An arrow is a fin-stabilized projectile, launched via a bow, consists of a long straight stiff shaft with stabilizers called fletchings, as well as a weighty arrowhead attached to the front end, a slot at the rear end called the nock for engaging the bowstring. The use of bows and arrows by humans is common to most cultures. A craftsman who makes arrows is a fletcher, one that makes arrowheads is an arrowsmith; the oldest evidence of stone-tipped projectiles, which may or may not have been propelled by a bow, dating to c. 64,000 years ago, were found in Sibudu Cave, current South Africa. The oldest evidence of the use of bows to shoot arrows dates to about 10,000 years ago, they had shallow grooves on the base. The oldest bow so far recovered is about 8,000 years old. Archery seems to have arrived in the Americas with the Arctic small tool tradition, about 4,500 years ago. Arrow sizes vary across cultures, ranging from eighteen inches to six feet. However, most modern arrows are 75 centimetres to 96 centimetres.
Short arrows have been used, shot through a guide attached either to the bow or to the archer's wrist. These may fly farther than heavier arrows, an enemy without suitable equipment may find himself unable to return them; the shaft is the primary structural element of the arrow, to which the other components are attached. Traditional arrow shafts are made from strong, lightweight wood, bamboo or reeds, while modern shafts may be made from aluminium, carbon fibre reinforced plastic, or a combination of materials; such shafts are made from an aluminium core wrapped with a carbon fibre outer. A traditional premium material is Port Orford Cedar; the stiffness of the shaft is known as its spine, referring to how little the shaft bends when compressed, hence an arrow which bends less is said to have more spine. In order to strike a group of arrows must be spined. "Center-shot" bows, in which the arrow passes through the central vertical axis of the bow riser, may obtain consistent results from arrows with a wide range of spines.
However, most traditional bows are not center-shot and the arrow has to deflect around the handle in the archer's paradox. Bows with higher draw weight will require stiffer arrows, with more spine to give the correct amount of flex when shot; the weight of an arrow shaft can be expressed in GPI. The length of a shaft in inches multiplied by its GPI rating gives the weight of the shaft in grains. For example, a shaft, 30 inches long and has a GPI of 9.5 weighs 285 grains, or about 18 grams. This does not include the other elements of a finished arrow, so a complete arrow will be heavier than the shaft alone. Sometimes a shaft will be made of two different types of wood fastened together, resulting in what is known as a footed arrow. Known by some as the finest of wood arrows, footed arrows were used both by early Europeans and Native Americans. Footed arrows will consist of a short length of hardwood near the head of the arrow, with the remainder of the shaft consisting of softwood. By reinforcing the area most to break, the arrow is more to survive impact, while maintaining overall flexibility and lighter weight.
A barreled arrow shaft is one. This allows for an arrow that retains enough strength to resist flex. A Qing dynasty arrow shaft was examined by archery enthusiast Peter Dekker and found to exhibit the following qualities: Total shaft length: 944mm Thickness at waist line: 8.5mm Thickness at end of feather: 11mm Thickness 530mm from end: 12mm Thickness 300mm from end: 12mm Thickness 218mm from end: 11mm Thickness 78mm from end: 10mm Thickness at end: 9mmThe resultant point-of-balance of the arrow shaft was thus 38.5% of the length of the arrow from the tip. Barreled arrow shafts are considered the zenith of pre-industrial archery technology, reaching their peak design among the Ottomans; the arrowhead or projectile point is the primary functional part of the arrow, plays the largest role in determining its purpose. Some arrows may use a sharpened tip of the solid shaft, but it is far more common for separate arrowheads to be made from metal, horn, or some other hard material. Arrowheads are separated by function: Bodkin points are short, rigid points with a small cross-section.
