Atlatl club throws spears at competition

An atlatl is one of the first tools made by mankind. It allowed early man to throw a spear further and with greater force than using his arm without the extension. It’s a stick that is a couple feet long. The hunter would hold one end, the other end has a peg on it that attaches to the back of a short spear.

“There are several colleges with atlatl teams — usually associated with archeology departments,” said Gregory Vogel, assistant professor of anthropology. “As an archeologist, I’m interested in prehistoric technologies… Atlatl use goes back tens of thousands of years. It’s unclear whether the invention of the atlatl occurred independently in different cultures or was passed on from one culture to the other.”

The burgeoning SIUE atlatl team meets every other week. Students can check out the equipment to practice on their own.

Vogel says the team hopes to compete against other colleges in the future. There’s even a World Atlatl Association that sets up targets and a scoring system for competition.

Vogel said every continent had atlatls, but that in most cultures they were replaced with the bow and arrow. Some cultures like the Aztecs and the Arctic cultures used atlatls along with bows and arrows, even into historic times.

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Filed Under: Anthropology


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