Frozen Atlatls from the Yukon

Cool, extremely detailed article all about atlatl and dart artifacts out in the ice in the Yukon:

Ethnographic and Archaeological Investigations of Alpine Ice Patches in Southwest Yukon, Canada

ABSTRACT. Since the original 1997 discovery of ancient hunting implements in melting alpine ice patches of southern Yukon, approximately 146 well-preserved, organic artifacts have been recovered. Most of the artifacts, variously made of antler, bone, wood, and stone, represent complete or partial examples of throwing-dart (atlatl) and bow-and-arrow technology. Radiocarbon dates obtained thus far range from 8360 BP to 90 BP (uncalibrated). Our research indicates that in southern Y ukon, throwing-dart technology persisted from at least 8360 BP to approximately 1250 BP, when it was abruptly replaced by bow-and-arrow technology. The collection has afforded archaeologists and First Nation researchers a unique opportunity to learn about past hunting technologies and practices and thus greatly improve our understanding of the enduring relationships between humans and caribou.

Downloadable PDF here, courtesy of Greg Hare – Senior Projects Archaeologist, Cultural Services Branch at the Yukon’s Department of Tourism and Culture.

Great Atlatl Weight Article


I recently found this article “Atlatl Weights in the Collection of the Royal British Columbia Museum” By Grant Keddie, Curator of Archaeology.

Great pictures of weights in the BC collection … and good answers to the question, “Why are weights used on throwing boards (atlatls)?”

“[T]he stone weight tunes the atlatl flex in relation to the spine of the dart. This results in the dart being propelled foreward with greater control […] The purpose of some decorative atlatl weights is, of course, also symbolic – with meanings that vary among culturals. Some preserved wooden atlatl boards have been found with small ornamental attachments. Some look like mini atlatl weights, but due to their light weight, can only be symbolic or purely decorative.”

Check out the full article here. (PDF Download from British Columbia site)