Birdstone of banded claystone

British Museum

British Museum

A birdstone was used as a weight in an atlatl, or throwing stick. This was a tool in use in much of Meso- and North America, for 'flick-levering' a projectile or dart over the shoulder. The earliest evidence for the use of a throwing stick comes from the Upper Palaeolithic, in the Mahgreb, 40,000 years ago. It was still in use among Inuit until well into the twentieth century.The technique of using the forefinger to launch a projectile is still used by the Iroquois in the winter game of snowsnakes, in which weighted projectiles are flicked along a channel in the snow. Players compete for the distance achieved.The bow is a more recent introduction into North America, perhaps arriving from Asia between one and two thousand years ago.

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  • Title: Birdstone of banded claystone
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 13.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: Am,S.343
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Ohio
  • Other information: Cultural rights may apply.
  • Material: slate
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum. Collected by Squier, Ephraim George. Collected by Davis, Edwin Hamilton
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