Story and photos credit Lithics Casting Lab


The nine Dalton points pictured above are reported to have been found several years ago by Ed Smith in Jackson county, Missouri. Another Dalton point was also found with this cache making a total number of ten points. The other point was broken and not kept with this main collection of the points.


    This is the third longest point in the cache. Some of the pressure flaking is very uniform and parallel. This point measures 5 5/8 inches (14.2cm) long.

   All of the Dalton points in this cache are made of white Burlington chert. Many Dalton caches seem to be made of this material. But some caches are made of other materials such as the two caches from the Olive Branch site that were made of black Pitkin chert.


   This nicely flaked Dalton point has several pressure flakes that run parallel to each other. The base is also well thinned. This point measures 4 1/2 inches (11.4cm) long.

  These Dalton points range in size from 4 7/16 inches (11.2cm) for the smallest to 6 inches (15.2cm) long for the longest. They are all above the average size for Dalton points that have been found on sites in Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois. Daltons have been found as small as under 1 inch (2.5cm) long to as large as 15 inches (38.1cm) long.


   This Dalton point is the longest one in the cache. The base contracts slightly giving it the appearance of having slight shoulders. This point measures 6 inches (15.2cm) long.

   Most Dalton points are small and were used as projectile points on the ends of darts or spears. Longer points were used as knives that were resharpened by beveling the blade edges. The largest Dalton points, measuring 9 to 15 inches (22.9cm to 38.1cm) long  were most probably used as grave offerings.

   This is the fourth longest point in the cache. It measures 5 1/2 inches (14.cm) long.

   A similar cache of Dalton points were found on the Olive Branch site in southern Illinois by Bob Beasley. Thirteen points were found in that group. They are also made of white Burlington chert and are similar in style.
    Evidence from excavated Dalton graves on the Sloan site shows that Dalton caches are likely mortuary offerings and were once buried with the dead.

​​Dalton Period

By Julie E. Morrow,

Arkansas Archaeological Survey

The Dalton Period extends from 10,500 to 9,900 radiocarbon years ago (circa 8500 to 7900 BC), during which there existed a culture of ancient Native American hunter-gatherers (referred to as the Dalton people) who made a distinctive set of stone tools that are today found at sites across the middle of the United States.

The name “Dalton” was first used in 1948 to refer to a style of chipped stone projectile point/knife. The Dalton point was named after Judge Sidna Poage Dalton, who had found numerous Dalton sites in central Missouri.

Evidence of the Dalton culture has been found throughout the Mississippi River Valley. As Dalton points were found in different regions of the mid-continent, they were given different names, such as Holland, Meserve, Greenbrier, Colbert, Hardaway, and Breckenridge. Excavations at the Brand and Sloan sites and surface collections of many other sites in northeast Arkansas provide a wealth of information about the Dalton culture in northeast Arkansas.

The internationally famous Sloan site in Greene County is a Dalton Period cemetery and the oldest documented cemetery in the western hemisphere. Studies of stone tools from Arkansas’s Dalton sites have provided many insights into the lives of these hunter-gatherers during the transition from the last ice age to the modern era.

The Dalton Period occurred during the transition from the last ice age to the beginning of the Holocene (Recent) age. By the beginning of the Dalton Period, much of the landscape in Arkansas was covered in trees and grasses, and the sandy braided stream terraces of the Mississippi Delta were dominated by oak and hickory forests.

During the Dalton period, sugar maple, hornbeam, beech, and walnut covered the uplands, and ash, bald cypress, and other temperate hardwoods grew along sloughs and terraces in the bottomlands. Dalton people probably had knowledge of a wide range of plant species that were edible or could be used as medicines.

Some of the important native plants include persimmon, greenbrier, pokeweed, cattail, amaranth, dock, lamb’s quarters, wild onion, and a wide variety of berries, fruits, and nuts.

Based on the density of Dalton artifacts and sites, Arkansas was probably a very rich hunting and fishing ground during the Dalton period: elk, bear, white-tailed deer, raccoon, rabbit, squirrels, and other small mammals were abundant. Although direct evidence is lacking, it is likely that birds, waterfowl, amphibians, reptiles, and fish would have been excellent sources of protein and relatively easy to capture, especially in the Delta region of the Mississippi River Valley.

Dalton people continued using most of the stone tool types that their Paleoindian ancestors used: spear points that also served as cutting tools, as well as flake tools (end scrapers, side scrapers, and gravers) usually made from flint and shaped by flaking pieces off a larger core.

