ATLATLS

Archaeology shows the atlatl to have a crucial role in human history all over the world.  The invention of the spear thrower over 20,000 years ago allowed people to launch projectiles much further and faster than the human arm.  Equipped with this more sophisticated weaponry system, humans could now consider hunting the megafauna of the Ice Age. The first known examples are found in the caves in Europe.  In North America, they have a longer history than the bow.  In fact, most projectile points that are commonly called arrowheads are actually atlatl points.

AtlMike&Tom22
AtlMike&Tom22

Michael and Tom Frank testing atlatl models of the American Southwest deserts and Great Basin regions

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Basketmaker Atlatl Replica/Sand Dune Cave model
Basketmaker Atlatl Replica/Sand Dune Cave model

These examples were based on the archaeology of Sand Dune Cave, Utah. The hallmark of atlatls in the american Southwest was the use of buckskin and sinew wrapped finger grips, and the integral spur.

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Hafted Projectile Point
Hafted Projectile Point

Model of a spear(called dart when thrown with atlatl) from the American Great Basin region

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AtlMike&Tom22
AtlMike&Tom22

Michael and Tom Frank testing atlatl models of the American Southwest deserts and Great Basin regions

press to zoom
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 Atlatl styles from around the world are wonderfully varied, and reflect the environment that they were used in.   The model set below was based on artifacts from the Aztec Culture during the 1500's in Mexico.   It is from their language that we get the name "atlatl" that we now use commonly to describe this technology around the globe.

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The unique characteristics of Central American atlatls is the use of obsidian (volcanic glass) for projectile points, and the use of shell and stone for the finger grips on the throwers.  The original artifact had spondylus shell for grips, and gilded gold on the main shaft.

Atlatls are the specialty of Occoquan Paleotechnics. 

 

We offer atlatl and spear(called darts) replicas from various cultural regions around the world, and from paleo to modern time periods. They are not only for study and historical reference, but they are able to be held and used in the fields as functional models.  This ancestral technology belongs right next to archery in our backyards and competitions, and adds an even deeper connection to the human experience.

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Authentic material atlatl darts are made here with seasoned river cane shafts and fit with obsidian or flint points.   They are fletched with wild turkey feathers,  and wrapped with genuine deer sinew and natural hide glue.

Our specialty here is replicating historical models from different cultures and time periods.  This includes traditional designs from parts of the world where the atlatl is still used, and prehistoric designs based on archaeological finds.  Here are some examples of throwers from around the world, each a reflection of the environment in which they were used.

Atlatl technology is a compound system, and the relationship between the thrower and the spear(dart) is crucial.   Darts refer to flexible shafts which fly properly from the lever of the thrower.   Here are some examples of various projectiles from around the world,  from the lightweight darts of the american southwest, to the heavy harpoons of the polar cultures.

In addition to more strict replicas, we also experiment with art pieces inspired by the archaeology and ethnology.   Here are some examples of functional atlatl technology that can add a traditional touch to our modern sport.