Chestertown, MD, April 3, 2003 — Long before fast food and microwave dinners, ensuring daily meals was a labor-intensive activity that required stalking the big game that kept you, your family, village and tribe alive. Washington College's Anthropology Club will demonstrate one of the earliest advances in hunting technology, the Atlatl, in a free public demonstration Saturday, April 12, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the College's Athletic Field. All are invited to attend.
The Atlatl (from the Aztec word for “spear thrower”) is device that imparted incredible mechanical and technical advantage to our prehistoric ancestors. Increasing the spear velocity by 15 times and striking power by 200 times, Atlatls were used worldwide prior to the advent of the bow and arrow. The oldest known Atlatl artifact is more than 19,000 years old, although it is believed that the Atlatl was in common use more than 40,000 years ago. An example of how human technology directly affects the natural environment, the Atlatl provided a tremendous hunting advantage and, conversely, might have contributed to the extinction of many large mammals throughout the world. The power that the Atlatl imparts to the spear is so great that the Aztecs readopted the technology for its armor-piercing ability against the Spanish Conquistadors in the Sixteenth Century. As part of the demonstration, the Washington College Anthropology Club has constructed a seven-foot tall Mastodon to use as a target for the spear throwing demonstrations. As part of this Saturday program, the Anthropology Club also will teach the ancient art of flint knapping, breaking and shaping stones into arrow and spearheads. For more information, contact Lisa Holly, president of the Anthropology Club, at 410-810-8310.