Several tools that first appear during the Dalton period include the chipped stone drill/awl and adze, the shaft abrader, and edge-abraded cobbles. The most distinctive item in the Dalton stone toolkit, the Dalton point, was used not only to penetrate game like white tailed deer but also to cut and saw meat, hide, wood, and other materials.

Dalton points were generally lanceolate (leaf-shaped) in outline. The blade portion of the point was sometimes serrated, similar to the modern bread knife. The bottom, or haft, portion of the Dalton point was made to be concave at the base and tapered so that it would fit into a handle or a spear shaft.

As Dalton points were re-sharpened, they began to exhibit an obvious bevel on opposing faces of the blade. This ingenious re-sharpening technique extended the life of the Dalton spear/knife. Archaeologists have documented the specific steps taken in manufacturing and maintaining Dalton spear points and the recycling of Dalton points into other tools, such as burins, end scrapers, and perforators/drills.

The Dalton adze is the earliest known heavy-duty woodworking tool in the archaeological record for North America. Initially referred to as “turtleback scrapers” because of their shape—flat on the bottom and humpbacked on the top—Dalton adzes may have been hafted like modern adzes, in which the cutting blade is perpendicular to the haft or handle.

By comparing the wear traces caused by the use of modern replica adzes and wear traces that remain on ancient adzes, researchers have demonstrated that those from the Sloan site were used to chop and cut charred wood. This suggests that Dalton people could have made dugout canoes to travel the local rivers of the middle of the United States. Adzes are also useful for chopping down trees, making grave markers, house posts, wooden containers, as well as scraping and stretching hides.

Cobbles of quartzite and other rock types were used as anvils for cracking open nuts, splitting small chert cobbles, and preparing the edges of stone tools. Sandstone was the preferred material for spear shaft abraders. Small exhausted chert cores called pièces esquillés (scaled pieces) were used to peck grooves or circular pockets into less resistant rocks to form such tools as the shaft abrader and anvil. Bone tools are very rarely recovered from Dalton period archaeological deposits. A single-eyed needle made of bone was recovered from Graham Cave in Missouri. Dalton people likely used a wide variety of perishable materials (bone, plant, hide, sinew), but these are very rare finds in most archaeological contexts.

Subsistence technology includes all of the material resources and knowledge involved in gathering and preparing the materials necessary to make clothing, shelter, and food. Dalton subsistence involved a great variety of perishable materials that typically do not survive in the archaeological record.

Direct evidence includes food remains associated with artifacts, residues on tools, and isotopic ratios of food types in human skeletal tissue. Indirect evidence includes the shape and size of the tools themselves, residues on the tools, and wear traces on tools from their use. From the stone tools they left behind, it is apparent that Dalton people spent their time hunting and working wood and hides into shelters and clothing, although the actual shelters or clothing have not yet been discovered.

To date, there have been no Dalton sites excavated in Arkansas with preserved animal or plant remains, and chemical analyses of skeletal remains from the Sloan site was not possible due to the poorly preserved nature of bone. Deer, nuts, waterfowl, fish, turkey, small mammals (rabbits, squirrels, and raccoon), nuts, berries, and fruits were available in Arkansas and were probably important dietary resources for Dalton Period communities.

Although such evidence is lacking in Arkansas, deposits from the Big Eddy site in Missouri and Dust Cave in Alabama suggest that the Dalton diet did include plant foods. Recent evidence from one archaeological site in Missouri suggests that nuts, berries, and possibly even some species of seeds were likely consumed during the Dalton period.

Over 750 Dalton sites have been recorded in northeast Arkansas alone. The few most thoroughly investigated sites in Arkansas include the Brand site in Poinsett County and the Sloan site in Greene County. One model suggests that Dalton people may have concentrated their hunting and gathering activities within circumscribed areas west of Crowley’s Ridge.

Dan and Phyllis Morse hypothesize that Dalton settlements include base settlements, food gathering camps, quarries, and cemeteries. They called these circumscribed areas “apparent band territories.” Dalton people probably journeyed to habitats with such resources as stone for making tools; organic materials for clothing, footwear, and containers; and plant resources that furnished essential fats, vitamins, and minerals—all essential for survival. Dalton groups likely planned specific rendezvous to find sexual partners, trade, and communicate skills and accomplishments.

The Brand site is a hunting camp where people scraped hides, worked wood into tool handles and other objects, and refurbished their stone toolkits. The Lace site, located in the center of the L’Anguille River basin in Poinsett County, may have been a large base camp. It has been mostly destroyed by modern agricultural practices.

