|microblade core with detached blade|
Check out the video HERE!
I recently had my friend Josh Lynch over to the house to throw a few atlatl darts at a rack of ribs. He is affiliated with the Center for the Study of the First Americans, part of the Department of Anthropology here at Texas A&M University. His research focuses on late Pleistocene/early Holocene hunter-gatherer activity along the eastern edge of the Bearing Land Bridge. The high frequency of microblades at excavated sites suggests prehistoric hunters were using tiny blades to make composite antler/blade projectile points. Here's why this technological choice is so cool: Stone is sharp and bone is durable...so mix the two together and you have a durable delivery system with sharp (and replaceable) cutting edges. Sticking tiny stone blades into an antler is a fantastic way to conserve raw materials. In the absence of abundant stone to make tools out of, pressing a few tiny blades into a sharp bone point will certainly work well.
|slot awaiting pitch and blades|
|clamp the core in your hands|
On to the Test!
We set the blades and tested the dart against two different arrow points and a large stemmed atlatl point made on Edwards Chert. The atlatl can handle larger points than the bow so I was pretty excited to see what these bruisers would do. I was actually pretty surprised at what the bow did too.
I'm always a little astounded at what a sharp rock flying fast will do to things.
The arrow points broke bone, unlike that little point that stuck into the bone a few tests ago. The side notched point cracked through a rib and broke in half and the obsidian point came off in the hay after shattering on a rib. It became increasingly clear how clever the antler/blade set up is. These points could go all day. The bone and stone combo is both serviceable and durable, two things that play a large part in long-term success rates.
The thing just looks mean too, like something you'd see sketched on a napkin after Rambo had Chuck Norris and Edward Scissor Hands over for arm wrestling and tree kicking practice. Still waiting on my invite...my phone must have been off.
The microblade point melted through the meat but ran into problems when in contact with the ribs. Not like a few blades coming out is a big problem, they would have popped out eight inches into the critter.
|microblade wound through ribs|
|you bring the meat, I'll kill a fence|
|Slot cut into rib with atlatl dart|
The Pachuca knife made a cameo appearance and worked great. I was able to cut through the entire rack in two slices, not bad. The cut marks on bone made by the obsidian knife were pretty neat too. We find these in archaeological trash deposits (middens) sometimes.
All in all a fun test. The folks in Alaska were really on to something out there. The combination of strength and sharpness that the antler/blade set up offers is a pretty novel approach to saving raw material. This technological choice keeps your arsenal light and easy to maintain. The arrows did well. The normal technological relationship still stands where arrow points a quicker to make but break faster than bone points.
|cut marks from Pachuca knife|
|finally broke the hafting element|
|impact fracture after bone crunching hit|
I kind of want to try a weird technology, should we make and shoot those cool Paleoindian crescents? Were they even projectiles? Somebody chime in on that.