Tag Archives: Ozarks

Southwestern-Style Spear Throwers Identified in the Ozarks

An atlatl fragment has recently surfaced that was discovered in the Ozarks in Missouri, as reported by Western Digs.

Western Digs Photo of Ozark Atlatl
Western Digs Photo of Ozark Atlatl

New analysis of two spear-throwers excavated nearly a century ago in the Ozark Mountains reveals what one archaeologist calls an “uncanny” similarity to those used in the ancient Southwest and Mesoamerica.

One of the artifacts — an intact carved wooden spear thrower, or atlatl — was first described in the 1920s, when it was found under a rock outcrop known as the Alred Shelter in northwestern Arkansas.
Montgomery Atlatl

The atlatl fragment found at Montgomery Shelters, Missouri, features distinctive notches and lugs for a split-fingered grip. (University of Arkansas Museum Collections)

– Blake de Pastino, Feb 11, 2014

I have postulated that the fragment is only about two thirds of the original spear thrower.

What the rest of the atlatl looks like with an added atlatl weight. Edited with Photoshop.
What the rest of the atlatl looks like with an added atlatl weight. Edited with Photoshop.

The atlatl fragment is only twelve and a half inches long. I believe that the distal portion broke off and was lost. I compared the fragment to several atlatls that I have made and came to the conclusion that the missing end would have looked like what I have depicted in the second picture.

I believe that the slit in the spear thrower would have been used to tie on an atlatl weight, as shown.

I did not depict the loops that would have been attached at the proximal end but it is evident that some kind of finger loop system would have been used on this spear thrower. The finger loops may have been made of leather, plant fiber, bone, shell or hair.

What do you think?

Bob Berg