If you’ve ever wanted to throw the atlatl or the bola — or you’d just like to know what they are — the Prehistoric Life Festival on Saturday at San Tan Mountain Regional Park can help.
The festival, hosted for the first time at the park by Maricopa County and volunteer groups, celebrates prehistoric technology such as the atlatl — a leveraged spear — and the bola — stones on the end of leather straps.
“It’s a fun way for the public to actually experience prehistoric technology, to see it and do it,” said Janet Golio, a Mesa resident and organizer of the event at the park south of Queen Creek in Pinal County.
Golio will demonstrate and teach bola throwing. The Arizona Archaeological Society member and site steward began studying and making replicas of the prehistoric hunting weapon a few years ago after seeing petroglyphs featuring them.
The society, Site Steward Program, Study of Aboriginal Lifeways and Technologies, Deer Valley Rock Art and Friends of San Tan Mountain Regional Park all will have members on hand. Site stewards such as Golio are volunteers trained to monitor archaeological and paleontological sites and report vandalism.
Audience members at the festival will watch prehistoric technologies such as flint knapping (ar rowheadmaking), fire starting and cotton spinning. Other activities, including atlatl throwing, pottery making, net making, net throwing, rock art and nature hikes, are open for participation. There will be activities for adults and children.
Golio said aspiring atlatl and bola throwers will be surprised at their newfound skill in the ancient arts. “People get really good at it,” she said.
Information on desert critters and a slide presentation on rock art vandalism also will be presented.
Shelley Rasmussen, an interpretive ranger for Maricopa County Parks and Recreation, said it’s important for people to remember the historic cultures represented in rock art.
“It all boils down to education,” she said. “There’s a lot of ignorance out there where they go out and destroy archaeological sites that are 800 or 1,000 years old, and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”
Golio said organizers intend to make the event an annual feature at the park. Saturday marks the second time it has been held; it was first held in 2004 at Cave Creek Regional Park.
Celebrating Prehistoric Technology
What: The Prehistoric Life Festival
Where: San Tan Mountain Regional Park, 6533 W. Phillips Road, off Hunt Highway in Pinal County south of Queen Creek
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $5 per car or $1 per pedestrian for park admission, festival events are free, prepackaged refreshments will be sold as a fundraiser for the Friends of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park. Participants of all ages welcome
Information: Call the park at (480) 655-5554 or Janet Golio at (480) 615-6990