This “razor sharp” discovery points to new evidence of America’s earliest encounters with Asia.

Archaeologists in Idaho have unearthed 13 projectile points that date back roughly 15,700 years — making them the oldest weapon heads ever documented in the Americas, according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

Similar stone points found at the same site, on traditional Nez Percé land, are still about 2,300 years younger than this latest cache of weapon heads.

“These discoveries add very important details about what the archaeological record of the earliest peoples of the Americas looks like,” said Oregon State University professor Loren Davis, who led the recent dig that unearthed the “razor sharp” weapon heads.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘We think that people were here in the Americas 16,000 years ago.’ It’s another thing to measure it by finding well-made artifacts they left behind,” added Davis, whose research previously identified tool fragments and pieces of bone from the same era.

Despite their small size, scientists say these dart-like weapon heads were “deadly.”
Loren Davis / SWNS

All told, the team’s excavation at Cooper’s Ferry, near the Salmon River, has uncovered over 65,000 artifacts.

The finely honed darts are also strikingly similar to those seen in Hokkaido, Japan, dating from 16,000 to 20,000 years ago, Davis noted — adding intrigue to the hypothesis that ice age peoples of North America and Northeast Asia met much sooner than we can yet prove.

“By comparing these points with other sites of the same age and older, we can infer the spatial extents of social networks where this technological knowledge was shared between peoples,” said Davis.

Overview of the Cooper’s Ferry site in the lower Salmon River canyon of
An overview of the Cooper’s Ferry site in the lower Salmon River canyon of western Idaho.

Environmental map of the Cooper’s Ferry site.


And despite their small size, with each dart tip no more than two inches long, scientists say these weapon heads were “deadly” in a skilled hunter’s hands.

“Smaller projectile points mounted on darts will penetrate deeply and cause tremendous internal damage,” Davis explained. “You can hunt any animal we know about with weapons like these.”