They were made of unhardened iron and may have been used for better or longer flight, or for cheaper production. It has been mistakenly suggested that the bodkin came into its own as a means of penetrating armour, but research has found no hardened bodkin points, so it is that it was first designed either to extend range or as a cheaper and simpler alternative to the broadhead. In a modern test, a direct hit from a hard steel bodkin point penetrated Damascus chain armour. However, archery was not effective against plate armour, which became available to knights of modest means by the late 14th century. Blunts are unsharpened arrowheads used for types of target shooting, for shooting at stumps or other targets of opportunity, or hunting small game when the goal is to concuss the target without penetration. Blunts are made of metal or hard rubber, they may stun, occ
Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that second group. Charles Darwin recognized the small number of traits that made domestic species different from their wild ancestors, he was the first to recognize the difference between conscious selective breeding in which humans directly select for desirable traits, unconscious selection where traits evolve as a by-product of natural selection or from selection on other traits. There is a genetic difference between wild populations. There is such a difference between the domestication traits that researchers believe to have been essential at the early stages of domestication, the improvement traits that have appeared since the split between wild and domestic populations. Domestication traits are fixed within all domesticates, were selected during the initial episode of domestication of that animal or plant, whereas improvement traits are present only in a proportion of domesticates, though they may be fixed in individual breeds or regional populations.
The dog was the first domesticated vertebrate, was established across Eurasia before the end of the Late Pleistocene era, well before cultivation and before the domestication of other animals. The archaeological and genetic data suggest that long-term bidirectional gene flow between wild and domestic stocks – including donkeys, horses and Old World camelids, goats and pigs – was common. Given its importance to humans and its value as a model of evolutionary and demographic change, domestication has attracted scientists from archaeology, anthropology, zoology and the environmental sciences. Among birds, the major domestic species today is the chicken, important for meat and eggs, though economically valuable poultry include the turkey and numerous other species. Birds are widely kept as cagebirds, from songbirds to parrots; the longest established invertebrate domesticates are the silkworm. Terrestrial snails are raised for food, while species from several phyla are kept for research, others are bred for biological control.
The domestication of plants began at least 12,000 years ago with cereals in the Middle East, the bottle gourd in Asia. Agriculture developed in at least 11 different centres around the world, domesticating different crops and animals. Domestication, from the Latin domesticus,'belonging to the house', is "a sustained multi-generational, mutualistic relationship in which one organism assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another organism in order to secure a more predictable supply of a resource of interest, through which the partner organism gains advantage over individuals that remain outside this relationship, thereby benefitting and increasing the fitness of both the domesticator and the target domesticate." This definition recognizes both the biological and the cultural components of the domestication process and the impacts on both humans and the domesticated animals and plants. All past definitions of domestication have included a relationship between humans with plants and animals, but their differences lay in, considered as the lead partner in the relationship.
This new definition recognizes a mutualistic relationship. Domestication has vastly enhanced the reproductive output of crop plants and pets far beyond that of their wild progenitors. Domesticates have provided humans with resources that they could more predictably and securely control and redistribute, the advantage that had fueled a population explosion of the agro-pastoralists and their spread to all corners of the planet. Houseplants and ornamentals are plants domesticated for aesthetic enjoyment in and around the home, while those domesticated for large-scale food production are called crops. Domesticated plants deliberately altered or selected for special desirable characteristics are cultigens. Animals domesticated for home companionship are called pets, while those domesticated for food or work are known as livestock; this biological mutualism is not restricted to humans with domestic crops and livestock but is well-documented in nonhuman species among a number of social insect domesticators and their plant and animal domesticates, for example the ant–fungus mutualism that exists between leafcutter ants and certain fungi.
Domestication syndrome is the suite of phenotypic traits arising during domestication that distinguish crops from their wild ancestors. The term is applied to vertebrate animals, includes increased docility and tameness, coat color changes, reductions in tooth size, changes in craniofacial morphology, alterations in ear and tail form, more frequent and nonseasonal estrus cycles, alterations in adrenocorticotropic hormone levels, changed concentrations of several neurotransmitters, prolongations in juvenile behavior, reductions in both total brain size and of particular brain regions; the domestication of animals and plants began with the wolf at least 15,000 years before present, which led to a rapid shift in the evolution and demography of both humans and numerous species of animals and plants. The sudden appearance of the domestic dog in the archaeological record was followed by livestock and crop domestication, the transition of humans from foraging to farming in different places and times across the planet.
