Event 60

11,000 years ago

Holmegaard Bow
This is an image of a replica of one of the earliest bows, Holmegaard Bows, which were made in Denmark and Germany about 10,000 years ago.
Credit: Photo by Michael Frank, courtesy of Occoquan Paleotechnics, LLC.

The bow and arrow allows a hunter to shoot an animal from a greater distance with stealth and greater accuracy, and when combined with poison an arrow can become a lethal hypodermic needle. Although smallish projectile points which could have served as arrowheads can be found in the Upper Palaeolithic between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, there is no clear evidence of archery until after the end of the Ice Age nearly 11,000 years ago. This evidence includes actual examples of bows and arrows from waterlogged sites in Germany and Scandinavia as well as scenes in Spanish rock art, particularly along the eastern Mediterranean coast and dating to between 10,000 and 5,000 years ago, which often depict people hunting animals with bows and arrows.

06 060 002microlith
This is a line sketch of an Ahrensburg point from Germany.
Credit: Image by José-Manuel Benito, Courtesy of Wikipedia.

At Stellmoor in Germany, wooden bow fragments were found as well as pine arrow shafts. At Holmegaard in Denmark, a complete bow made out of elm was recovered from this bog locality. Stone arrowheads during this time were made from either small geometric microliths, often made from segments of blades, or small bifacial points.




We have actual examples of wooden bows and arrows in the late Palaeolithic which continue into the postglacial prehistoric record in northern Europe, as well as graphic rock paintings in Spain of archery hunts.



The bow and arrow was a very important innovation for hunter-gatherers, and this technology ultimately spread to most parts of the world (with the exception of Australia and Tasmania, where humans still relied on spear technology into historical times). In tropical areas such as Africa and South America poisons were used on arrows to deliver a more fatal injury to the prey.





06 060 003bowarrowrockart

Rock art found in Spain clearly depicts archery used in hunting.

Credit: David J. Bromley, Lecture 2

















This is a good article about early bows and arrows.

This is a Discovery channel article about early weapon usage.

This is a line drawing of the Valltorta cave paintings of bow and arrow hunting.

This is an article titled, “Bow and Arrow invented in South Africa?”

This is an article about “How the bow and arrow helped humans to colonize the world.”



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