Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Early Humans Experimented To Get Bow And Arrow Just Right, Findings Suggest

Date:
June 11, 2008
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
When the "cutting-edge" technology of the bow and arrow was introduced to the world, it changed the way humans hunted and fought. Archaeologists have discovered that early man, on the way to perfecting the performance of this new weapon, engaged in experimental research, producing a great variety of projectile points in the quest for the best, most effective system.

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

In today's fast-paced, technologically advanced world, people often take the innovation of new technology for granted without giving much thought to the trial-and-error experimentation that makes technology useful in everyday life. When the "cutting-edge" technology of the bow and arrow was introduced to the world, it changed the way humans hunted and fought. University of Missouri archaeologists have discovered that early man, on the way to perfecting the performance of this new weapon, engaged in experimental research, producing a great variety of projectile points in the quest for the best, most effective system.

Related Articles


"Technological innovation and change has become a topic that interests people," said R. Lee Lyman, professor and chair of the University of Missouri Department of Anthropology. "When the bow and arrow appeared in North America, roughly 1,500 years ago, it eventually replaced the atlatl (spear thrower) and dart. The introduction of the bow and arrow, a different weapon delivery system, demanded some innovative thinking and technology. In other words, one could not just shoot a dart from a bow. Components like the shaft and arrow point needed to be reinvented."

Because the necessary flight dynamics and mechanics of the arrow wouldn't have been fully understood, the indigenous people at the time would have experimented--trying all sorts of points with different types of shafts, attempting to discover the best combinations. This reinvention process can be seen archaeologically through an increase in the number and variation of projectile points--indicating the transition period between the atlatl and the bow and arrow.

"Everyone is looking for the better mouse trap," Lyman said. "Once a change is made in one variable, it may prompt changes in another variable because the two are mechanically linked. For example, if something gets longer, generally, it will get heavier. This is called a cascade effect. This, in combination with experimentation, resulted in the tremendous variation in projectile points."

Lyman said there is evidence of an initial burst of variation in projectile points at the time bow-and-arrow technology was introduced and that prehistoric artisans experimentally sought arrow points that worked effectively. Following that initial burst, less-effective projectile models were discarded, causing archaeologists to see a reduction in variation.

In the course of this research, Lyman and his collaborators, T.L VanPool and M.J. O'Brien, analyzed the data from more than 1,000 projectile points from three separate geographical locations. Lyman's study, "Variation in North American dart points and arrow points when one, or both are present," will be published in an issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science in fall 2008.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Early Humans Experimented To Get Bow And Arrow Just Right, Findings Suggest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080610165057.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2008, June 11). Early Humans Experimented To Get Bow And Arrow Just Right, Findings Suggest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080610165057.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Early Humans Experimented To Get Bow And Arrow Just Right, Findings Suggest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080610165057.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) — A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) — A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) — Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins