Origins Of Archery In The Middle Stone Age History Essay

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Archery seemed to be first invented in either the Old Stone Age or the Middle Stone Age, although some stone points were found in Africa that could have been arrowheads that were made about sixty thousand years ago. The earliest made bows were two bows found in Holmegaard Swamp in Denmark. The two Holmegaard bows were made using elm wood and have the characteristics of flat arms and a D-shaped midsection along with a biconvex center section. The physics behind why elm wood was used as the material for the two bows was because of its strong tension compared to compression, which means elm wood can hold up in complex bow designs. The reason for the flat limbs of the two bows are so the bow does not recurve as the string is being pulled back and they are typically shorter than a longbow, meaning they can be used on horseback. The lengths of the bows are five feet long, and the Holmegaard bows were in use until the Bronze Age, which lasted from 3300 BC until 1200 BC.

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Pointed shafts dated back to the Old Stone Age were found in England, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. Most common lengths of the pointed shafts were up to four feet, and the shafts were made from European hazel, Wayfaring Tree, and other small woody shoots. Some pointed shafts had flint arrow heads preserved while others had blunt wooden ends for hunting small birds and game. There was also evidence of fletching, which were fastened with birch-tar, a substance derived from the dry distillation of birch wood. Fletching is the stabilization of arrows and darts using materials such as feathers, fletching can refer to any structure added to a projectile in order to stabilize its flight.

There are signs of archery in many ancient cultures around the world. In Egyptian culture, bows and arrows have been present since its predynastic origins. Archery was even a part of the “Nine Bows” which symbolizes the myriad of people who have been ruled over by the pharaoh since Egypt was united into an empire. In the Eastern Mediterranean, which includes Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Palestinian territories, Jordan, Cyprus, Sinai, and a part of Iraq, artifacts were uncovered that seems to be arrow-shaft straighteners from the Natufian culture in the Middle Stone Age onwards. People also hypothesize that Khiamian and Pre-Potter Neolithic Age’s “Khiam-points” are arrowheads used for archery. The Persians, Parthians, Indians, Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese (the “classical civilizations”) trained vast numbers of archers in their armies. The use of archers are effective against mass formations and sometimes prove to be the decisive edge to any battle. The Sanskrit name for archery, dhanurveda, translates to martial arts and the root word, “dhanus,” means bow.

History of archery in Egypt

As early as five thousand years ago, the Egyptian people have used archery for their needs. By the time of the earliest pharaohs, archery was already widespread and was already being practiced for use in hunting and in warfare. Some Egyptian deities are connected to archery and some legendary figures were depicted on hieroglyphics as “giving lessons on archery.” The Egyptian’s archer is called the pítati, who were a group of archers used by the Egyptian Empire. The pítati were often requested or dispatched to help Egyptian vassals in the Canaan region, which contains Israel, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, and also consisted of parts of Jordan, Syria, and northeastern Egypt.

History of archery in the Middle East

Mesopotamia and the Indian subcontinent also used the bow and arrow, but for chariots so they can become vehicles of warfare. In Mesopotamia, Assyrians and Babylonians comprehensively used the bow and arrow. The Old Testament that was written during that time period referred to archery as a skill identified with the ancient Hebrews. The Kassites’s chariot warriors relied heavily on the bow and arrow, Nuzi texts detailed the bows and the number of arrows assigned to each chariot crew. The bow and arrow is known as the Indian’s classical weapon for warfare, from when the Vedas sacred texts were being made until the advent of Islam. The Aryans used bows and arrows, often on war chariots, which is the earliest and simplest type of carriage. In the ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, the hymns emphasize about archery and the use of bows and arrows. Early training methodologies in early India stresses the concern of archery, which is considered to be a martial skill in early India. Drona, the Indian legendary figure who was a master of advanced military arts, was shown as a master of archery. Indian mythological figures like Arjuna, Eklavya, Karna, Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughan are also associated to archery.

History of archery in China

The Chinese have been using archery since the Shang Dynasty, or Yin Dynasty, that started around 1600 BC. The categories for Shang army officers included the ya and shi (commanders), the ma (chariot officers), and the she (archery officers). The Chinese, like the Egyptians, used war chariots with archers for battle. During the Zhou Dynasty, archery competitions were held in the presence of loyalty and nobles. Works on history, music, ritual, archery, and other significant topics were written on bamboo or wood by the end of the Zhou Dynasty.

