Discussion d’un cadre chronologique pour l’utilisation du propulseur et de l’arc

Author(s): Jean Pierre Lansac

Year: 2001


J. Whittaker: [“On a chronological framework for the use of the spearthrower and the bow.” In French] Hunting weapons (spears) are known from at least Middle Paleolithic times, and common opinion is that spearthrowers begin at least by Solutrean, but bow not until Mesolithic. Two methods of evaluating this chronology: “direct” evidence of the weapons themselves, and “indirect” evidence of the projectile points compared to ethnographic and experimental information. Describes basic use, and male, female, and “androgenous” hook types.

First French Upper Paleolithic spearthrower finds by Lartet and Christy at Laugerie-Basse in 1862, recognized by analogy to Australian woomera by Mortillet 1891. Finds now dated from late Solutrean (17,500 BP) to late Magdalenian (12,500 BP). First European bow finds from Swiss lake dwellings [Neolithic and Bronze Age] in 19th century. Now earliest bows from Mesolithic sites like Stellmoor (Germany, ca 11,000 BP) and Holmegaard (Denmark). Earliest arrows about same date, from Lila Loshult (Sweden) and Stellmoor.

Points are more difficult to deal with. Solutrean shouldered points have been shown to work well with spearthrowers, which are found in contemporary sites. Others, like Gravette points [small straight points made on retouched blades], were probably projectile tips, but we don’t know whether for bow or atlatl. Experiments show they work with either. Some interpret as change to light point for arrow, but no direct evidence. Ethnographic Eskimo use both bow and atlatl for different purposes – why not an archaeological transition period in Upper Paleolithic? Evidence: Most known ancient bows already sophisticated, thus long ancestry likely. Magdalenian spearthrowers are close in date to Azilian microlithic industry – small stone tools suggesting bows. Bone tools become scarce, but atlatls could be all wood and not preserved.

[Brief, few details, but useful compilation of dates, bibliography].

Cite this Record

Discussion d’un cadre chronologique pour l’utilisation du propulseur et de l’arc. Jean Pierre Lansac. . University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux. 2001 ( tDAR id: 423379)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

URL: http://perso.wanadoo.fr/archeries/MEMOIRE.htm


Atlatl bow & arrow Hunting Weapon

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -4.777; min lat: 41.367 ; max long: 9.553; max lat: 51.091 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): EXARC Experimental Archaeology Collection Manager

Record Identifiers

ExArc Id(s): 10190


Rights & Attribution: The information in this record was originally compiled by Dr. Roeland Paardekooper, EXARC Director.