I thought the atlatl was a big technological breakthrough when it was invented. How come later armies using a throwing spear (javelin) did not use a spear-thrower?
p.s. I know the Aztecs and other meso-americans used them. “Atlatl” is a Nahuatal word.
Australian aboriginals used a woomera for the same purpose.
Roman soldiers used a leather strap wrapped around javelins, but that was to impart spin not distance. As their purpose was to be flung just before impact, accuracy was more important than range.
In one of Graves’ Claudius books (and it has been years since I read either of them) I remember him specifically stating that some of the Germanic tribes used atlatls against the Legion.
I’d guess it has to do with tactics. The atlatl has been around in Europe for some time. This site shows an example from the upper paleolithic. I believe that the ancient greeks used the spear or javelin as a defence against cavalry in the phalanx. The invention of the bow and arrow made the spear or javelin obsolete as a routine artillary weapon (distance weapon). Still good hunting.