Where have all the arrows gone? A cross-cultural comparison of Lowland Maya and Central Ohio arrow use


  • Eric Olson Cuyahoga Community College




warfare; hunting; use-life; data analytics; curation rate; comparative studies


Arrow points are an abundant lithic resource, but exactly how abundant? Recent systematic surveys of the Mayan Lowlands and central Ohio permit a new cross-cultural comparison of arrow use, and factors that may lead to their differing accumulations in the archaeological record. Somewhat surprisingly, Mayan arrow use, at least in terms of recorded frequencies in the archaeological record, is less than that of Central Ohio Late Prehistoric populations. Central Ohio has a much smaller population density than the Yucatan peninsula, so the dearth of arrow points in the latter context is unexpected. There are many factors that may explain the paucity of arrow points in Mayan contexts, when compared to the relatively dense arrow assemblages in Ohio sites. These many factors warrant further research and analysis in both Ohio and Mayan lithic arrow studies. This research presents the results of a preliminary comparative analysis. Several factors likely explain the difference between Ohio and maya arrow frequencies. Given that most arrows in Ohio are found as isolated finds, the most likely explanation is a difference in survey coverage between Ohio and the Mayan Lowlands. The other contributing factors include the relatively short use-life of Ohio arrow points, and the lack of weapon diversity in Ohio. Both factors result in higher usage of arrows, and a higher rate of deposit when compared to the Mayan Lowlands. With the increase in digital archives and records, large-scale comparative studies such as this have the potential to change our collective understanding of warfare, conflict, and tool use by past peoples.

Author Biography

Eric Olson, Cuyahoga Community College

Cuyahoga Community College
11000 W. Pleasant valley Rd
Cleveland, OH 44130
United States of America


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How to Cite

Olson, E. (2024). Where have all the arrows gone? A cross-cultural comparison of Lowland Maya and Central Ohio arrow use. Journal of Lithic Studies, 11(1), 18 p. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.7293