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Discussion Starter #1
Well, the forum header does say "History".

I'm visiting this 'History' forum for the first time...so if my question is out of line....let me know.

But, if not ..........the answer to "how old is archery" is something I have been interested in yet never took the time to dig it up.

Does anyone here know? 7,000 years? 10,000? just how far back?


And, as long as I'm asking for really really old stuff........does anyone have an approximate time (era?) that whitetail deer date to?

Surely, fossil bones must have been found pre-dating 50,000yrs ago.....but, anybody know just how far back?
 

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Probably the oldest identifiable bows found to date were recovered from bogs in northern Europe dating from about 8000 years ago.

That illustrates the problem actually. Bows are rarely if ever preserved.

Even those from relatively recent times, such as Henry VIII's reign weren't known until the cache aboard the Mary Rose wreck was discovered. Before then the only known specimens were one or two broken pieces found at one or two places and barely recognizable as bows.

So it's really impossible to say when bows were first invented or where.

Arrowheads are usually preserved if they're made from stone, however, identifying them as such can sometimes be problematic since the same size heads might have been affixed to the darts thrown by atl atl sticks.

Nor should we assume that because the oldest specimens might have been found in Europe that Europeans invented the bow. It's likely specimens might be found elsewhere as old or older if people were to look for them.

The bow has been used traditionally on practically every continent in the world with the possible exception of Australia.

One of the mysteries of bow development, at least to me, is how the composite bow was invented in the absence of flexible saplings typical of forests to illustrate the principle. I think it might be one of the most sophisticated examples of human imagination ever observed.

As for whitetail deer, I really don't know for sure but I'd suspect they might be found in their current form contemporary with the Pleistocene, two to three million years ago.

Pronghorn on the other hand are distinctly older, probably dating from the Pliocene maybe eleven or twelve million years ago.

I'm pretty confident, however, that few contemporary species are much older than six or seven million years because that's the usual average in the overall fossil record and many might be a good deal younger, dating from the Pleistocene because that corresponds to the ice ages that would have wiped out many older pliocene species.
 

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who was the manufacturer ? is he still in bussiness?
 

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An FYI

The Iceman, found on the northern border of Italy in the Alps, was carrying arrows and likely a bow when he died and was buried by snow and ice, sometime in that last glaciation. There is an excellent article on this in one of the three volumes of "The traditional Bowyer's Bible" I can't recall which volume, but it discusses the archery tackle of the Iceman at length. So there are actual examples of archery equipment that date from at least 10,000 BC.

There also are a lot of other article about the iceman out there, since his burial in the ice effectively mummified him, and scientists are learning a lot about paleolithic man from his remains. There also have been a number of specials on television. A web search will likely turn up a lot of information.

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #6
....how old is archery....

Thanx fellas' ....appreciate your responses.

Another line of thought that perhaps one of you can inform on: What about the cave art? Is any of that paleolithic? Can any illustrations of archers in that medium help date the use of the bow?
 

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Cave art or petroglyphs are notoriously difficult to date reliably. So the best the art will provide in most instances is some date perhaps prior to the Neolithic, based in no small part on the faunas depicted along with the archers. Whether that would be Upper Paleolithic or Mesolithic is difficult to assertain and there is much dispute about such datings.

The problem stems from datable layers of occupancy in the cave not being corrolated with the art except in a very broad fashion. The situation is worse with petroglyphs outside of caves where differential erosion estimates might not yield reliable dates because of changes in climate among other things. So it's pretty much guess work with a wide margin of error.

Some authors, like Robert Hardy, have asserted a date of 50,000 years ago based on the presence of arrowheads at that level, however, as previously noted, those types of heads might have been used on throwing stick (atl atl) darts so they are not conclusive evidence of archery.

About all we can confidently say is that some form of the arrow probably predated the bow, perhaps by tens of thousands of years. At some point people began to use bows to launch arrows and archery was born.

My own suspicion is that it might have arose at various places and times, perhaps repeatably in the same cultures, over the last 20,000 years or so, in Eurasia, Africa and the Americas, but I really don't have anything but a gut guess to support that suspicion at this point. It certainly isn't supported by cave art so far.

If anyone else knows of unequivocably dated art depicting archers in that period or earlier, please share that with us and thanks in advance.
 
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