Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ohio's Archaic Heritage: Atlatl and Bannerstones #NativeAmerican #Ohio #History

Archaic Indian Hunting with Atlatl


Pt 1:
Atlatl and Bannerstones

Ohio's Paleoindian Cultures flourished in the region as the glaciers dramatically changed the landscape around them. The glacial carving of Ohio's landscape had not happened overnight. The Northern state had been covered by glaciers three times in prehistoric times, making much of the land inhabitable. You can see a glacial map of Ohio and how each of the three glaciers remained in Ohio at this http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/portals/10/pdf/glacial.pdf 

Ohio's Paleoindian culture disappeared from Ohio around the same time as the Archaic Culture emerges. The Archaic Culture inhabited Ohio from 8,000 B.C to 500 B.C. The Paleoindian lifestyle had depended upon the cold, harsh glacial climate much as the Eskimo's lifestyle depends upon the harsh surroundings they live in today. When the last glacier retreated back into Canada it not only left a new different landscape but a climate change as well. Over the years, the climate became warmer and thicker. Thick forests grew throughout the region. The Mastodons, Mammoths and other large mammals the Paleoindians had depended upon for food had been driven to extinction by over hunting and the climate change by 12,700 years ago. With the loss of their food source, a climate change and a new landscape the Paloindian way of life could no longer sustain the people. 

During the beginning of the Archaic Period the Archaic Culture resembled their Paleoindian ancestors as they continued to be nomadic. With the extinction of the larger mammals, the Archaic people depended upon smaller game, such as deer and rabbits, for food. They also fished in lakes and streams,  and gathered berries and nuts to supplement their diet. 

Hunting techniques and technology changed in order to for the shift from larger mammal to smaller mammal hunts. During the Paleoindian Period hunting was a group effort due to the size of the prey. Smaller game hunts meant that a man could hunt on his own. He also had a new weapon - the atlatl. 

Although this video compares the atlatl with a bow and arrows, the bow and arrow would not be invented in North America until 2,000 years ago. Europeans had been using the atlatl from more than 30,000 years ago but the weapon was not discovered in North America until 12,000 years ago. 

The atlatl revolutionized the way humans hunted and went to war. It allowed the warrior/hunter to throw their spear much farther than ever before. You can read more about the weapon by visiting this link http://www.hollowtop.com/atlatlbob.htm.

An artifact most commonly found in Ohio that may have been used with the atlatl is a bannerstone. The
A Bannerstone found in Ohio.
US Public Domain
 bannerstone is a symmetrically carved ground stone with a hole drilled in the center. They are found in all shapes and sizes, including some that are butterfly shaped such as the one pictured. There are many debates as to what the bannerstones were used for. Some believe they were used as ceremonial pieces or weights while other contest the bannerstone was used for drilling, cordage making, or fire making. Robert S. Berg and William S. Webb believe the bannerstone was part of the atlatl or was used to repair  it.

Authors Richard R. Townsend and Robert V. Sharp of Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand: American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South stated in their book "“[bannerstones’] craftsmanship and materials suggest that they also served as emblems of prestige and status conferred upon hunters coming of age, and as supernatural talismans for increasing the spear-throwers efficacy. They may also have served as emblems of clans or other social units”.

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