Learning by Replication

I study the technology of prehistory.  Because of this, I believe strongly in the benefits of experiential archaeology.  It gives perspective on a very deep level.  We can walk in the shoes of our ancestors, so to speak.  I say experiential here not experimental and I'm glad to hear this word coming into the dialog … Continue reading Learning by Replication

Raised With Wilderness Skills

Don't leave the kids out of the things you find important... Nota bene! The following ramble was written at three in the morning and may contain sentiment, ramblings, and a bit of opinion. I don't want this to sound preachy.  What was intended as a few childhood pictures from primitive technology events ran away with … Continue reading Raised With Wilderness Skills

Making Modern Spearthrower Darts (Atlatl)

Power Tools and Preindustrial Technology Recently, I realized I needed to make a new batch of darts (spears) for an annual atlatl event at Blackwater Draw.  This is a recurring problem when teaching large groups, so several years ago I came up with a system that works well for mass producing these Ice-Age weapons with … Continue reading Making Modern Spearthrower Darts (Atlatl)

How to Build an Earthen Oven — Savoring the Past

https://www.youtube.com/embed/i0foHjPVbP4?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent The existence of ovens like this is easily documented for the 18th century. In fact, just about every ancient culture had a very similar oven. There’s one particular wood cut illustration from medieval times depicting an earthen oven built on a wagon. There are references in 18th century literature and also archaeological evidence that … Continue reading How to Build an Earthen Oven — Savoring the Past

More Paleolithic Technology in the Shop

I recently finished another Paleolithic inspired spear thrower (a.k.a. atlatl).  This came about due to some throwing over the past year that re-energized my feelings about this technology and it's sporting aspects.  As usual for this type of project, I made several at once since the tools were at hand.  Here's a quick rundown on … Continue reading More Paleolithic Technology in the Shop

Trade Card from a Bow and Arrow Maker

An advertising card from when people appreciated hand made archery equipment.  No training wheel, gizmos, releases, or sights.  There is no date on the image but I suspect that late 18th century or early 19th century would not be too far off.  Apparently javelin throwing was in vogue at the time as well.  Now we … Continue reading Trade Card from a Bow and Arrow Maker

How to Improvise and Use a Three Stick Roycroft Pack Frame

Thanks to Survival Sherpa for posting this look at making a pack frame.  Making a quick, three stick pack frame is a valuable bit of knowledge.  How serendipitous that this came up (seems to be a lot of convergent thinking around my world lately) as I am beginning to tweak my own wooden pack frame … Continue reading How to Improvise and Use a Three Stick Roycroft Pack Frame

Bois d’Arc Primitive Skills Gathering and Knap-In

A fun and relatively tame primitive technology event for a good price located in southwest Missouri put on by good friends of mine.  Here's some information from their website: This unique event has two parts - a free knap-in/native arts-crafts show starting Thursday, with top-notch knappers, artists, and crafters from a 20-state area making and … Continue reading Bois d’Arc Primitive Skills Gathering and Knap-In

In a spin about fletch wrapping

arrow_anatomyFinding “handedness” in archaeology… using the fletching of arrows as an example. As a professional archaeologist AND primitive technologist I am very skeptical when someone claims they can determine which hand of a maker is dominant on an ancient tool or weapon. One reason for the distrust is that the archaeologist may not have experienced creating the object in the same way the original maker did. I think the Leatherworking Reverend has a valid point in the following article (and not just because it affirms my own experiences).

The Reverend's Musings

At most find-sites that have arrows there will be a non-equal mix of S- and Z-wrap on the bindings. The dig report will assert that left-handed fletchers were responsible for those that aren’t the majority direction arrow binding, probably without mentioning whether it’s the Z- or S- that they are talking about. I can’t find where it was written down the first time, but it has been repeated until it became lore. Consider the Ötze website:

According to technical archaeologist Harm Paulsen, the two arrows could not have been fashioned by the same person. The fletching shows that one was wound by a left-hander and the other by a right-hander.

and the Mary Rose Trust:

Hopkins (1998) studied 408 shafts from chest 81A2582 (O9) and recorded that, in every case, the binding thread had been wound in a clockwise direction from the tip end of the shaftment (ie, the portion of the arrow…

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