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Anthropology Students, Faculty Take on Rival in Atlatl Battle

Do you know how to use an atlatl? Have you ever thought that you might like to learn how they are used? Or, perhaps you’d rather just watch a friendly atlatl battle among neighboring colleges.

Wait, what’s an atlatl you ask?

“Atlatls are found all over the world and were used by people in the Upper Paleolithic era around 17,000 years ago,” said Elizabeth Paris, visiting assistant professor of anthropology. “It’s basically a spear thrower that was used to launch a dart very long distances with much greater force than using just a spear.”

As part of St. Lawrence University’s Family Weekend activities, anthropology students from St. Lawrence and SUNY Potsdam will learn how to make and throw these ancient tools. Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, a workshop presented by Bob Berg of Candor, N.Y.-based Thunderbird Atlatl will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept 26, on St. Lawrence University’s newly renovated Quad.

Then, beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, on the Quad, anthropology students and faculty from both St. Lawrence and SUNY Potsdam will compete in their first Atlatl Battle. The competing teams will play by World Atlatl Association rules (yes, there is such a thing), and the winning school will win the coveted title of Atlatl Battle 2014 Champions and take home the atlatl trophy.

“It’s already turned into a friendly rivalry between departments at both colleges,” said Mindy Pitre, assistant professor of anthropology at St. Lawrence. “It’s a great way for both schools to get their anthropology students and faculties together to have a competition using this ancient tool.”

Spectators are welcome to attend both the workshop and the competition. However, only St. Lawrence and SUNY Potsdam anthropology students will be allowed to participate in both the atlatl workshop and competition.

For more information, contact the Department of Anthropology at 315-229-5106.