Early Weapons

The primitive stone tools from the Paleolithic era (2.6 million years BC – 10,000 BC) included weapons (See January 3rd post). Although most tools/weapons discovered are stone, wood and bone tools were also in use. Leather and plant fibers would also have been used but remains do not survive. Remains of wooden spears were discovered in Germany that date back 400,000 years. (see pic) Large and small animal bones have been found at numerous ancient sites. The bones had been cracked so that the nutritious marrow had been removed. Unfortunately, there is evidence at some sites that man himself was prey. Human bones, especially the meaty thighs, have been discovered that have been butchered and cracked open.

An interesting tool that greatly improved the range of weapons was the atlatl. The atlatl is a spear thrower that uses leverage to increase the velocity of the dart or spear being thrown. (see pic) The shaft of the atlatl has a cup or spur at one end that supports the dart. The thrower clasps the other end of the atlatl and uses the upper arm and wrist to throw the dart. An atlatl-thrown dart can reach speeds of 93 mph and travel up to 90 yards, but are most effective at 20 yards. The atlatl allows hunting by women and children and is still popular today. 

Tomorrow, The Advent of Metalworking       Rita Bay

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