R_Illustrated Note on Atlatl Spurs in the Archaeology of Cuba

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ILLUSTRATED NOTE ON ATLATL SPURS IN THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF CUBA By Alfredo E. Figueredo Member of I.A.C.A. Abstract An illustrated note is offered on the spear-thrower (or atlatl) spurs in the context of the archaeology of Cuba. Skinner reported the first spear-thrower spur in the archaeological literature of the Caribbean in 1925. In 1977, the author recognized a spear-thrower spur in Indian Creek, island of Antigua, and these artifacts began to be identified in the rest of the West Indies; except
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    ILLUSTRATED NOTE ON ATLATL SPURS IN THEARCHAEOLOGY OF CUBA By Alfredo E. FigueredoMember of I.A.C.A.Abstract An illustrated note is offered on the spear-thrower (or atlatl) spurs in the contextof the archaeology of Cuba. Skinner reported the first spear-thrower spur in thearchaeological literature of the Caribbean in 1925. In 1977, the author recognized aspear-thrower spur in Indian Creek, island of Antigua, and these artifacts began to beidentified in the rest of the West Indies; except for Cuba. A look at the Cubanarchaeological literature shows that they indeed had been reported before, but notidentified as such. Also added are data on the efficiency of the spear-throwers or atlatl,and a beginning is made on a typology of their spurs. Observations are made about thespear-throwers or atlatl in other archaeological contexts of the Caribbean. The darts usedare mentioned. The spear-throwers are compared to the weak bow used by the Tainos of eastern Cuba. Key words : composite artifacts, spear-thrower, atlatl, spear-thrower spur, island of Cuba,island of St. Croix, island of Antigua, archaeology, Caribbean, hunting, war, darts,Taínos.   Resumen Se ofrece una nota ilustrada sobre los ganchos de tiradera (o garrucha) en elcontexto de la arqueología de Cuba. Skinner reportó el primer gancho de tiradera en laliteratura arqueológica del Caribe en 1925. En 1977, el autor reconoció un gancho detiradera en Indian Creek, isla de Antigua, y se empezaron a identificar estos artefactos enel resto de Las Antilles; excepto en Cuba. Una ojeada a la literatura arqueológica cubanamuestra que sí se habían reportado antes, pero no se identificaron como tales. Tambiénse añaden datos sobre la eficiencia de las tiraderas o garruchas, y se esboza el inicio deuna tipología de sus ganchos. Se hacen observaciones acerca de las tiraderas o garruchasen otros contextos arqueológicos del Caribe. Se mencionan los dardos usados. Lastiraderas se comparan al arco débil que usaban los taínos del oriente de Cuba. Palabras clave : artefactos compuestos, tiradera, garrucha, gancho de tiradera, isla deCuba, isla de Santa Cruz, isla de Antigua, arqueología, Caribe, cacería, guerra, dardos,taínos.   FIG.1 FIG.2This brief illustrated note deals with atlatl spurs, known in Spanish as ganchos detiradera or ganchos de garrucha (and also by other names) in the context of thearchaeology of Cuba. These artifacts truly are  parts of artifacts, since they are an element  of a composite artifact  , which includes others, such as the atlatl itself, which is infact a worked stick; the binding of the spur itself to the atlatl, consisting of string andmaybe glue; and the strap handle for the hand and the arm of the individual wielding theatlatl, which may be of leather or of rope, be it of cotton or another material (see Figures1 and 2 for its use and the spur’s position). At times, in some places, another element isincorporated: a weight  , normally made of worked stone (Nicholson 1980, 399), also withits binding.The first atlatl spur reported for the Antilles in the archaeological literature wasby Alanson Buck Skinner, of the Museum of the American Indian (Heye Foundation),and it came from an archaeological collection donated to that Museum by Mrs. LouiseHark, of Saint Croix (Skinner 1925; Figure 4). This spur is made from a greenstone ,probably nephrite. It was found in a multicomponent midden at that lady's plantation,called Estate Richmond, several kilometers west-northwest of the city of Christiansted. Itis of a form common worldwide, therefore Skinner, who had much ethnographicalexperience, had no difficulty identifying it as such.   FIG.3 FIG.4 FIG5.The second was identified by the writer of this note, on the island of Antigua(Nicholson 1980; Figure 3). It comes from the Terminal Saladoid occupation(Episaladoid) of the Indian Creek site, in the eastern part of the island, near an estuaryand the sea. It is made of shell. Due to its form, at first it was considered by others as asimulation of a phallus, until I compared it with other specimens from California. Now itis defined as an atlatl spur of the ‘snake head’ type. Later, some similar ones wereidentified from the same island, and also of another types, made of  greenstone , almostalways nephrite or jadeite, and others also of shell.Additionally, the atlatl themselves have been divided into three classes: male , if they do not have a lengthwise groove to accommodate the dart, and have spurs that stickout;  female , if they have that groove, with the spur inside of it; and mixed  , if they have agroove and the spur sticks out (Krause 1905).An ‘Annotated Atlatl Bibliography’ by John Whittaker (2010) has just come outin the Internet. He differs from Krause as to classification, and simply proposes that the spur  is the effective part of the composite artifact, therefore all atlatl are male with orwithout the added groove of the spur sticking out.After the presentation of said artifact by means of a paper by Desmond VernonNicholson at the VIII Congress of the International Association for CaribbeanArchaeology (Saint Christopher, 1979), other delegates also identified atlatl spurs from
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