The Sloan site, located in the Cache River Basin, was a place that Dalton groups visited to bury their dead, along with tools of their own tool kits or perhaps heirlooms received from relatives. Although other Dalton cemeteries and large base camps probably exist, the majority of recorded Dalton sites appear to be temporary camps set up for gathering and/or processing resources.

The stone sources used to make Dalton tools include Crowley’s Ridge chert and many stones from the Ozarks and along the Ozark escarpment. The distribution of stone tools made of different chert types provides clues to the movements of Dalton people.

The Sloan site consisted of a series of tree-covered sand dunes that had been partially cleared and cultivated at the time it was first documented in 1968. Erosion led to the discovery of Dalton artifacts by relic collectors. In 1974, the site was excavated in order to prevent further loss of artifacts and information. Conditions at the site did not preserve human bone.

The majority of tiny bone fragments were identified as unquestionably human; none were identified as non-human. The variation in thickness of human skull fragments indicates that both juveniles and adults were buried in the Sloan cemetery. A total of 439 artifacts in small clusters were found during the month-long excavation.

The majority of grave goods were Dalton points and adzes. Tools for scraping, engraving or incising, hammering, pecking, polishing and cutting, as well as five small lumps of red ochre and an iron oxide nodule were also recovered. Analysis of the spatial arrangement of human bone fragments and artifact clusters suggests that there were between twenty-eight and thirty graves at the site.

Although the remains of the Dalton period are very limited, we can draw some general conclusions about the culture. Dalton people were the descendants of the Paleoindians based on similarities in technology, settlement, and subsistence strategies, though some of the animals hunted by the Paleoindians—such as the late ice age mammoths and mastodons—were extinct by the time the Dalton culture came into existence.

The invention of the chipped stone adze, apparently by a Dalton person, was the first heavy-duty woodworking tool for felling trees and working wood in North America. The Dalton adze laid the foundation for later groups to alter their environment significantly. Based on the distances between stone sources and campsites where stone tools are deposited, Dalton people generally traveled shorter distances than their

Paleoindian ancestors and greater distances than their descendents. Although much of their time was spent in their daily tasks of procuring materials for subsistence needs, they clearly devoted time for matters other than food, clothing, and shelter. The planned interment of bodies and gave goods at the Sloan site suggests that Dalton people believed in an afterlife and/or possibly a higher power. If such a belief system was in place by 8500 BC, then it likely that it dates to an even earlier age.

Julie E. Morrow

Arkansas Archaeological Survey


January 12th Update scroll half way down the page!!!

FAMOUS CACHE #2 January 2017 Update 


 This article illustrates and describes an important collection of Early Archaic points that were discovered in 1966 in a plowed field in Iowa. The Holland cache has been designated the type points for Holland points. They are interesting for the variation of style they exhibit within a small group of 14 points and the fact that they were probably made by one person.

​     These 14 points were discovered in a plowed field in Henry County, Iowa in 1966 by Warren Holland. They have been designated the type points for Holland points. The cache is interesting for three different point styles that are represented within the cache. Twelve of these points have excurvate blade edges, small shoulders and concave bases and one other point has a straight base instead of a concave base. One of the most interesting points in the cache is the one that does not have any shoulders at all (top row right side). It represents one of the classic forms of a Dalton point, which in this case illustrates a close connection to stemmed and shouldered points. All of these points are made of white Burlington formation chert of varying degrees of quality. They range in size from 4 1/4 inches (10.8 cm) to 5 5/8 inches (14.3 cm) long and from 1 1/8 inches (2.9 cm) to 1 5/16 inches (3.4 cm) wide. The thickness range is from about 7 mm to 8 mm.

   Perino describes the Holland cache points, "Of the 14 points found in the cache, thirteen have shoulders 1 to 2 mm wider than the stems. One has no shoulders being lanceolate in form (top row right side), contracting slightly from the widest point near the center of the blade to the base. It may have had shoulders that were removed in resharpening the point. Ten points are typical and have essentially straight-sided stems. Three points have slightly contracting stems and one point has an expanded stem, only one has a straight basal edge (4th from left). Ten have slightly concave basal edges, 2 to 3 mm deep, and three have moderately concave basal edges 6 mm deep." (Perino 1971)

  These Holland cache points illustrate the three different style variations within the cache. The point on the left is a good example of a typical Holland point. It has excurvate blade edges, slight shoulders, a straight sided stem and a concave base. The point in the middle  is a slight variation. It has a stem that expands towards the base and the base is straight instead of concave. The point on the right is a Dalton point. It has recurved blade edges, a concave base and unlike all the other points in the Holland cache this point has no shoulders. All three points are made of Burlington chert and the longest point in the center measures 5 5/16 inches (13.5 cm) long.