History of archery in Korea

Ancient Korean civilizations were well-known for their archery skills, and South Korea is still a strong opponent in Olympic archery competitions today. The Korean bow, which is called hwal, is made from a water buffalo horn and is a composite bow. A composite bow is a bow that is considered as the most advanced bow and is capable of storing more energy than other bows. Gungsul, also written as goongsul, means “the craft of the bow” and is also called Korean traditional archery. While fighting with Chinese dynasties and nomadic people since the 1st century BC, the bow was the most important weapon. Able to catch five flies with one arrow, the legends talk about the king and founder of the ancient Korean kingdom Goguryeo, Go Jumong who was said to be a master of archery. The first king of the Silla, Park Hyeokgeose was also said to be a skilled archer in history.

Until the Japanese invasions of Korea, the main long-range weapon system was archery. But it became apparent in the war that the matchlock musket had tactical superiority, despite its slow rate of fire and susceptibility to wet climates. An attempt was made to revive horse archery as a significant war weapon for the military under King Hyojong’s reforms. The attempt was made to nothing even after the King Hyojong’s sudden death in 1659 because there have been no definite use of archery in later military actions. But until the military reforms of 1894, archery was a significant part of military examination for Korea. Archery was also practiced for personal use, pleasure or health, and many young males – including the king – would practice archery as a hobby to spend their free time. Prince Heinrich of Prussia articulated his bewilderment to Emperor Gojong at a traditional archery tournament in 1899 when the prince visited Korea. Impressed, Emperor Gojong decreed “let people enjoy archery to develop their physical strength” and assembled an archery club building.

In the revival of Korean archery, the bow and arrow became standardized along with the range of the targets. Korean traditional archery now uses a specific type of bow, the composite bow, along with bamboo arrows and a standard target is now at a distance of about 145 meters. The reason for bamboo arrows is that the arrows use the durability and flexibility of bamboo and it is also lightweight which makes for faster speeds and greater range. The Korean bow is a highly reflexed version of the classic Eurasion composite bow.

The core of the Korean bow is made of bamboo, which is also sinew backed, with oak at the handle. The materials were the best around the Koreans that can be used for the best durability and stability. On the belly is water buffalo horn, which is used to add certain rigidity to the bow. Made of either mulberry or black locust spliced onto bamboo are the stiffened outer edges of the limbs. Fish air-bladder is the material used to create the glue. An out of the ordinary birch bark that is imported from Northeast China is put over the sinew backing of the bow, the special birch bark is soaked in sea water for possibly one year. Out of the ordinary birch bark is applied to the sinew back using diluted rubber cement. For the Korean bow, no sights or contemporary attachments are added on to the bow.

The draw weights of the Korean bow fluctuate, but most are more than twenty kilograms. The cost of a Korean bow of that type would be in the US eight hundred dollar range. For a similar version made of laminated fiberglass, the cost is US two hundred to three hundred dollars. For most competitions, either the Korean composite bow made up of water buffalo horn or the similar version made of laminated fiberglass can be used with carbon-fiber arrows for shooting. But as for national competitions, only the composite bow made of water buffalo horn can be used along with bamboo arrows. In the Olympics and other competitions with more up to date bows, Korean archers have been exceptionally successful.

History of archery in Japan

In Japan, archery is also important and the martial art, KyÅ«dō, was fashioned for use of a bow and arrows. KyÅ«dō, which literally means “way of the bow,” is the Japanese art of archery. KyÅ«dōka, who are people who practice kyÅ«dō, got their name by the contemporary martial art they put into practice. There is an estimation of approximately half a million practitioners of kyÅ«dō in the present day. In 2005, the International KyÅ«dō Federation had one hundred thirty-two thousand seven hundred sixty graded members. In addition to the International KyÅ«dō Federation, kyÅ«dō is taught at Japanese schools and a quantity of traditions abstains from federation membership.

The beginning of archery in Japan is pre-historical. From the Yayoi period, which is from five hundred BC to three hundred AD, the earliest molded metal images with distinct Japanese asymmetrical longbow were completed. The Chinese chronicle Weishu, which was dated before 297 AD, is about the Japanese isles people who use “a wooden bow that is short from the bottom and long from the top,” for the duration of those times, the bow began to be utilized for warfare in accumulation to hunting. Adopted from China, the ceremonial use of the bow continued in Japan even after it ended in China. The Japanese also adopted the composite technique of bow manufacturing by gluing simultaneously horn, wood, and animal sinew as materials.

