This was Trevor's 7th Grade Science Fair Project

ABSTRACT

 Title:  Replication and Study of an Archaeological Kenton Cave Throwing Stick

 Purpose:  The purpose is to build and flight test a replica throwing stick like one used by the people of the Kenton Cave Culture in the Oklahoma Panhandle 1000-3000 years ago.  I want to find out how accurate the throwing stick was.

 Problem:  The throwing stick at Woolaroc is broken and a piece of it is missing.  What would it have looked like when it was intact?  How would the throwing stick have flown and what would it have been used for?

Hypothesis:  I think the longer throwing stick will be more accurate.

Materials:  Fragment of a 1000-3000 year old throwing stick, Birch plywood, Wood glue, Oak planks, Lead Fishing Weights, Bondo, Scales, Calipers, Tape Measure, String, Wood Working Tools, Wood Burning Tool, Paint, Wood Stain, Danish Oil, and Cardboard Target.

Procedure:  I will make three different throwing sticks and find out which one flies better.  I will base my replica throwing sticks on archaeological evidence as well as pictures of modern rabbit sticks.

Experiment:  I had three people throw each stick five times at a cardboard target and then repeated this three more times on different days.  I also did a test to see what the maximum distance was for the throwing sticks.

Results:  Throwing Stick 3 is the most accurate it also flew the greatest distance.

Conclusion:  The two shorter throwing sticks are more accurate.  I think the fragment at Woolaroc may be more than half of its original length.  The sticks would hit with enough force to kill or stun small animals.  The sticks would not have been much use against larger animals.  It would have been no use as a weapon against people.  I think throwing sticks like these would have been most accurate when used at distances of fifteen meters or less.

Replication and Study of an Archaeological

Kenton Cave Throwing Stick

by Trevor

Acknowledgments

 I would like to thank the following people for helping me with my Science Fair Project:

 Ken Meek, Interim Museum Director at Woolaroc, for allowing me to examine the throwing stick.

 Mrs. Rogers, my seventh grade science teacher, for all of her hand outs and extra help with the project.

 My Dad, for helping me carve the throwing sticks and for letting me use his power tools.

 My Mom, for recording data, helping me type my report, and taking pictures.

 My brother, for helping me test fly the hunting sticks and running the sticks back to me after each throw.

 My Grandpa and retired science teacher for giving me advice and helping me name this project.

 My Aunt, Amy who is Lab Supervisor for Western Illinois Archeological Survey, for giving me advice on where to look for research.

Research Report
 

Purpose

My purpose is to make and flight test a replica throwing stick like ones used by the people of the Kenton Cave Culture in the Oklahoma Panhandle 1000-3000 years before the present.  The Throwing stick (Rabbit Stick) is in the collection of Woolaroc Museum near Bartlesville Oklahoma. 

I want to find out how accurate the throwing stick was by making three slightly different throwing sticks and testing which one flies better.  During this procedure, I hope to have a better understanding of what the broken throwing stick may have looked like when it was first made and used by Archaic Indians in Oklahoma.  I will also have a better understanding of what these people did to make throwing sticks and how they may have lived.  

Hypothesis

          I think the larger throwing stick will be more accurate due to the length.  I believe this throwing stick would be used to break the bones of small animals.  The original throwing stick was probably twice the length of the piece at Woolaroc.  I think the throwing stick can be thrown a maximum of 25 meters.

Problem

The artifact at Woolaroc is broken and I would like to know what it was like in the past. What would it have looked like when it was intact?  How would the throwing stick have flown and what would it have been used for?

Procedures

I have examined the Kenton Cave Throwing Stick fragment at Woolaroc Museum.  I have measured it, and weighed it.  I made a tracing of the stick and drawings of the airfoil.  I also took photos of the stick.  Ken Meek, Museum Director, also made a photocopy of the stick for me to use.

I will base my replica throwing sticks on archaeological evidence as well as pictures of modern rabbit sticks.

I made three replica throwing sticks with my Dad’s help.  Two of them were made from Finland birch.  One was made from oak, which seems to be what the original was made from.  Three pieces of plywood were put together to make the plywood hunting sticks.  Birch wood is lighter in weight than the oak original so I drilled holes and put lead fishing weights into the wood.  The holes were then filled in with Bondo Auto Body Filler so the lead would not show.  The weight was brought up to what the original would have been at full size.  The stick at Woolaroc weighed 108 grams.  I made the stick that was twice the size weigh 216 grams.  The oak stick was made from four pieces of oak put together.  A thick oak plank was used with some quarter inch oak glued on top of this.  This wood was cut into three pieces and glued on so the grain would follow the curve of the throwing stick, like the grain did on the original.

I will identify the three throwing sticks by numbers, TS 1, TS 2, and TS 3.  The stick TS 1 is the first one I made.  It is twice the length of the one at Woolaroc. I made it this length because I think that the one at Woolaroc is broken in the middle.  This design is also based on other pictures of throwing sticks (rabbit sticks) I have seen.  The throwing sticks in many of these pictures look shorter than TS 1.  Based on this information, I did not make any sticks that were longer than TS 1.  My Dad, who makes many boomerangs, also believes that shorter sticks may be more accurate and may by more historically correct.

Statistics of the Three Throwing Sticks 

 

Length tip to tip

Length following curve

Weight

TS 1

67.94 cm

71.12 cm

216 g

TS 2

59.37 cm

61.28 cm

182 g

TS 3

55.56 cm

57.78 cm

170 g

 The shape of the airfoil on the Kenton Cave throwing stick is a blunt lens shape.  According to Norm Kern, expert on throwing sticks, this is one of the best airfoils for accurate flights.

