Experiments in the function and performance of the weighted atlatl

  title={Experiments in the function and performance of the weighted atlatl},
  author={Anan W. Raymond},
  journal={World Archaeology},
Abstract The atlatl (or spearthrower) has been used on one continent or another for at least 13,000 years, making it one of the most pervasive weapons in human history. Yet, anthropologists disagree onhow to wield an atlatl, and about the purpose of stone weights often attached to prehistoric examples of this weapon in North America. This paper briefly reviews the contributions and oversights of previous experiments and models on the function of atlatls and atlatl weights. I conducted three new… 

Figures from this paper

Sticks with Stones: An Experimental Test of the Effects of the Atlatl Weight on Atlatl Mechanics

Statistical analyses of data from 350 mechanized launches indicate that compared to the unweighted atlatl, the weighted atLatl typically has a lower range but greater precision, when all variables except the presence/absence of the at latl weight are held constant.

Atlatl Dart Velocity: Accurate Measurements and Implications for Paleoindian and Archaic Archaeology

ABSTRACT Thrusting spears, hand-thrown javelins, and atlatls are all suggested as weapons used by Paleo hunters to bring down Pleistocene megafauna. Before we can distinguish between weapons in

Weapon trials: the atlatl and experiments in hunting technology

, edited by Jeff Ferguson, in prep. One of my favorite bits of archaeological jargon is the description of stone projectile points as part of “complex projectile delivery systems” (Christenson 1986).

Dart and Arrow Points on the Columbia Plateau of Western North America

The timing of the bow and arrow's introduction, spread, and replacement of the atlatl is an important research question in North American prehistory. Although regional archaeologists have not focused

Levers, Not Springs: How a Spearthrower Works and Why It Matters

A spearthrower, or atlatl, works as a lever to propel a light spear or dart, but there are still alternative theories about the mechanical principles. Howard proposed that atlatls work by extending

The History and Development of Projectile Technology Research

Projectile technology refers to launched weapons used in both hunting and warfare. In the present context, analyses are limited to discussion of spears, spearthrowers, arrows, and bows. Thrusting


Abstract Southwestern archaeologists typically believe that the bow and arrow were introduced into the North American Southwest around AD 500, spread in popularity, and completely replaced the atlatl

The Adoption of the Bow and Arrow: A Model Based on Experimental Performance Characteristics

  • S. Tomka
  • Environmental Science
    American Antiquity
  • 2013
Abstract The timing of the arrival of the bow and arrow in the New World and reasons for its adoption have long been discussed by archaeologists. It typically has been assumed that the bow and arrow

Maya Use And Prevalence Of The Atlatl: Projectile Point Classification Function Analysis From Chichen Itza, Tikal, And Caracol

Multiple scholars have briefly discussed the Maya use of the atlatl. Yet, there has never been a decisive encompassing discussion of prevalence and use of the atlatl in the Maya region with multiple

Dynamics of spear throwing

The spear thrower (atlatl) is a hunting weapon with very ancient origins. It is a lever that enables wrist rotation to make a substantial increase in the velocity of a thrown spear. A model for



Atlatl Function: Comments on Howard’s Views

In a recent article, Howard (1976) has defended his earlier opinion (Howard 1974) that the main function of the atlatl is to impart greater energy to the spear by extending the time of force

Experiments in the Use of Atlatl Weights

Abstract Evidence is supplied that the weights often attached to atlatls do not add to the force of the dart. An experiment was made with a copy of the atlatl with stone weight from Baylor Rock

Another Great Basin Atlatl with Dart Foreshafts and other Artifacts: Implications and Ramifications

The purpose of this paper then is to add new data on yet another distinctive Great Basin atlatl with attached weight and associated dart foreshafts, one of which still has a stone point attached to

A New Approach to the Significance of the “Weighted” Spear Thrower

Many archaeologists continue to assume that spear thrower adjuncts were intended to serve some practical purpose related to the performance of the weapon despite the inconclusive results of the

An Atlatl from the Baylor Rock Shelter, Culberson County, Texas

During the early spring of 1938, a collector from Van Horn, Gilbert Monk, carried on superficial excavations at the Baylor Rock Shelter twelve miles north of Van Horn in Culberson County, Texas. His

The Atlatl: Function and Performance

Abstract Popular misconceptions relative to atlatl functions are identified. The manner in which an atlatl functions to increase spear impetus is explained and illustrated. Its performance is tested

Archaeological Evidence for the use of Atlatl Weights in the Northwest

Abstract Wilson Duff's tentative identification of several lower Fraser River artifacts as atlatl weights led the authors to examine 104 whole and fragmentary probable weights from the Northwest.

A Complete Atlatl Dart from Pershing County, Nevada

  • R. Heizer
  • Physics
    New Mexico Anthropologist
  • 1938
An unusually complete example of atlatl dart has recently come to light in Pershing County, Nevada, about eight miles northeast of the famous Lovelock Cave.' In view both of the rarity of complete

Atlatl Weights from Certain Sites on the Northern and Central Great Plains

Abstract This paper begins with a discussion concerning the development of the term "atlatl weight" in archaeological literature. It then proceeds to analyze in detail data relative to 60 atlatl

Projectile Points

Due, I believe, to the lack of a working knowledge of the bow and the atlatl, the tendency with some archaeologists is to date sites by the size of projectile points. In this paper, the writer hopes