Reinventing the atlatl

Author(s): Arthur Robert Tolley; Jack Barnes

Year: 1979


J. Whittaker: Experiments with lots of variables [controlled and un]: fletched and unfletched darts, lengths 127-232 cm, compound elderberry shaft with hardwood foreshaft, lead points, 10 atlatls of different lengths, some modeled after several ethnographic and archaeological examples, stone weights 27-94 grams, mostly at balance point of atlatl. [All atlatls apparently not flexible.]

Lots of practice over 5 months, 10-60 meters.

High speed filming of throwing action, drawing presented.

Gauge for relative force [not calibrated].

Results: Dart construction more important in distance than length or form of atlatl. Any atlatl >30 cm worked, but not well if <2/3 dart length. Accurate, with practice, to 30 m. Dart flex important [but why is not discussed]. Dart released when atlatl is vertical, contra Howard 1974. Velocity ca 40 m/sec. Weights do not affect distance, or improve control or balance, and don't add either to mass of spear or to its velocity, so they do not add force.

Cite this Record

Reinventing the atlatl. Arthur Robert Tolley, Jack Barnes. Journal of the Steward Anthropological Society. 10 (2): 161-180. 1979 ( tDAR id: 423126)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Atlatl Hunting Weapon

Geographic Keywords

Temporal Keywords
Newest Era

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): EXARC Experimental Archaeology Collection Manager

Record Identifiers

ExArc Id(s): 9916


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