Background on Kenton Cave Culture

          Seven cave and shelter sites have been found near Kenton, Oklahoma.  All the sites have archeological remains and some have rock art. Among artifacts recovered from the Kenton Caves are hide,  yucca-fiber sandals, shell, bone, wooden beads, squash rinds, beans, baskets, stone spear points, a throwing stick, and a wooden atlatl.

There is much more unknown than known about the people who lived there. If the excavations had been carried out in a scientific manner, many more facts would be known about the people who lived there.

         People of the late Archaic most likely used the atlatl, throwing sticks, and spears for hunting, and probably lived in the caves.  These people may have also used caves in the Texas Panhandle.

About Throwing Sticks

 At one time throwing sticks were used for hunting.  They would have worked best in open areas with less trees.  Throwing sticks have been found in the southwest United States, Australia, the Arctic, and even Ancient Egyptian Tombs.  One of the oldest is a 20,000 year old throwing stick made of mammoth tusk that was found in a cave in Poland.

 These throwing sticks are not boomerangs.  Woolaroc Museum has the stick labeled as a non-returning boomerang.  But according to some sources on the Internet and some boomerang experts, non-returning sticks should not be labeled as boomerangs.  According to The Boomerang Association of Australia, in order to be called a boomerang, a stick must tend to return as a result of gyroscopic precession caused by asymmetric lift.  A throwing stick can also be called a hunting stick, throw stick, rabbit stick, killer stick, or kylie by some Australian Aboriginals.  A throwing stick is a non-returning weapon for hunting or warfare.  It is typically much larger and straighter than a returning boomerang, and is thrown with much more sidearm motion.

Experimental Throwing

          My Dad, my Brother, and I threw the three throwing sticks five times each on three different days. Each day we changed the order in which we threw the sticks.  On the first day we threw stick 1, 2, 3; the next day it was 2, 3, 1; and the final day it was 3, 2, 1. 

I used a twenty-inch square of cardboard for a target.  I threw at a distance of six meters.  I thought that would be a good distance for beginners.  I would be able to hit the target some of the time and it would also be somewhat challenging.  This distance would allow me to determine the accuracy of each stick.

I recorded how many times the throwing stick hit the target.

I also threw for maximum distance.   I tried to throw the throwing stick with a flat trajectory when I did this. 

My Dad also threw the stick at the target from fifteen meters and found that he could hit the target from that distance some of the time.

Results

Test throwing shows that Throwing Stick 3 is the most accurate.  Throwing Stick 2 is also very accurate.  The shorter sticks were easier to throw for good accuracy.  The shorter sticks were also easier to throw further.

Results of All Throws From 6m

 

    TS 1

    TS 2

    TS 3

Hit Target

      18

     20

      25

Miss Target

      27

     25

      20

Results by Individual Throwers From 6m

Thrower

 

    TS 1

     TS 2

   TS 3

Steven (Dad)

Hit Target

      9

      11

      11

 

Miss Target

      6

       4

       4

Trevor

Hit Target

      6

       3

       7

 

Miss Target

      9

      12

       8

Dillon

Hit Target

      3

       6

       7

 

Miss Target

     12

       9

       8

Results of Throwing for Maximum Distance

Thrower

TS 1

TS 2

TS 3

Trevor

14.5m

15m

15.75m

Steven (Dad)

25m

30m

36m

Percentage of Accuracy For All Throws

By All 3 throwers From 6 meters

Percent Accuracy

TS 1

TS 2

TS 3

 

 

 

 

56%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

52%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

48%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

44%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throwing for Maximum Distance
By Steven Graham
 

Distance in Meters

TS 1

TS 2

TS 3

 

 

 

 

38

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 I think any of the sticks could have been used for hunting.  However, I would use Throwing Stick 3 if I had to rely on it for getting food. I first thought a longer throwing stick would be more accurate until my flight testing results proved the shorter throwing sticks are more accurate.  Because of this, I think the fragment at Woolaroc may be more than half of its original length.

 I think it would definitely hit with enough force to kill or stun small animals. Sometimes the stick would go through two layers of cardboard. I do not think this kind of throwing stick would have been much use against larger animals.  It would have been no use as a weapon against people.

 I think throwing sticks like these would have been most accurate when used at distances of fifteen meters or less.  Occasionally these throwing sticks may have been used at distances greater than fifteen meters, but most likely hunting would have been done at much closer distances.

Bibliography

Collection of Woolaroc Museum near Bartlesville Oklahoma.

Boomerang Association of Australia
http://www.boomerang.org.au/articles/article-boomerang-glossary.html

Oklahoma Archeological Survey – Oklahoma’s Past
http://www.ou.edu/cas/archsur/counties/cimarron.htm

German Boomerang Maker Web Site – Redi Boom Article on history of the boomerang
http://www.rediboom.com/englisch/geschich/index.html

Texas Beyond History – Web Site About Granado Cave Artifacts
http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/granado/artifacts.html

Texas Beyond History – About Ceremonial Cave Artifacts
http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/ceremonial/gallery.html

Throwing Stick Picture at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology
http://hearstmuseum.berkeley.edu/exhibitions/ncc/gallery_1_2_1_2.html

Wescott, David, ed.  Primitive Technology - A Book of Earth Skills. Gibbs Smith, Layton, Utah: 1999.  pp 214-219, Callahan, Errett,  pp 221, Foresi, Robert, pp 222-224, Kern, Norm.

Wescott, David, ed.  Primitive Technology - 2 Ancestral Skills. Gibbs Smith, Layton, Utah: 2001.  pp 47-50, Allen, Jim.