Long before Sir Isaac Newton first used mathematics to describe the principles of physics, Native people learned how to use tools to help them exceed the limitations of the human body to do work. The Atlatl (derived from the Aztec word Nahuatl, which means spear thrower) was a simple device that helped hunters magnify the force with which they could propel a spear. This invention made its appearance at least 10,000 years ago (8,000 B.C.) and was in wide use during the Archaic Period (8,000 to 1,000 B.C.). Before then, the name of the game (survival) was to get as close to one’s prey as possible. The Atlatl’s handle, with a hooked tip to help hold the end of the spear, had the practical effect of lengthening the arm of the hunter. They could now throw their spears farther, and with greater force, than before.
The Archaic Period was marked by leaps forward in technology from the Paleoindian Period (12,000 to 8,000 B.C.), including the development of stone tools like axes and grinding stones. During this period they also began to cultivate plants for food.