Paracas Spear-Thrower

Part of Hall of South American Peoples.

At the end of the rod of this spear-thrower is a human head, finely-carved with a prominent nose.

This Late Paracas (circa 100 BC) spear-thrower is made of whalebone, and the thumb rest was carved from a sperm whale’s tooth. A drawing in the Early Hunters case in the first section of this hall shows how hunters or warriors used these to propel spears with great speed, momentum, and accuracy.

The thumb rest was carved in the form of a human head with a forehead ornament. A similar forehead ornament, made from a thin sheet of gold, can be seen to the right in this same case.