The changing of the general public and the military division captivating power in the closing stages of the first millennium fashioned a requirement in education of archery. This led to Henmi Kiyomitsu in the twelfth century founding the first kyÅ«dō ryÅ«ha, the Henmi-ryÅ«. Henmi Kiyomitsu’s descendants later founded the Takeda-ryÅ« and the Ogasawara-ryÅ«, the mounted archery school. During the Genpei War, which lasted from 1180 to 1185, the requirement for archers developed dramatically and, the originator of Ogasawara-ryÅ«, Ogasawara Nagakiyo, began instructing yabusame, which is mounted archery.

From the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, Japan was ravaged by a civil war. In the preceding fraction of the fifteenth century, Heki Danjō Masatsugu revolutionized archery with his innovative and accurate approach called hi, kan, chÅ« and his footmen’s archery broadened promptly. Heki-ryÅ« Chikurin-ha, Heki-ryÅ« Sekka-ha and Heki-ryÅ« Insai-ha were created then and are still there in the present day.

When the first Europeans arrived in Japan in 1542, the use of the bow as a weapon of war has ended. But even though the bow became outdated, it still stayed beside the arquebus, a rifle-type firearm that succeeded the musket, because of its longer range, precision, and it was thirty to forty times faster than the arquebus. But because the arquebus requires a reduced amount of preparation than a bow, Oda Nobunaga’s army consisting of primarily farmers equipped with arquebuses annihilated a traditional samurai archer cavalry in a single encounter in 1575.

From 1603 to 1868, the Tokugawa period, Japan was changed internally as a hierarchical social group society where the samurai are on the pinnacle. Although the conventional fighting skills were still well-regarded, there was a comprehensive period of tranquility during which the samurai transferred to administrative obligation. During this episode archery became a “voluntary” ability, experienced partially in the court in ceremonial appearance, partially as different kinds of competition. The skill of using a bow and arrow is also spread outside the warrior group. Introduced by Chinese monks, the straightforward philosophy and endeavor for self control in Zen Buddhism affected the samurai. Previous archery had been known by the name kyÅ«jutsu, which is the skill of bow, but monks acting even as martial arts teachers led to the construction of a new concept: kyÅ«dō.

In the beginning of the Meiji period from 1868 to 1912, the revolution brought by Japan exposing itself to the outside world caused the samurai to plummet down from their position at the pinnacle of society. As a result of Japan opening up to the outside world, all martial arts, including kyūdō, experienced a significant diminish in instruction and appreciation of their teachings. In 1896, an assembly of kyūdō masters assembled together in an attempt to protect traditional archery. The kyūdō teacher, Honda Toshizane, for the Imperial University of Tokyo, combined the war and ceremonial shooting styles of a bow and arrow, generating a crossbreed called Honda-ryū. It took, however, until 1949 before the All Japanese Kyūdō Federation was produced since Honda Toshizane made his crossbreed shooting style for archery. Guiding principles published in 1953, kyūdō kyōhon, defined how, in a competition or commencement, archers from individual schools can discharge arrows together in integrated appearance.

Japanese bows date back to the primitive era, the Jōmon Period. The elongated, one of its kind asymmetrical bow style with the grip underneath the center materialized during the Yayoi culture, which was from 300 BC to 300 AD. Bows and arrows became the representation of influence and supremacy. The renowned, earliest emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, is always portrayed carrying a bow.

The utilization of the bow and arrow had been on foot until approximately the fourth century when elite armed forces took to combating on horseback with bows and swords. In the tenth century, samurai would have archery spars on horseback. They would charge at each other and attempt to shoot at least three arrows. These duels did not automatically have to end in casualty, as long as honor was contented.

One of the most famous and celebrated incidents of Japanese mounted archery took place during the Genpei War, started from 1180 to 1185, which was a impressive effort for supremacy between the Heike and Genji clans that was to have a key impact on Japanese culture, its society, and its politics. At the Battle of Yashima, that took place on March 22, 1185, the Heike fled to Yashima and ran to their boats when they were defeated by the Genji clan. The Genji clan closely followed the Heike clan by using horses, but the Genji were forced to stop because of the sea.

