Blackwater Draw Atlatl 2013

A few photos from the Blackwater Draw Atlatl 2013.

Bronze Age Technology

The recovered portion of the Dover Boat on display.

Robin Wood is a remarkable traditional craftsman from Britain.  He has recently been involved with replicating the Dover Boat, a Bronze Age ship discovered in 1992 (see the news article here).  The find is about 3500 years old, placing it right at the cusp of early metal-working technology.

The Oetzi axe

The reconstruction is half-scale but staying true to the technology, they are attempting to use replicated tools for much of the construction.  Pallstaves were cast from an original and hafted both like an adze and like an axe.  This isn’t speculative as there are quite a number of preserved Bronze Age examples from wet contexts in Europe.

“Pallstave” replicas.

As with other ships and boats from the Neolithic and Bronze Age, ingenious methods were used to connect the planks and stiffen the hull.  Technologically, these fall somewhere between composite dugouts and true framed ships.  There are many factors in holding together a boat including lots of movement from all angles, swelling/shrinking of the planks, and the need for light weight.  The solution on the Dover Boat was to stitch the entire thing together with yew “withes” and stiffen the body with heavy lathes driven through carved mortices.

It seems that a better candidate could not have been chosen to work on this project and I’m very glad to see that he is documenting it on his blog for all to see.

Adzing a plank by eye, leaving the mortices standing to accept the lathes. (Click the photo or link below to go to Robin’s website).

“Experiential Archaeology” in action.

From the log of the Starship Enterprise

In January of 1967, an episode of Star Trek entitled “The Galileo Seven” aired, and caught the attention of Dr. George Agogino, a past Director of the Paleo-Indian Institute at Eastern New Mexico University. In the episode, Spock and his crew crash-land on a hostile planet with “caveman” like creatures lurking around, and throwing spears at the crew. Dr. Agogino saw a morphological resemblance between the spear points used in the episode and Folsom points, so he decided to send a letter and request that the spears that were used in the television show be donated to the Blackwater Draw Museum. A few months later Robert Justman, the associate Producer of Star Trek received Agogino’s request, and was enthused to answer it.

Justman noted that the spears were based on the Folsom points that had originally been found in New Mexico in the late 1920s, but he made sure to address the “dramatic license” that was practiced by enlarging the spears to 15 feet in length. Nonetheless, Agogino was still thrilled at the possibility of having Folsom themed Star Trek memorabilia on display.

Below is a scene out of the episode featuring the spears:

Many letters went back and forth between Agogino, Justman, and NBC, mainly addressing shipping and logistics of mailing 15 foot spears, but eventually the spears made their way to Portales, New Mexico, and then to the Blackwater Draw Museum where they are still proudly on display.

Star Trek prop spears on display in the Blackwater Draw Museum.