MANCHESTER — Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park will host its 37th Bi-annual Knap-in and Archaeoskills festival May 3-5. A celebration of the ancient arts and archaeoskills, the weekend’s main activities and special programming are slated to begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday and will run until approximately 4:30 p.m. The festival is free and open to the public.
From rope made out of plant fibers and animal products to blowguns and rabbitsticks — use of these items or skills during the Stone Age were essential for survival. All of these skills and practices were passed down from generation to generation.
“Over thousands of years, people in the Southeast practiced and honed skills that were essential for life, including the process of flintknapping” said Old Stone Fort Park Manager Keith Wimberley. “The upcoming festival celebrates these primitive skills and an opportunity to see these ancient arts up close.”
Flintknappers of all skill levels will begin arriving at the park on Friday and will set up on the roof deck of the museum to exchange ideas and materials and demonstrate their craft to the public.
There will be atlatl competitions Friday through Sunday, with opportunities for everyone to try this ancient skill. Atlatls are spear propulsion devices, used for thousands of years before Native Americans began to use the bow and arrow. Atlatls were used all over the world and aided hunters by adding to the velocity of the spear and the impact of the spear on the target.
The Old Stone Fort is a 2000-year-old Native American ceremonial site, which consists of nearly 4,000 feet of low, wall-like mounds enclosing nearly 50 acres. The mounds and walls connect with cliffs and rivers to form an enclosure measuring one-and-a-quarter miles around. The hilltop enclosure was used for approximately 500 years as a gathering area for people living in and around the eastern Highland Rim.
The state archaeological park and museum are located on U.S. Highway 41 in Manchester. From I-24, take Exit 110 and follow the signs to the park entrance, which is approximately 1.5 miles. For more information about Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park, go online to <www.tnstateparks.com/OldStoneFort> or call (931) 723-5073.