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13 April 2018
Reconstructing an ancient lethal weapon

Research recently carried out by the University of Washington (USA) has shed remarkable insight into the hunting skills of hunter-gatherers of the post Ice Age Pleistocene Artic of 12,000 BCE.
     Throughout the world archaeologists have been uncovering the working end of weapons, i.e. the sharp cutting head, made from either bone, antler, ivory or stone/flint. As the shafts attached to these weapons have not survived it has not been known hoe effective each shape was and what the flight ballistic capabilities were.
     Now a team from the University of Washington, headed up by Janice Wood, an anthropology graduate, and Ben Fitzhugh, anthropology professor, has been reconstructing various weapons and experimenting with shafts, to try and understand how they worked.
     They used shafts of various lengths and thicknesses, made from woods that were known to exist in the area at the time. They found that different combinations of heads and shafts had varying effects on different animals, either maiming, slowing down of direct kill. Their research may also have answers to questions surrounding the extinction of animals at different periods, in that they may have been easier to kill than others.
     Their findings have now been published in an article in the Journal of Archaeological Science and Ben Fitzhugh is quoted as saying "The hunter-gatherers of 12,000 years ago were more sophisticated than we gave them credit for". He went on to add "They had a very comprehensive understanding of different tools and the best tools for different prey and shot conditions".

Edited from Popular Archaeology (1 February 2018)

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