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Identifying Fake Arrowheads: Expert Tips & Techniques

Native Americans initially came to North America thousands of years ago, and many old artifacts can be found buried or half-buried throughout the continent. Arrowheads are among the most popular items that amateurs, archaeologists, and serious collectors collect. 

To collect arrowheads successfully, you must learn to differentiate real ones from fakes. Dishonest sellers have been known to trick buyers by selling counterfeit arrowheads, so it’s important to be knowledgeable and careful when purchasing.

Fortunately, there are techniques to recognize an authentic arrowhead to prevent buying a counterfeit. Here are the following:

Consider the Location

The location where the arrowhead was found can give clues to its authenticity. If the arrowhead is found in an area where Native Americans lived, hunted, or traveled, it is more likely to be genuine. You may want to research the history of the area to verify if Native Americans were known to inhabit it.

Identify the Materials Used to Make Arrowheads

This is useful, especially if you need to know where the arrowhead was discovered. The materials used to make these arrowheads were typically found only in specific places and were employed by specific tribes, such as Native American Indians living during the Stone Age. During that period, most arrowheads were constructed of stone. 

Arrowheads are typically formed from fine-grained rocks such as quartzite, chert, flint, or obsidian. An arrowhead is created by eliminating extra rock through striking, commonly known as percussion cutting or flintknapping. This is accomplished by hitting the arrowhead rock with a less-flaky stone.

Examine the Surface

Genuine arrowheads have flake scars where chunks of rock are struck away. These scars are usually curved but may be smoothed if the arrowhead is ancient. If so, use a magnifying glass to study the arrowhead’s surface. If the arrowhead has modest slopes, it was most likely made utilizing the percussion method.

Study Its Shape

The shape of the arrowhead can also provide a clue to its authenticity. Authentic arrowheads tend to have a symmetrical and well-proportioned shape. They are usually triangular or diamond-shaped, with a pointed end and a wider base where it would be attached to the arrow shaft. Fakes may have uneven shapes or irregular edges.

Consider Its Configuration

The configuration of the arrowhead, such as its size and weight, can also be an indicator of authenticity. Genuine arrowheads usually have a consistent thickness and weight. Fakes may be too light or too heavy for their size and have uneven thicknesses or irregular edges.

Check Its Attributes

Genuine arrowheads may have ridges or notches carved into the base to help secure them to the arrow shaft. Fakes may lack these features. Additionally, if the arrowhead has a glossy or polished surface, it is likely a fake. Genuine arrowheads typically have a rough surface due to the percussion cutting method used to create them.

Check Whether It’s Re-Sharpened

Authentic arrowheads usually have a sharp edge on each side of the point, while fakes may have only one sharp edge or a blunt edge. Additionally, genuine arrowheads are unlikely to show signs of re-sharpening, while fakes may have uneven edges or additional chips from attempts at re-sharpening.

Final Thoughts

Identifying fake arrowheads requires knowledge, observation, and careful examination. It is crucial to be cautious when purchasing arrowheads, as unscrupulous sellers may attempt to pass off fakes as genuine artifacts. By following the expert tips and techniques outlined in this guide, collectors, archaeologists, and enthusiasts can enhance their ability to recognize and differentiate between authentic arrowheads and counterfeit replicas.

Looking to buy or sell ancient artifacts? Look no further! At Heartland Artifacts, we specialize in discovering, buying, and selling genuine arrowheads. We are the trusted name in the artifact auction industry, with a growing audience. Get in touch with us now!