Around 10,000 YBP, a new way of life emerged for humans through the management and exploitation of plant and an
A boomerang is a thrown tool constructed as a flat airfoil, designed to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight. A returning boomerang is designed to return to the thrower, it is well known as a weapon used by Indigenous Australians for hunting. Boomerangs have been used for hunting, as well as sport and entertainment, they are thought of as an Australian icon, come in various shapes and sizes. A boomerang is a throwing stick with certain aerodynamic properties, traditionally made of wood but boomerang-like devices have been made from bones. Modern boomerangs used for sport may be made from plywood, plastics such as ABS, phenolic paper, or carbon fibre-reinforced plastics. Boomerangs come in many shapes and sizes depending on their geographic or tribal origins and intended function. Many people think of a boomerang as the Australian type, although today there are many types of more usable boomerangs, such as the cross-stick, the pinwheel, the tumble-stick, the Boomabird and many other less common types.
An important distinction should be made between returning non-returning boomerangs. Returning boomerangs are examples of the earliest heavier-than-air human-made flight. A returning boomerang has two or more airfoil wings arranged so that the spinning creates unbalanced aerodynamic forces that curve its path so that it travels in an ellipse, returning to its point of origin when thrown correctly. While a throwing stick can be shaped overall like a returning boomerang, it is designed to travel as straight as possible so that it can be aimed and thrown with great force to bring down the game, its surfaces are therefore symmetrical and not with the aerofoils that give the returning boomerang its characteristic curved flight. The most recognisable type of the boomerang is the L-shaped returning boomerang. Returning boomerangs were used to decoy birds of prey, thrown above the long grass to frighten game birds into flight and into waiting nets. Modern returning boomerangs can be of various sizes; the origin of the term is certain, but many researchers have different theories on how the word entered into the English vocabulary.
One source asserts that the term entered the language in 1827, adapted from an extinct Aboriginal language of New South Wales, but mentions a variant, wo-mur-rang, which it dates to 1798. The boomerang was first encountered by western people at Farm Cove, Australia, in December 1804, when a weapon was witnessed during a tribal skirmish:... the white spectators were justly astonished at the dexterity and incredible force with which a bent, edged waddy resembling a Turkish scimytar, was thrown by Bungary, a native distinguished by his remarkable courtesy. The weapon, thrown at 20 or 30 yards distance, twirled round in the air with astonishing velocity, alighting on the right arm of one of his opponents rebounded to a distance not less than 70 or 80 yards, leaving a horrible contusion behind, exciting universal admiration. David Collins listed "Wo-mur-rāng" as one of eight aboriginal "Names of clubs" in 1798. A 1790 anonymous manuscript on aboriginal language of New South Wales reported "Boo-mer-rit" as "the Scimiter".
In 1822, it was described in detail and recorded as a "bou-mar-rang" in the language of the Turuwal people of the Georges River near Port Jackson. The Turawal used other words for their hunting sticks but used "boomerang" to refer to a returning throw-stick. Boomerangs were used as hunting weapons, percussive musical instruments, battle clubs, fire-starters, decoys for hunting waterfowl, as recreational play toys; the smallest boomerang may be less than 10 centimetres from tip to tip, the largest over 180 cm in length. Tribal boomerangs may be painted with designs meaningful to their makers. Most boomerangs seen today are of the tourist or competition sort, are invariably of the returning type. Depictions of boomerangs being thrown at animals, such as kangaroos, appear in some of the oldest rock art in the world, the Indigenous Australian rock art of the Kimberly region, up to 50,000 years old. Stencils and paintings of boomerangs appear in the rock art of West Papua, including on Bird's Head Peninsula and Kaimana dating to the Last Glacial Maximum, when lower sea levels led to cultural continuity between Papua and Arnhem Land in Northern Australia.
The oldest surviving Australian Aboriginal boomerangs come from a cache found in a peat bog in the Wyrie Swamp of South Australia and date to 10,000 BC. Although traditionally thought of as Australian, boomerangs have been found in ancient Europe and North America. There is evidence of the use of non-returning boomerangs by the Native Americans of California and Arizona, inhabitants of southern India for killing birds and rabbits; some boomerangs were not thrown at all, but were used in hand to hand combat by Indigenous Australians. Ancient Egyptian examples, have been recovered, experiments have shown that they functioned as returning boomerangs. Hunting sticks discovered in Europe seem to have formed part of the Stone Age arsenal of weapons. One boomerang, discovered in Obłazowa Cave in the Carpathian Mountains in Poland was made of mammoth's tusk and is believed, based on AMS dating of objects found with it, to be about 30,000 years old. In the Netherlands, boomerangs have been found in Vlaardingen and Velsen from the first century BC.