ABOVE:  This is a good example of what might be called a "classic" Holland point. It has excurvate blade edges, slight shoulders, a straight sided stem and a concave base. The over all flaking is fairly random. The edges have very fine pressure flaking with small serrations. This point is made of white Burlington chert and it measures 4 13/15 inches (12.2 cm) long.


ABOVE: This is the longest Holland point in the cache. It has better than average flaking. The flakes are generally in a parallel oblique pattern. The blade edges are excurvate, it has slight shoulders, straight stem edges and a concave base. This point is made of white Burlington chert and it measures 5 5/8 inches (14.3 cm) long


 ABOVE: This picture shows three views of the only Holland point in the cache that has a straight base. All the other Holland points in the Holland cache have concave bases. This point also has an expanding stem and an oblique flaking pattern. It's made of Burlington chert and measures 5 5/16 inches (13.5 cm) long.


ABOVE: This drill or perforator is also reported to have been found by Warren Holland with the Holland cache, but it was never reported or illustrated in any of the published articles about the cache. Other caches of Dalton culture artifacts, such as those found on the Sloan site, also contain points along with various types of tools in the same caches. So it's not surprising that a tool such as this drill would have been discovered in the Holland cache. This drill is made of Burlington chert and it measures 4 7/16 inches (11.2 cm) long.

ABOVE: This is the only point in the Holland cache that does not have shoulders and it's easily identified as a Dalton point. This suggests that the stemmed and shouldered points in the Holland cache represent other forms of Dalton points. This point is made of Burlington chert and it measures 4 9/16 inches (11.6 cm) long.

Warren Holland describes his discovery of the cache as, "I came upon a spear of superb workmanship. While admiring my find, I saw another, then another and within a few minutes I had recovered five spears and two halves from the plowed earth." He then went on to find six more that day, in the same location, that were stacked one upon the other in the bottom of a "dead" furrow. (A "dead" furrow is one in which the dirt is thrown both ways and is therefore deeper than an ordinary plow furrow) He found another point later that year and the last one the following Spring for a total of 14 points.

Mr. Holland described the site as being, "on a field which had yielded very little (artifacts) and showed few signs of occupation." He also described the site location as being, "on a small rise between 1st and 2nd bottom land, on the inside bend of the river (Skunk River)."

The Holland cache is important because it shows a clear connection between some Early Archaic shouldered points to Dalton points. The fact that one Dalton point was found in the cache suggests that the stemmed and shouldered points in the Holland cache are another form of Dalton point. There are very many different types and styles of Dalton points.

  Perino describes Holland points as maybe related to a large contemporary Dalton form called a Sloan point. He describes Holland points as being thin medium to large size lanceolate forms with slight shoulders. He describes the stem edges as being either straight, slightly expanding or contracting with edges that are slightly ground. The basal edge may also be either straight, concave or recurved and the basal corners are sometimes "eared." In-other-words there are also many different styles and forms of Holland points.

Holland points are found in several Midwestern states. The reported distribution area for Holland points is in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. Some of these locations are also where the core concentrations of Dalton points are found, but the distribution area for Dalton points is very much larger than for Holland points.

Caches have proven to be unique opportunities for archaeologists to gain new insight into the social structure of ancient cultures. The earliest examples in North America are Clovis caches, such as the Drake cache, or the Mckinnis cache. Some of the more recent caches belong to the Mississippian period and a couple of these are the Mound 72 caches, and the St. Clair County, Illinois celt cache. Some caches contain exotic materials that were traded into the area from distant locations and show a connection to different people. They can also show an unexpected form variation of an artifact type that was produced by a single individual craftsman. The Holland cache is a good example of this where shouldered points and a Dalton point were found together. The main purpose of caches seems to have been as use as mortuary offerings to the dead.

No one will ever know for sure why someone more than 9,000 years ago buried the Holland cache on what is now a farm field in southeastern Iowa. It was lucky that Warren Holland was able to discover them just at the moment they reappeared on the surface. The finely crafted points in the Holland cache must have been important to the people who made them. Perhaps they were once placed as offerings to someone who had died but now only the stone remains. What we do know for sure is that the Holland cache has added a little more knowledge about a group of people who once lived long ago during the Early Archaic Dalton period.