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Archaeologist to give talk on spearthrowers

Nov 18, 2012 - From staff reports

The presentation will provide a primer on the function, evidence and continued use of the ancient weapon.

Russell Richard will be the featured speaker at the Fremont County Archaeological Society meeting at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the Hudson Town Hall. The title of his presentation will be "An Overview of the Atlatl: Prehistoric and Historical Use of the Spearthrower."

This presentation will provide a primer on the function, archaeological evidence and continuing use of this ancient weapon. Richard will also discuss his own adventures with the atlatl across the United States and Europe.

Richard is a native of Wyoming from the Big Horn Basin and spent the majority of his youth in and near Thermopolis and most especially on Kirby Creek and the copper Mountain area.

After returning to Wyoming in the mid-1990's he was heavily influenced by a couple of uncles and a brother who had become artifact collectors and developed his own deep interest in prehistoric culture in the region. By 1990, his interest had become an obsession and inspired by the example of George Frison, he obtained a degree in anthropology in 1994 from the University of Wyoming. Since that time he has been a practicing CRM archaeologist and has worked on multiple projects from Montana to New Mexico and from California to Illinois.

He is the author of numerous technical reports and a few professional publications. He specializes in zoo archaeology and faunal analysis.

During his time at the University of Wyoming Archaeological Field School in 1903, Dr. Charles Reher introduced Richard to the Atlatl and Dr. George Frison's exploits with the weapon served to inspire him further. He quickly became devoted to this weapon.

In 1996, he attended (and won) his first competition at the World Atlatl Open at Fort Casper. In the following years he has attended competitions in 15 states and six European countries and has been a frequent contributor to the Atlatl (World Atlatl Association Publication), has sponsored the foothill-mountain Atlatl competition since 1999, and has taught thousands of kids to throw at the Wyoming Game and Fish Expo.

In 2008 he founded the Wyoming Atlatl and Social Club, and in 2011 he was instrumental in the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Kid's World Open Atlatl Contest in Saratoga. He has been a member of the World Atlatl Association since 1996.

This free public program is sponsored by the Fremont County Archaeological Society, a chapter of the Wyoming Archaeological Society, Inc., a not for profit educational organization.

Back issues of The Wyoming Archaeologist are available for public reading online at www.wyomingarchaeology.org.

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