King Tutankhamun, the famous Pharaoh of a
A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft of wood, with a pointed head. The head may be the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with fire hardened spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as flint, iron, steel or bronze; the most common design for hunting or combat spears since ancient times has incorporated a metal spearhead shaped like a triangle, lozenge, or leaf. The heads of fishing spears feature barbs or serrated edges; the word spear comes from the Old English spere, from the Proto-Germanic speri, from a Proto-Indo-European root *sper- "spear, pole". Spears can be divided into two broad categories: those designed for thrusting in melee combat and those designed for throwing; the spear has been used throughout human history both as a weapon. Along with the axe and club, it is one of the earliest and most important tools developed by early humans; as a weapon, it may be wielded with two. It was used in every conflict up until the modern era, where then it continues on in the form of the bayonet, is the most used weapon in history.
Spear manufacture and use is not confined to humans. It is practiced by the western chimpanzee. Chimpanzees near Kédougou, Senegal have been observed to create spears by breaking straight limbs off trees, stripping them of their bark and side branches, sharpening one end with their teeth, they used the weapons to hunt galagos sleeping in hollows. Archaeological evidence found in present-day Germany documents that wooden spears have been used for hunting since at least 400,000 years ago, a 2012 study suggests that Homo heidelbergensis may have developed the technology about 500,000 years ago. Wood does not preserve well and Craig Stanford, a primatologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California, has suggested that the discovery of spear use by chimpanzees means that early humans used wooden spears as well five million years ago. Neanderthals were constructing stone spear heads from as early as 300,000 BP and by 250,000 years ago, wooden spears were made with fire-hardened points.
From circa 200,000 BC onwards, Middle Paleolithic humans began to make complex stone blades with flaked edges which were used as spear heads. These stone heads could be fixed to the spear shaft by gum or resin or by bindings made of animal sinew, leather strips or vegetable matter. During this period, a clear difference remained between spears designed to be thrown and those designed to be used in hand-to-hand combat. By the Magdalenian period, spear-throwers similar to the atlatl were in use; the spear is the main weapon of the warriors of Homer's Iliad. The use of both a single thrusting spear and two throwing spears are mentioned, it has been suggested. In the 7th century BC, the Greeks evolved the phalanx; the key to this formation was the hoplite, equipped with a large, bronze-faced shield and a 7–9 ft spear with an iron head and bronze butt-spike. The hoplite phalanx dominated warfare among the Greek City States from the 7th into the 4th century BC; the 4th century saw major changes. One was the greater use of light infantry armed with spear and javelins.
The other was the development of the sarissa, a two-handed pike 18 ft in length, by the Macedonians under Phillip of Macedon and Alexander the Great. The pike phalanx, supported by peltasts and cavalry, became the dominant mode of warfare among the Greeks from the late 4th century onward until Greek military systems were supplanted by the Roman legions. In the pre-Marian Roman armies, the first two lines of battle, the hastati and principes fought with a sword called a gladius and pila, heavy javelins that were designed to be thrown at an enemy to pierce and foul a target's shield; the principes were armed with a short spear called a hasta, but these fell out of use being replaced by the gladius. The third line, the triarii, continued to use the hasta. From the late 2nd century BC, all legionaries were equipped with the pilum; the pilum continued to be the standard legionary spear until the end of the 2nd century AD. Auxilia, were equipped with a simple hasta and throwing spears. During the 3rd century AD, although the pilum continued to be used, legionaries were equipped with other forms of throwing and thrusting spear, similar to auxilia of the previous century.
