Thursday, June 12, 2008
This story focuses on an interesting analysis (if still somewhat speculative) concerning just how Native Americans developed the bow and arrow. This weapon system evolved in many cultures around the world and had as its predecessor the atlatl, or spear thrower. University of Missouri archaeologists have documented a wide variety of arrow points appearing about 1,500 years ago, which then were "necked down" to a few types. Their conclusion is that, once the concept of the bow had been developed, artisans tried many different types of points, mated with many varieties of shafts (not preserved). With no understanding of the theory involved, Native Americans went through periods of trial and error before finding a good combination of factors including shaft length and thickness, point size and shape, and design of the bow itself. Once the bow was mature, it quickly displaced the atlatl and became the premier weapon for combat as well as hunting.