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As the Heike waited for the winds to be right, they presented a fan hung from a mast of one of their boats as a target for any Genji clan archer to fire at in a motion of courteous rivalry between enemies. Nasu Yoichi, one of the Genji clan’s samurai, acknowledged the challenge. He rode his horse into the sea and shot the fan through with an arrow. Nasu became really famous and his achievement is still celebrated nowadays.

During the Kamakura era, during the time period 1192 to 1334, mounted archery was utilized as a military preparation exercise to keep samurai prepared for war. The archers who performed inadequately might find themselves commanded to commit seppuku, or ritualistic suicide, in order to keep their family honor and not cause any disgrace. One technique of mounted archery was inuoumono, where they fired arrows at dogs. Buddhist priests were able to triumph over the samurai, and had the arrows padded so that the dogs were only irritated and battered instead of being killed. This style of mounted archery is no longer performed because of the endangerment to dogs.

Early history of archery in Europe

The citizens of Crete trained in archery and Cretan mercenary archers were in enormous demand. Crete was known for its continuous tradition of archery. The Greek god Apollo is the god of archery; Apollo is also god of plague and the sun, figuratively thought of as shooting invisible arrows. Artemis is the goddess of natural places and hunting. Odysseus and additional mythological people are frequently portrayed with a bow for archery.

During the invasion of India, Alexander the Great personally took control of the shield-bearing guards, foot soldiers, archers, Agrianians, and horse-javelin men and commanded them in opposition to the Kamboja clans, the Aspasios of Kunar valleys, the Guraeans of the Guraeus, also called Panjkora, valley, and the Assakenois of the Swat and Buner valleys.

The early Romans had extremely little or close to no archers. As their empire grew, they recruited secondary archers from additional nations. Julius Caesar’s armies in Gaul incorporated Cretan archers, and his enemy, Vercingetorix, ordered, “all the archers, of whom there was a very great number in Gaul, to be collected.” By the three hundreds, archers with strong composite bows were an ordinary part of Roman armies all the way through the empire. After the collapse of the western empire, the Romans came under relentless pressure from the extremely experienced mounted archers from the Hun intruders, and later, Eastern Roman armies relied a great deal on mounted archery.

Archery in the Middle Ages of Europe

Throughout the Middle Ages, archery in warfare was not as widespread and dominant in Western Europe as accepted legends sometimes explain. Archers were quite frequently the lowest rewarded soldiers in an army or were conscripted when they were peasants. This was due to the inexpensive temperament of the bow and arrow. Compared to the expenditure needed to provide a professional man-at-arms with high quality armor and a sword, professional archers required a lifetime of instruction and expensive bows to be successful, and so were generally uncommon in Europe. The bow was hardly ever used to decide battles and repeatedly seen as a lower class weapon, or as a plaything, by the upper class. However, amongst the Vikings, even royalty such as Magnus Barelegs performed archery successfully, and the Muslims used archery, most likely also in their frequent raiding journeys all over the Western European coastline, in the ninth and tenth centuries.

By the time the Hundred Years’ War happened, the English had learned how to make use of massed archery as an instrument of tactical domination, with their English longbows. As one of the ways of encouraging archery, tournaments were held with rewards for the winners. Because of these tournaments and other methods that promoted archery, there were numerous incentives and lots of motivation to become an expert with the English longbow and all of the abundant English kings were able to conscript these professional archers every year.

The crossbow, which is a variation of the classical types of bows currently in use, became somewhat popular for the duration of the Middle Ages. However, because of the distinguished armor-piercing power of the crossbow implanted fear in the midst of the well-armored nobility and the crossbow was banned by the Second Council of the Lateran, although to little benefit, as the crossbow was still being utilized.

Components of a bow

The basic fundamentals of a bow are a pair of arched, stretchy limbs, usually made from wood, connected by a string. By pulling the string backwards, the archer applies a compressive force on the inner section, or belly, of the limbs as well as making the outer section, or back, be put under tension. While the string is kept in place, this stores the energy that is later on released in putting the arrow to flight. The bow’s draw weight, which is the force required to hold the string in place at full draw, is frequently used to show the power of a bow. While everything else is equivalent, a superior draw weight means that the bow is that much more powerful than a bow with a inferior draw weight. A higher draw weight defines a bow’s capability to shoot heavier arrows, shoot arrows at a faster velocity, and that the bow has a longer range.

