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Ancient weapon use is part of Ingomar history

This atlatl is on exhibit at the Union County Heritage Museum.

 Ingomar Mound event, set this Saturday, from 10 – 2  at the Ingomar site,  weather permitting,  will be larger this year based on the number of volunteers  who are helping with the event,  and  also new is the  atlatl competition, which will begin at 11:15.

Some ancient area history

The word atlatl may be new to many, and to clarify, it is the throwing stick used to throw spears by the ancient hunters of this area. The atlatl was the hunting weapon used when the Ingomar Site was constructed, approximately 2,200 years ago.

How do we know this – by the size of the spear points or arrow heads found in the area.  The larger points, which have been found at the Ingomar site, tell today’s archaeologists that they were used on spears, since they would be far too heavy to used on an arrow shot from a bow.

Enlargement showing difference in arrow points and spear points

Enlargement showing difference in arrow points and spear points

Flint points found in Union County.

Flint points found in Union County. Three points in upper right corner shown enlarged in 2nd photo.

The bow and arrow as the principal hunting weapon (and war of war) gradually appeared bout 1600 years ago in this area.  The spring American Archaeology magazine has an article with photos of preserved atlatl darts that were recovered from a melting patch of ice in the Yukon in Canada.  These darts range in age from 5,000 to 1200 years ago.   The dart is attached tn the end of the spear thrown by the atlatl. The atlatl is the approximately 2 foot long stick with a hook on the end and a banner stone weight that is used to give more momentum to the thrown spear.

The shift from atlatl to bow and arrow brought a cultural change that let hunters become more economically independent because with the bow they found more individual success in killing animal and human targets.  The rise of the use of the bow and arrow gave rise to a shift in culture here and across America.

Life begins to get more complicated

The efficiency of individual hunters made the need to cooperate with other hunters in the large scale game drives not as necessary – and it is quite possible that the large animals, such as mastodon and wooly mammoth were diminishing in number as well.

In a nutshell, the Mississippian culture, which follows the Woodland Culture (during which Ingomar was built), begins and population increases, villages begin to pop us, agriculture also is growing. Groups stay in one area to harvest the crops.  Communities fortified themselves in clusters and competed with one another and then conflicts arise . Village fortification begins, and things became more complicated than just hunting for survival.  The more sophisticated the weapons, the more likely they will be used to kill other humans.  And the fact that people became more likely to stay in one place for longer period of time in larger groups brought about more solicitation as well as more conflicts.

So that’s about 12,000 years of Mississippi history in a few paragraphs, but that’s the gist of it.

When one looks at the eras of history in Mississippi – they are:

The Paleo Indian period lasted from circa 10,000 BC to circa 8000 BC.

The Archaic Indian period lasted from 8000 BC to 1000 BC.

The Woodland Indian period lasted from 1000 BC to 1000 AD.

The Mississippian Indian period lasted from circa 1000-1600; these were the Indians who met the European explorers and settlers, and from whom descended the Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, and other Native American tribes.

The Historic Period from 1541 – present which the first written information about this area appears in the Chronicles of Hernando De Soto.

And now back to the Ingomar event

There are three classes of Atlatl throwing competition – ages up to 10 will compete in the Little Hunter division,  from 11– 15 in the Youth Division and from 16 to adult  in the Adult division.  There is no cost to compete, but the rules must be followed. Trophies will be awarded to the winners.

There will be other stations at the event for children and adults. For more information call the museum at 662-538-0014. Bring chairs if you will need to sit.

The mound site is located approximately 5 miles south of New Albany west of Highway 15 on County Road 96.  If the event is rained out, it will be rescheduled.

Use the Comments section below to share your thoughts about this article publicly, or use the TCB PAGE for confidential comments.

Jill N. Smith

Director

Union County Heritage Museum

114 Cleveland Street

New Albany, Mississippi 38652

662-538-0014

www.ucheritagemuseum.com

 

“I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about,

and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.”

William Faulkner

 

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