By the 4th century, the pilum had disappeared from common use. In the late period of the Roman Empire, the spear became more used because of its anti-cavalry capacities as the barbarian invasions were conducted by people with a developed culture of cavalry in warfare. Muslim warriors used a spear, called an az-zaġāyah. Berbers pronounced it zaġāya, but the English term, derived from the Old French via Berber, is "assegai", it is a pole weapon used for throwing or hurling a light spear or javelin made of hard wood and pointed with a forged iron tip. The az-zaġāyah played an important role during the Islamic conquest as well as during periods, well into the 20th century. A longer pole az-zaġāyah was being used as a hunting weapon from horseback; the az-zaġāyah was used. It existed in various forms in areas stretching from Southern Africa to the Indian subcontinent, although these place
A metate or metlatl is a type or variety of quern, a ground stone tool used for processing grain and seeds. In traditional Mesoamerican culture, metates were used by women who would grind lime-treated maize and other organic materials during food preparation. Similar artifacts are found all over the world, including China. While varying in specific morphology, metates adhere to a common shape, they consist of large stones with a smooth depression or bowl worn into the upper surface. The bowl is formed by the continual and long-term grinding of materials using a smooth hand-held stone; this action consists of a horizontal grinding motion that differs from the vertical crushing motion used in a mortar and pestle. The depth of the bowl varies, though they are not deeper than those of a mortar; the specific angles of the metate body allow for a proficient method of turning grains into flour. Another type of metate called a grinding slab may be found among boulder or exposed bedrock outcroppings; the upper face of the stone is used for grinding materials, such as acorns, that results in the smoothing of the stone's face and the creation of pocked dimples.
Carved, volcanic-stone ceremonial metates represent one of the most unusual and complex traditions of pre-Columbian artifacts from Costa Rica. They come in many different forms, morphological variation corresponds to different regions and time periods, they can be rectangular, flat, or curved. They may not have rims and between three and four legs; some exhibits show signs of use-wear while others show no signs of wear and appear to have been made for use as burial goods. Some examples characterized as metate might have been a type of throne for sitting on – not a metate at all; some examples are known as effigy-headed metate, which feature an animal’s head at one end, with the metate itself making up the body of the creature. Animals depicted are jaguar, crocodile or birds; the most complex type of ceremonial metate is the class referred to as “flying-panel” metate. This style comes from the Atlantic watershed region, including the City of Guayabo and represents a high level of craftsmanship and complexity.
Carved from a single piece of stone, these metates contain multiple figures, both underneath the plate and on the legs. Trophy heads, jaguar and saurian figures are the most common themes; the “flying panel” metate is believed to be the precursor to free standing sculptural figures more common in the Atlantic watershed region. The earliest traditions of stone sculpture in Costa Rica, including ceremonial metate, began in late Period IV. Metate rimless plates; those from the Atlantic Watershed have a plate, horizontally flat and rimmed. Both are associated with mortuary goods, suggesting differential social status existed within these communities; the three main types of Costa Rican stone sculpture at this time—tripod-metate, mace heads and jade “axe-god” pendants—peaked and declined in use during Period V. Stone sculpture was never popular again in the Nicoya/Guanacaste region, but in the Atlantic Watershed by Period VI, freestanding figural sculpture and new forms of ceremonial metate came into use.
These new metate types might be rectangular with four legs like the jaguar effigy-head examples or might be round in shape with a pedestal base. These latter types have carved human heads around the rim implying a relationship with ritual trophy-head taking; this particular form of metate seems to have been influenced by the stone sculptures of the Panamanian site of Barriles. At the site of Las Huacas, fifteen metates were excavated from sixteen graves. None of these metates had manos, suggesting that the carved metate as a mortuary object had a deeper symbolic meaning than just the processing of foodstuffs; the metate's basic mechanical purpose is a platform. This transformation of grain to flour has symbolic implications relating to life and rebirth, it is still not clear if maize was a main source of sustenance, it is possible that maize was reserved for making chicha, for use in ritual feasting activities. Given their role as a burial good, it seems that metate held a strong meaning for human life and the hope for a rebirth or transformation of some kind.
The three most popular iconographic elements of ceremonial metate seem to be saurian and jaguar creatures. Monkeys are common. A unique feature of ceremonial metate is the lack of human figures. Disembodied heads are the sole exception. While human figures become the main subject of the free standing sculptures, which depict nude females or male warriors with trophy heads and bound male captives, these do not seem to have been depicted on metate. Flying-panel metates have anthropomorphic figures, but these always have animal heads. In both the Nicoya and Atlantic-Watershed regions, metates are made with saurian imagery, it is thought that the saurian represents the surface of the earth, which relates to agricultural fertility. One of the oldest and most prominent themes in Chibcha art is that of the Crocodile god. Depicted as an anthropomorphic being with a crocodile head, he has been carved into fly-panel metates, sometimes shown standing on a double-headed saurian and other times on a jaguar.
