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Archaeological, experimental and mathematical evidence supporting the use of the atlatl as a primary big game procurement weapon of prehistoric Americas

Author(s): William R Perkins ; David Wescott

Year: 2000

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Summary

J. Whittaker: “Atlatl is not a spear thrower, it is a dart launcher.” – requires flex of dart to spring off hook. [Unexplained concept of oscillations invoked too.] Flexing force proportional to length of dart, shorter requires less, thus needs smaller point. Most efficient is L Dart = L Atlatl x Pi, best at middle ranges, so shorter for closer, longer atlatl for longer distance. Archaeological evidence of multiple lengths from rock art [not reliable]. Flexible atlatl adds efficiency, but hard to adjust by changing flex or length. Atlatl weight allows adjustment by influencing flex [contradictory], function same as dart point. Archaeological evidence and experiments show atlatl effective as hunting weapon. Eskimo use short, rigid harpoon thrower, not real atlatl. Eskimo effective at ranges less than 15 m, atlatl dart oscillation means it’s not [not true]. [Perkins doesn’t explain his physics well, and I think is incorrect in many assertions.]


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Cite this Record

Archaeological, experimental and mathematical evidence supporting the use of the atlatl as a primary big game procurement weapon of prehistoric Americas. William R Perkins, David Wescott. Bulletin of Primitive Technology. 20: 69-72. 2000 ( tDAR id: 419552)


Keywords

General
Atlatl Hunting Weapon


Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): EXARC Experimental Archaeology Collection Manager


Record Identifiers

ExArc Id(s): 5743

Notes

Rights & Attribution: The information in this record was originally compiled by Dr. Roeland Paardekooper, EXARC Director.


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America