Saturday, March 7, 2009

Atlatls and Enchantment

It was a perfect Florida day for a field trip, and friend Margie and I headed for Titusville and The Enchanted Forest Sanctuary for the Florida Archaeology Month Kickoff Event, sponsored by the Florida Public Archaeology Network, (FPAN), The Enchanted Forest Sanctuary, the Indian River Anthropological Society (IRAS), and the National Park Service, Canaveral Seashore. Neither Margie nor I had been to The Enchanted Forest Sanctuary prior to our visit today - what a beautiful place. (It will be the subject of future posts, both here and as a field trip on our Space Coast Eco blog.)

The various organizations sponsoring the event had tables of artifacts and information and experts willing and able to answer questions. I was particularly looking forward to the atlatl demonstration, and soon we treked up the Sanctuary trail, following Dave McDonald, President of the Indian River Anthropological Society.

An atlatl (at-lat-al) is an ancient hunting weapon - a launching device used to propel spears and darts. Dave had a quiver full of what he referred to as "child-proof" spears that he used for the demo, and within a short period of time, he had spectators successfully throwing these things with the aid of the atlatl. (I have to confess that describing this whole thing is proving to be very challenging - if you'll look at the photo, imagine the lady using the leverage of her arm to pitch that dart-like spear thingy resting atop the atlatl she is holding firmly in her hand. Click to enlarge the picture.)

This last photo is one Margie took of Dave, who was able to explain this whole concept a lot better than I have, and who could also make the spears go a very long distance!
The audience ranged in age from little kids to grandparents, and all seemed to enjoy the demonstration - Dave's explanation was clear, and he made it possible for everybody to participate. Good stuff!


R.Powers said...

Sounds like a fun day. Mine is still a slow work in progress!

Cactus Jack Splash said...

Sounds like an interesting day. I love to wander through exhibits and learn about cultures and wildlife.