As a symbol, the do
The Neolithic Revolution, Neolithic Demographic Transition, Agricultural Revolution, or First Agricultural Revolution was the wide-scale transition of many human cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, making an larger population possible. These settled communities permitted humans to observe and experiment with plants to learn how they grew and developed; this new knowledge led to the domestication of plants. Archaeological data indicates that the domestication of various types of plants and animals happened in separate locations worldwide, starting in the geological epoch of the Holocene around 12,500 years ago, it was the world's first verifiable revolution in agriculture. The Neolithic Revolution narrowed the diversity of foods available, resulting in a downturn in the quality of human nutrition; the Neolithic Revolution involved far more than the adoption of a limited set of food-producing techniques. During the next millennia it would transform the small and mobile groups of hunter-gatherers that had hitherto dominated human pre-history into sedentary societies based in built-up villages and towns.
These societies radically modified their natural environment by means of specialized food-crop cultivation, with activities such as irrigation and deforestation which allowed the production of surplus food. Other developments found widely are the domestication of animals, polished stone tools, rectangular houses; these developments, sometimes called the Neolithic package, provided the basis for centralized administrations and political structures, hierarchical ideologies, depersonalized systems of knowledge, densely populated settlements and division of labour, more trade, the development of non-portable art and architecture, property ownership. The earliest known civilization developed in Sumer in southern Mesopotamia; the relationship of the above-mentioned Neolithic characteristics to the onset of agriculture, their sequence of emergence, empirical relation to each other at various Neolithic sites remains the subject of academic debate, varies from place to place, rather than being the outcome of universal laws of social evolution.
The Levant saw the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BCE, followed by sites in the wider Fertile Crescent. The term Neolithic Revolution was coined in 1923 by V. Gordon Childe to describe the first in a series of agricultural revolutions in Middle Eastern history; the period is described as a "revolution" to denote its importance, the great significance and degree of change affecting the communities in which new agricultural practices were adopted and refined. The beginning of this process in different regions has been dated from 10,000 to 8,000 BC in the Fertile Crescent and 8000 BC in the Kuk Early Agricultural Site of Melanesia; this transition everywhere seems associated with a change from a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to a more settled, agrarian-based one, with the inception of the domestication of various plant and animal species—depending on the species locally available, also influenced by local culture. Recent archaeological research suggests that in some regions such as the Southeast Asian peninsula, the transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist was not linear, but region-specific.
There are several competing theories as to the factors that drove populations to take up agriculture. The most prominent of these are: The Oasis Theory proposed by Raphael Pumpelly in 1908, popularized by V. Gordon Childe in 1928 and summarised in Childe's book Man Makes Himself; this theory maintains that as the climate got drier due to the Atlantic depressions shifting northward, communities contracted to oases where they were forced into close association with animals, which were domesticated together with planting of seeds. However, today this theory has little support amongst archaeologists because subsequent climate data suggests that the region was getting wetter rather than drier; the Hilly Flanks hypothesis, proposed by Robert Braidwood in 1948, suggests that agriculture began in the hilly flanks of the Taurus and Zagros mountains, where the climate was not drier as Childe had believed, fertile land supported a variety of plants and animals amenable to domestication. The Feasting model by Brian Hayden suggests that agriculture was driven by ostentatious displays of power, such as giving feasts, to exert dominance.
