The atlatl was used as a weapon before the bow and arrow was invented, back in the Paleolithic times. Atlatls were found in the Americas, Europe, Australia.

The earliest  atlatl artifacts are around 20 000 years old, coming from Europe (present day France and Spain primarily). Solid, uncontrovertable evidence of the earliest use of the atlatl in North America is around 8 000 – 9 000 years.

In Central America (Aztecs and Mayans) and the American Arctic the atlatl continued to be in use even after bows were invented.

The ataltl uses leverage to achieve velocity around 100 km/h and throw the dart at 200 m!

This is a wonderful example of an Aztec atlatl, made by the German master Michel Bootz.

Michael's-atlatl-1 Michael's-atlatl-2
Michael's-atlatl-3 Michael's-atlatl-4
Michael's-atlatl-7 Michael's-atlatl-6

In the wonderful series on History Channel about the Maya Warriors, Tom Mills  presents the atlatl  as a weapon (starts at 3:50)

You will get the best impression on this weapon if you go to PaleoPlanet and click here.

Michael Bootz will lead an atlatl workshop next year. You can see his works in the Gallery.

Stay tuned!