the Virginia Eastern Shore, and the nearby Mockhorn #12 site produced similar dates (Lowery 2013).  Custer (1996a) notes that radiocarbon dates from the Island Field site in Delaware, as well as elsewhere in the region, indicate a range of 600 to 900 AD (650-975 AD in calendar years).  A similar notched point found by Coe (1995) at the Town Creek Mound in North Carolina dates to 1000 to 1300 AD.  In general, the dates for Jack’s Reef points seem to be earlier in the Northeast than they are farther to the south and west.


Blade:  The blade is flat, thin, and broad, with excurvate or angular edges.  It generally has a pentagonal or ovoid shape.

Haft Element:  The base is flared and straight, and is sometimes lightly ground.  The stem is corner notched, and the notches are typically narrow and deep.  Barbs are small to large, and thin and sharp. 

Size:  Length ranges from 25 to 57 mm, although occasional larger specimens (up to 100 mm) have been found (Ritchie 1971).  Typical width is 19 to 43 mm.  Maximum thickness ranges from 5 to 6 mm.

Technique of manufacture:  Carefully-controlled pressure flaking on a thin primary flake.

Material: In a sample of 133 Jack’s Reef Corner Notched and Pentagonal points from the lower Patuxent drainage, Steponaitis (1980) reported that 53% were quartz, followed by rhyolite (28%), quartzite (11%), chert (5%), argillite (2%), and jasper (1%).  In the Hagerstown Valley, 52% of 54 Jack’s Reef Corner Notched-like points were chert, while 46% were rhyolite and 2% jasper (Stewart 1980). Four of the six Jack’s Reef Corner Notched points recorded during the Monocacy River drainage survey were quartz, while two were chert (Kavanagh 1982).  Jasper and chert Jack’s Reef points predominate in the middle Potomac River Valley, but quartzite and rhyolite sometimes occur (Hranicky 2002).  In Delaware, 99% of Jack’s Reef points are jasper (Custer 1996a), and a pronounced preference for jasper has been noted throughout the Delmarva Peninsula (Lowery 2013).


Jack’s Reef Corner Notched and Jack’s Reef Pentagonal are related and contemporary points.  They are found across the Northeast, the eastern Great Lakes, and the Upper South (Justice 1987).  Lowery (2013) suggests Jack’s Reef cultures may have originated along the Atlantic Coast around 500 AD and spread westward. 

Corner Notched Jack’s Reef points are much rarer than the Pentagonal ones along the Patuxent and lower Potomac drainages.  Steponaitis (1980) recorded 131 Pentagonal points but only 2 Corner Notched ones along the lower Patuxent.  Wanser (1982) noted 13 Pentagonal but no Corner Notched examples among collections from the Zekiah Swamp area along the lower Potomac.  In the middle Potomac Valley, the Pentagonal is the most common (Hranicky 2002).  However, in the Hagerstown Valley, the opposite is true (Stewart 1980).  On the Delmarva Peninsula, some sites, such as Island Field, have a preponderance of Pentagonal points, while others, such as the Riverton site in Wicomico County, are dominated by Corner Notched examples (Lowery 2013).

The Raccoon Notched point is similar to and contemporary with the Jack’s Reef Corner Notched, and may just be a small variant of Jack’s Reef (McConaughy 2013).  It is found from western New York and Pennsylvania to Illinois and the Upper South (Justice 1987).  A notched variety of the Pee Dee Pentagonal point, illustrated by Coe (1995), is very similar to Jack’s Reef Corner Notched.  While Jack’s Reef Corner Notched points can resemble Palmer points in general shape, they do not have the ground bases seen on the Palmers.

Defined in Literature

This type was originally defined by Ritchie (1961, revised 1971), based on the 1947 and 1951 excavations at the Point Peninsula Jack’s Reef site in New York.


Coe 1995; Custer 1996a; Hranicky 2002; Justice 1987; Kavanagh 1982; Lowery 2013; McConaughy 2013; Ritchie 1971; Steponaitis 1980; Stewart 1980; Wall et al. 1996; Wanser 1982

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