With the special early archery season for deer about to open in the Southern Zone (Oct. 16), I thought it might be interesting to review the history of what we commonly refer to as “primitive weapons,” which the vertical bow is classified as. But just how “primitive” are those weapons we hunters use today?
With all due respect to Ally Oop and his club, probably the earliest weapon was man’s bare hands, then in progression came a rock, club, throwing spear, and the atlatl (an improvement over the throwing spear) .
Thanks to the Robin Hood legend, we tend to think the long bow originated in England, but the oldest arrow heads were discovered in Africa and were dated to be from before 25,000 BC. Scientists have theorized that the bow was created as an off-shoot of the spear-thrower. Somewhere around 25,000 - 8,000 BC, man began to use fire to further harden his stone arrowheads and added feathers to his arrows in order to improve accuracy.
In Italy, a skeleton was found in a burial tomb with a fragment of a flint arrowhead lodged in its pelvis. It was dated to from around 11,000 BC. Arrow shafts are found in Germany and were dated to be from 9,000 BC. Bows found in Denmark are dated to be from 8,000-6,000 BC. They were made from one piece of Yew or Elm. Drawings from 7500 to 5,000 BC show that the Egyptians used bows for hunting and warfare.
In 1991, the body of a 45-year-old man was discovered on the present-day border between Italy and Austria and dated to be from 3,300 BC. He was dressed in a leather cloth, a waterproof cloak made of grasses and carried a framed backpack, a utility belt with tools, a quiver of 14 arrows, a knife made from flint and a copper axe. The axe caused much interest as its age pre-dated the previous estimations of the development of smelting copper by 1000 years. His wooden arrows had flint arrowheads and the quiver included a flap to keep the feathers dry. His body and hair tissues were analyzed and found to contain high amounts of copper and arsenic, by-products of smelting copper ore.