In bows drawn and held by hand, the greatest draw weight is determined by the power of the archer. The size of the archer determines the highest distance the string could be displaced and it also determines the longest arrow that can be shot by the archer. For bows drawn and held mechanically, the maximum draw weight is determined by how efficient the engineering is. The mechanical force that is essential to draw the string back was primarily restricted by the time required to do so.

The limbs of the bow have to undergo constant bending into a deep curve. The tips of the limbs may consist of a single curve for the longbow, or in the case of the recurve bow, be bent back upon themselves. The recurve bow allows for better draw weight with shorter limbs, but the draw weight on shorter limbs places bigger strain on the limb materials and may increase string noise when fired. Decurve bows, where the tips of the limbs are bent towards the archer, present lower draw weights but may be prepared with moderately meager materials.

The substantial strain positioned on the limbs of the bow when drawn requires long lasting, strong materials with immense tensile strength and extensibility on the backside of the bow. The strain on the limbs of the bow also requires enormous compressive strength and compressibility on the belly of the bow. Wood is easily obtained, reasonably well for both the back and belly components of a bow and effortlessly shaped; self bows consisting of a single material are frequently constructed out of wood. Extensive thought must be made in deciding for a single material, and complicated techniques were developed to triumph over this predicament. The flatbow’s cross section is shaped to broaden stress more consistently, and the yew that is used in English longbows was slanted to take advantage of the capability of the heartwood to accumulate energy in compression, and the outer sapwood’s power in tension.

A composite bow uses an arrangement of materials to create the limbs, permitting the use of materials specialized for the diverse functions of a bow limb. The typical composite bow employs wood for lightness and dimensional steadiness in the core, horn to stockpile energy in compression, and sinew for its capability to accumulate energy in tension. While composite limbs permit bigger draw length with shorter limbs, they are naturally less tough than a wooden limb. Composite bows are prepared with water-soluble glue and may possibly be damaged by contact to moisture.

The string that bonds the tips of the limbs is under a significant amount of stress when the bow is drawn. The string is supposed to break only at four to five times the draw weight of its bow. An ideal string material is that its sturdy for its mass, opposes stretching, and remains tough after experiencing moisture contact. Contemporary artificial polymers are completely resistant to moisture, have outstanding mechanical properties, and are incredibly inexpensive to manufacture.

Types of arrows

The most ordinary appearance of an arrow is made up of a shaft with an arrowhead placed on the front end and with fletching and a nock attached to the other end. Shafts are normally composed of solid wood, fiberglass, aluminium alloy, carbon fiber, or composite materials. Wooden arrows are vulnerable to warping. Fiberglass arrows are breakable, but can be fashioned to standardized specifications without difficulty. Aluminum shafts were an extremely admired high-performance option in the second half of the twentieth century due to their straightness, lighter weight, and higher velocity and flatter course. Carbon fiber arrows became well liked in the 1990s and are incredibly light, flying even more rapidly and flatter than aluminum arrows. Today, the arrows that are most popular tournament arrows at Olympic events are arrows that are created from composite materials.


Bows function by exchanging elastic potential energy accumulated in the limbs into the kinetic energy of the arrow. In this process, some force is lost through elastic hysteresis, dropping the general amount of energy released when the bow is shot. For the energy remaining, some of it is absorbed by both the limbs of bow and the bowstring. Depending on the elasticity of the arrows, some of the force is also absorbed by condensing the arrow, causing it to bow out to one side. Bowing out the arrow creates the outcome of an in-flight oscillation of the arrow in which its center sticks out to one side and then the other side repeatedly, steadily slowing down as the arrow’s flight reaches its end. The oscillation can be distinctly seen in a high-speed photography of an arrow in flight. Current arrows are manufactured to a specified spine, or stiffness rating.

The straight trajectory of an arrow depends on its fletching. The arrow’s manufacturer can position fletching to cause the arrow to revolve along its axis. This improves accuracy by evening pressure buildups that would cause the arrow to gradually tilt in a random direction after firing. If the fletching is not arranged to encourage rotation, it will still improve accuracy by causing a restoring torque any time the arrow travels outside of its flight path.

Arrows themselves may be created to broaden or concentrate force, depending on their functions. Practice arrows utilize a blunt tip that spreads the force over a wider area to reduce the possibility of injury. Arrows intended to pierce armor in the Middle Ages would use an extremely narrow and sharp tip to concentrate the force. Arrows used for hunting would use a narrow tip that broadens further down the shaft to make both penetration and a large wound.

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