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Saint Augustine, Northeast Florida
Going public with archaeology for outreach, assistance to local governments, and service to the citizens and state of Florida. Visit our website at: http://flpublicarchaeology.org/nerc/
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Archive for December 2007

Atlatl Antics

Yesterday we brought the Atlatl activity out to the Pedro Menendez High School football field. It was beautiful weather, a little windy, but not enough to impede the activity.
For those not familiar with the term: an Atlatl is a primitive hunting implement with a notch on one end, which hooks into the butt of a spear. It generates extra force for the spear by creating an extension of the throwing arm.
For the activity, we broke the class up into 4 teams and first had each student throw a spear by hand and record the distance. After each team member had a chance at this, they were then able to use the Atlatl to the throw the spear, and the distance was recorded. The activity demonstrates very clearly how effective this technology was in acheiving greater distance and force using the Atlatl, as opposed to throwing the spear by hand. The data tends to be relatively skewed, as wielding the Atlatl is an aquired skill that comes with practice and a firm understanding of the mechanics. Its not uncommon for individuals who are not familiar with it to experience "Atlatl malfunction" and end up throwing the spear farther by hand.
Despite this, the Pedro Menendez class took to the activity with gusto. Several of the students hurled the spears more than 50 meters with the assistance of the Atlatls! We will be doing a follow up lesson next week to discuss the results the students witnessed in the activity. Thank you Pedro Menedez class for participaing in the first successful run of the NE FPAN Atlatl Antics activity in the field!
Thats the dirt for today!
-Matt Armstrong

P.S. I would like to take this opportunity to formally challenge anyone reading this blog to a competition of Atlatl skill. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but there has been serious discussion among scholarly circles as to formally renaming this technology the "Mattlatl"

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