What is the oldest atlatal?

What is the oldest atlatal?

Thimosabv
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Thimosabv
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January 28th, 2007, 3:07 pm #1

Does anyone know the earliest known design?
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Thudling
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January 28th, 2007, 6:01 pm #2

I *believe* the oldest identified ones are the antler artifacts from Europe, about 18,000 years ago. But the Australians have been using a woomera for an incredible amount of time (estimates are they arrived on the continent 40,000 years ago) and since it is mainly made from wood, the artifact life-span in very short. The oldest in the US is the Lake Winnemucca model from Nevada, I believe that was dated to about 8,000 years ago or so. It only survived because it was in a dry cave.
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PaleoAleo
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January 30th, 2007, 4:28 pm #3

Thimo, most if not all of these older Euopean spear throwers that Thud speaks of were made of antler (primarily reindeer antler I think) and mammoth ivory. You've got to figure that those survived primarily becuase of the material they were made from and the locations (caves) in which they were found.

Some were incredibly fancy designs, and definitely the product of some "evolution" of design - suggesting a much greater age for the "first" of their kind. I'd bet that the earliest spearthrowers/atlatls were made of wood, and they just didn't survive the ravages of time. Heck, I'd bet that these antler/ivory spear throwers were the exception even in their own time, and that those made of wood would have been more common.

Many of the European WAA members make and use replicas of these ancient designs. There are some photos kicking around here of some of these made by my friend, Pascal, from Belgium.

Tom
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the warrior yeti
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January 31st, 2007, 11:09 am #4

So far as dates are concerned, the atlatl which launches flexible darts may have been invented around 20,000 years ago or further back, though the oldest found are from the Magdalenian period there in Europe, 18 to 12,000 years ago. There was an older design that threw heavy stiff spears, the (Baton de Commodant ???), I can't remember how to spell it at all. Anyway it may have been 40,000 years old. I dont think the Australians had the woomera with them when they went onto the continent 40 or 50,000 years ago, but it was probably invented separately there or introduced by more colonizers. -Devin
In farewell, and yet not in farewell, the Master handed me his best bow. "When you shoot with this bow you will feel the spirit of the Master near you. Give it not into the hands of the curious! And when you have passed beyond it, do not lay it up in remembrance! Destroy it, so that nothing remains but a heap of ashes."

Basketmakeratlatl.com
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Thimosabv
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February 8th, 2007, 10:46 pm #5

Thanks.

Is there anyone else with more info???
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Pascal Chauvaux
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February 8th, 2007, 11:59 pm #6

I took part in another atlatl experimentation for the Musee de l'Homme (Paris, France). We used older points called pointes de la Gravette (22,000 before present). Again, we reproduced the same kind of fractures than 450 prehistoric points found in l'Abri Pataud in les Eyzies-de-Tayac (Dordogne). The only problem: no evidence of atlatl use during this period...
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the warrior yeti
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February 9th, 2007, 10:57 am #7

Of course if you say that this evidence points to atlatl use during the period then people are going to jump all over you and call you names. Well what ever. Probably the only way we could ever tell for certain is if someone invents a time machine. So yea... I'll get right on that.
In farewell, and yet not in farewell, the Master handed me his best bow. "When you shoot with this bow you will feel the spirit of the Master near you. Give it not into the hands of the curious! And when you have passed beyond it, do not lay it up in remembrance! Destroy it, so that nothing remains but a heap of ashes."

Basketmakeratlatl.com
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Thudling
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February 9th, 2007, 3:54 pm #8

Yeah, I was in contact once with a professor who taught a class on African history/archaology who included information about the atlatl. I emailed him because I had never heard any of that, and he admitted there was no evidence beyond the spear point size, so I *still* can't tell people it was used there! -Daryl
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PaleoAleo
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February 9th, 2007, 4:54 pm #9

Pascal, are there antler atlatl spurs/hooks associated with Soutrean?

Tom

P.S., it's fantastic to have you here posting my friend!
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Thimosabv
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February 9th, 2007, 10:48 pm #10

"it's fantastic to have you here posting my friend"


Yes indeed.
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E Zeh
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February 10th, 2007, 12:28 am #11

I seem to remember reading an article of an atlatl that was found in a cave some where in Europe that was dated to 40,000 to 50,000 B.C. I will try and find the article tomorrow. I just read an article out of Primative Archery last week titled "The Roots of Primative Archery" In there it states that "The bow and arrow go back at least 25,000 years." I didn't think the bow went that far back! but then again, I don't no nothing about bow history except that the Egyptians were using them!
Erich
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Lantana
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August 7th, 2014, 9:25 am #12

In south west NSW in Australia at Lake Mungo a skeleton was found dated to 42,000 pb.  'Another feature of this skeleton was the presence of a condition called woomera elbow or atlatl elbow, in the right elbow, that is, severe osteoarthritis believed to results from the action of throwing spears with a woomera for a number of years. This condition occurs only in the dominant spear throwing arm. This means that at 40,000 (or 60,000) years old, it is the earliest known use of a spear thrower.' http://austhrutime.com/mungo_man.htm
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MrHare
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September 23rd, 2014, 12:18 pm #13

I've been poking around the net on exactly this question in the last few months. There are finds that probably date from the Solutrean:

"Si la majorité des propulseurs sont datés du Magdalénien moyen (jusqu’à - 12 500 ans BP) on suppose que cette nouvelle technologie a pu apparaître au Solutréen supérieur (il y a - 17 500 ans). Le plus ancien propulseur est actuellement ceui qui a été découvert à Combe-Saunière par Jean-Michel Geneste, en 1986. Il était dans une couche archéologique datée entre - 17 et - 19 000 ans BP."


(from here: http://www.hominides.com/html/dossiers/propulseur.php)


My French isn't great, but that reads roughly "If the majority of the propulseurs [French for atlatl] are dated to the Magdalenien period (about 12500 ago), one can assume that this novel technology could have appeared during the late Solutrean ( at 17500 years ago). The oldest propulseur is actually that which was discovered at Combe-Sauniere by Jean-Michel Geneste in 1986. It was in an archeological layer dated between 17 and 19000 years ago".

(Apologies if I've mistranslated/misunderstood).



The 'Bâton de Commandement' or 'bâton percé' is a bit contentious as I understand it - it was originally suggested that it worked as a kind of handle for throwing a 'swiss arrow', but since there's little benefit to be gained from a handle over just winding the cord round your hand, that idea has come in for criticism. Others have suggested (more plausibly in my opinion) that these artefacts were shaft wrenches for darts.


Edit: Wups - just noticed this is an old archived thread that the previous poster brought back to life.
Last edited by MrHare on September 23rd, 2014, 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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