Folsom Projectile Technology: An Experiment in Design, Effectiveness, and Efficiency

Author(s): David A Hunzicker

Year: 2008


J. Whittaker: Used 25 F points replicated by Patten (80 counting reuse after damage and reshaping), hafted 5 ways, fired with crossbow at 30-35 m/s perpendicularly into beef carcass ribs. Foreshafts on 220 cm, 240 gm shafts to simulate atlatl. Fluting helps hafting - easier to fit convex foreshaft notch interior to flute surface than usual concave notch interior to lenticular point, but labor intensive. Hafted to full length of flutes.

Foreshaft types all performed similarly regarding break types. Break types: snap 30%, crush 21%, edge damage 15%, burination 12%, impact flute 8%, longitudinal split 3%, complex + snap 11%. Foreshafts rated on manufacture cost, pentration, durability, and point preservation. Of 108 shots, 32% between ribs to lethal depth, 42% hit rib but still lethal depth, 26% failed to penetrate 40 cm (judged as lethal). The 73 rib impacts damaged 73 pts (18 destroyed), 18 foreshafts, and 3 mainshafts - foreshafting protects main shaft. Hafting protected point - most damage to tip, point could be rejuvenated as in Ahler + Geib model = highly maintainable. 39% of shots minor damage, 32% no damage, 12% major damage, 17% total destruction of point. Average survival of 4.6 shots. Fragment frequency compared with archaeological finds. Rejuvenation index based on length reduction allows assessment of relative numbers of uses of archaeological assemblage points, then 75% lethality rate allows estimate of number of kills represented [as he notes, this is getting rather far from evidence; too many intervening variables of technology and human skill, eg accurate hits, experiment was not with atlatl etc].

Cite this Record

Folsom Projectile Technology: An Experiment in Design, Effectiveness, and Efficiency. David A Hunzicker. Plains Anthropologist. 53 (207): 291-311. 2008 ( tDAR id: 423335)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Atlatl Hunting Weapon

Geographic Keywords

Temporal Keywords

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): 10146


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