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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Two Atlatl Engaging Spurs from CA-CCO-18/548: A Critical Examination of Atlatl Spur Taxonomy


The atlatl is one of the oldest and perhaps most universally used weapons in the New World. Evidence for its use in California is found in nearly every region of the state in the form of engaging spurs. Attachable spurs tend to be the least perishable component of this ancient weapon system. Despite their ubiquity in the archaeological record, little has been published on these artifacts since Riddell and McGeein’s 1969 article in American Antiquity. In this paper, we report on a pair of recently excavated bone atlatl engaging spurs recovered from a site in central California. Using these stylistically very different, yet almost contemporaneously dated spurs, we critically examine the application of the existing taxonomic system and present a re nement of White’s 1989 classi cation of California atlatl spurs.

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