SIA4120: National Park Serivce Marker: Before the Bow and Arrow

Photographer:Calvin J. Hamilton
Copyright:Copyright © 2013 Calvin J. Hamilton. All rights reserved.
Date Added:2013/10/02
Location:Hopewell Mound Group, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Chillicothe, Ohio

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Before the Bow and Arrow

These surrounding lands were rich in wild game, providing the Hopewell people with an abundant food source, but they lived before the invention of the bow and arrow. Deer and elk provided much needed protein to the diet of these early people. To hunt a deer or elk, a hand-thrown spear has serious limitations and is not powerful enough to bring down a large animal. How were they able to successfully hunt large game? To improve their hunting abilities, the Hopewell used a clever spear thrower called an atlatl. This device allows a hunter to throw a modified spear much farther and with much greater force. Using the atlatl, spears can be thrown at up to 100 miles per hour. Great skill and practice was required to throw an atlatl, but when expertly used, it could bring down huge animals.

The atlatl was known throughout the ancient world and most likely came to the Americas with the population migration across the land bridge from Asia thousands of years ago.

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