[…]

There is an interesting short piece in The Economist concerning atlatlists, that is, spear throwing. Atlatl is an Aztec word, which refers not to the spear itself, but to the device used to throw it. Said device is apparently

“a carefully shaped stick just under a metre long which acts as an extension of the human throwers arm. The spear is balanced along it, with the blunt end snug against the hook. The other end is held by the hurler. The atlatl serves to amplify the hurlers arm movement in a way that allows a stone-tipped spear to be propelled at speeds well over 150kph.”

This is important, it is being argued, because it may have played “an important part in human evolution” that is to say, it was a social equaliser, allowing “dextrous women and children” to use a spear “as well as muscular men.” This is worth thinking about in a war situation, the report suggests, because a woman who could hurl a spear “particularly in hunter-gatherer societies” where war is often “a hunt with women as the prize” would have a significant advantage. The atlatl, concludes the report, would therefore be “one of the first great assertions of feminism.”