This required assembling large quantities of food. The Demographic theories proposed by Carl Sauer and adapted by Lewis Binford and Kent Flannery posit an sedentary population that expanded up to the carrying capacity of the local environment and required more food than could be gathered. Various social and economic factors helped drive the need for food; the evolutionary/intentionality theory, developed by David Rindos and others, views agriculture as an evolutionary adaptation of plants and humans. Starting with domestication by protection of wild plants, it led to specialization of location and full-fledged domestication. Peter Richerson, Robert Boyd, Robert Bettinger make a case for the development of agriculture coinciding with an stable climate at the beginning of the Holocene. Ronald Wright's book and Massey Lecture Series A Short History of Progress popularized this hypothesis; the postulated Younger Dryas impact event, claimed to be in part responsible for megafauna extinction and ending the last glacial period, could have provided circumstances that required the evolution
The Schöningen spears are a set of eight wooden throwing spears from the Palaeolithic Age that were excavated between 1994 and 1998 in the open-cast lignite mine in Schöningen, Helmstedt district, together with an associated cache of 16,000 animal bones. The excavations took place under the management of Hartmut Thieme of the Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage. Assessed as being between 380,000 and 400,000 years old, they represent the oldest preserved hunting weapons of prehistoric Europe so far discovered; as such they predate the age of Neanderthal Man, is associated with Homo heidelbergensis. The spears support the practice of hunting by archaic humans in Europe in the late Lower Paleolithic; the age of the spears was estimated from their stratigraphic position, "sandwiched between deposits of the Elsterian and Saalian glaciations, situated within a well-studied sedimentary sequence.". More thermoluminescence dating of heated flints in a deposit beneath that which contained the spears suggested that the spears were between 337,000 and 300,000 years old.
The site of the finds is one of 13 Palaeolithic places of discovery in the open-cast, lignite mine, excavated in the course of the prospection of the quaternary surface layer from 1992 to 2009. The 60 by 50 m excavation base, excluded from coal mining represents a small segment of a former littoral zone; this zone has been visited over millennia, between the Elster- and Saale ice ages, by humans and animals alike. The pedestal displays five massive, layered sediment packages that were created by varying levels of the lake and silting-up processes. Thanks to the quick, airtight covering of the archaeological layers by mud, the organic materials are exceptionally well preserved. In the sequence of the sedimentary layers, climate changes can be read with a high resolution - from a warm, dry phase to airy deciduous forests to tundra; the spears themselves are from an 10 m wide and 50 m long strip, parallel to the former lake shore in the sedimentary layer four, the late Holstein-interglacial. The archaeological layers beneath have only been excavated and have been an objective of a research excavation by the DFG since 2010.
Together with the spears, some stone artefacts, chips as well as over 10,000 animal bones were found, amongst them 90% horse bones, followed by red deer and European bison. The horse bones are indicative of at least 20 individuals, they show numerous cut marks made by stone tools, but only a few bite marks made by animals. The site is interpreted by the excavator Harald Thieme as testimony of a hunting event as well as the following cutting up and preparation of the kill. According to his scenario, the thick reeds at the lake shore gave the hunters cover, from where the horses, trapped between the hunters and the lake, were culled with accurate spear throws; because there are bones of young animals amongst the horse bones, he concludes that the hunt took place in autumn. Furthermore, he sees evidence of ritualistic activity; the spears, deformed by the load of the sediment pressure, are made from slim, straight spruce stems – except for spear IV, made from pine wood. The spears vary in length with diameters ranging from 29 to 47 mm.
They have been worked thoroughly and are evidence of developed technological skills and of a workmanlike tradition. Like in today’s tournament javelins, the greatest diameter and therefore its centre of gravity is in the front third of the shaft; the tips are worked symmetrically from the base of the stems, the end of the tips were worked beside the medullary ray, the weakest part of the stem, on purpose. In their throwing qualities, the Schöningen Spears are equal to modern tournament javelins. During tests, athletes could throw replicas up to 70 m; the choice of the wood is to be climatically determined, because during the cooler climate near the end of the interglacial, conifers grew close to the site of the finds. More unique wooden artefacts were found at the place of discovery of the wild horse hunting camp: a charred wooden staff as well as a wooden tool, tapered at both ends, interpreted as a throwing stick; the stone tools at the place of discovery consist of different pointed forms.
Evidence of blank production is missing. Among the finds are the so-called "grooved wooden tools", excavated at the place of discovery No. 12. Made from the hard wooden branch-bases of the European silver fir, noticeably incised at one end, they may have been used as a mounting for stone blades. If this interpretation is correct, they are the oldest composite tools of mankind. Thanks to the good preservation conditions at the place of discovery, there are many finds of small animals, among them small mammals, fish and insects. Together with the carpological remains they make a detailed reconstruction of the climate and the environment of the passing of an interglacial period possible; the spears and the place of discovery have revolutionized the picture of the cultural and social development of early humans. The widespread opinion was that Homo heidelbergensis were simple beings without language that lived on plants and carrion; the spears and their correlated finds are evidence of complex technological skills and are the fir