Skip to comments.Complex Thinking Behind the Bow and Arrow
Posted on 06/26/2012 8:18:46 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Using archaeological finds and ethnological parallels, the two researchers reconstructed the steps needed to make a bow and arrows. These are complimentary tools -- separate, but developed interdependently. The bow is the controlling element, while the arrows can be used more flexibly and are interchangeable. About 2.5 million years ago, humans first used tools to make other tools then to make tools assembled from different parts to make a unit with particular qualities, such as wooden spears with stone spearheads (ca. 200,000-300,000 years ago.) The bow and arrow and other complementary tool sets made it possible for prehistoric humans to greatly increase the flexibility of their reactions.
There are many basic complementary tool sets: needle and thread, fishing rod and line, hammer and chisel. The bow and arrow are a particularly complex example. The reconstruction of the technique shows that no less than ten different tools are needed to manufacture a simple bow and arrows with foreshafts. It takes 22 raw materials and three semi-finished goods (binding materials, multi-component glue) and five production phases to make a bow, and further steps to make the arrows to go with it. The study was able to show a high level of complexity in the use of tools at an early stage in the history of homo sapiens.
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencedaily.com ...
It may look simple, but it is a highly complex tool: a Bushman's bow from Botswana. (Credit: Image courtesy of Universitaet Tübingen)
Arrow points (top) were reworked and refined through experimentation, often using dart points (bottom) as a starting place. The difference between the two types of points (size and neck/stem width) can be observed in this photo. (Credit: University of Missouri)
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Pretty clever stuff if you think about it.
A couple of days ago, my five year old twins made a working bow and arrow by themselves! I made them unhappy because I had to take it away ... the arrows were really quite sharp and they could really shoot with it! (I got them some rubber-tipped arrows instead. This “raising young primates” stuff is difficult! LOL!)
We see Intelligent Design all the time. The modern world is built on Intelligent Design. Then, we look at the web of life and some folks think ... "I guess it just kinda happened."
I don't think so.
Every bit as clever as John Browning and I mean that as the highest compliment.
The atlatl is termed a spear-thrower but in actuality an atlatl dart is much more of an arrow than anything you’d call a spear, just a bit bigger. If you assume humans had been using small bows to start fires for some time after they had atlatls, then all you’re really talking about is somebody putting two and two together for four.
What a timely article. I was working with a buddy of mine who is usually on a different shift today. He’s a full-blooded Paiute...told me he has been learning to make bows and arrows of late and it’s been really fascinating. I asked him to put me on the list for one when he completes his. According to him they are made from a single, highly worked, piece of hickory...nice back up for when the SHTF...
the arms race went like this:
club with a rock attached
club with a sharp pointy rock attached
long pointy stick
thrusting spear(pointy stick with a stone tip)
throwing spear(lighter, works from a distance)
atlatl(mini spear that flies further)
simple bow and arrow(mini mini spear that is thrown with little effort)
cross bow and bolt
The arrow is easy to understand how it came about. The bow is a little puzzling. There must’ve been a use for a springy piece of wood prior to the bow and arrow. But I don’t know what it was.
LOL. Wait a few years when they graduate to the internal combustion engine.
Consider this :
First there was the 'sling' that was a string that threw a rock.
Then, they attached a stick to the string, and got more distance.
Then they tried bending the stick, and seeing if they could use the 'spring' of the stick to launch the projectile.
Then they got longer sticks. Then they tried tying down the bent stick (weapon loaded and ready).
Eventually someone tied the string to both ends of the bent over stick. During a struggle over it someone pulled the string back, and then let go. A 'lightbulb' went off in the other's head, and he started dreaming up what kind of projectile could be launched by this new found 'power'.
You know the rest.
A bit off topic, as usual, but there was a scene in “Quest for Fire” where the cavemen ran into some Aborigines. The cavemen had their “magic” (fire) get quenched and were looking for a new source. This Abo girl starts twirling a stick between her hands and after a few minutes smoke, and then flame appeared. The look of amazement and awe on the cavemens’ faces was something to see. One wept at the wonder of it.
I imagine at some point, one genius thought to make a bow and wrap string around the stick and play it like a fiddle to get a higher rotational speed. Then, at some point, another genius said, “Hey, wait a minute!” - and we were on our way to the A-Bomb.
The fact at the bow gets dinner and makes fire to cook it is amazing in itself.
***I made them unhappy because I had to take it away ... the arrows were really quite sharp and they could really shoot with it!***
Back in 1956, we made our own bows and arrows from reed. While playing with them I got hit right under the left eye with one that was sharp.
Thankfully it was 1/2 inch below the pupil. Not long after I got hit with a store bought target point in the shoulder.
How I survived childhood I will never know!
“There mustve been a use for a springy piece of wood prior to the bow and arrow.”
I wonder if some guy, after getting slapped in the face by a branch pushed over from the guy in front of him, figured it out?
I envision a vine crossing a path between two trees.
A wandering human passes by and trips over the vine that springs back to its original position.
The human investigates the cause of his fall and notices that the vine is capable of storing energy. He places his hand on the vine and pulls it back, then places a stick in front of it to hold it in place. When he lets go of the stick, the vine launches the stick several feet away.
After considering this effect, the human makes a portable version that can throw a stick farther and farther. Eventually, a crude but effective stick throwing device is produced.
But now the stick itself must be fine tuned in order to get more range, accuracy and killing force. Straighter sticks fly more distance than bent sticks. Certain types of wood materials produce better sticks. Eventually, through trial and error, a stick with a sharp point, hardened in hot coals is produced. At some point the stick is fletched with feathers to make it fly straight, and eventually the feathers are canted to make the stick spin and improve its accuracy.
From there improvements were made in materials and workmanship until a modern looking bow and arrow were made. The two units had to develop simultaneously with a definite goal in mind.......