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Abstract

Human hunting has been a cornerstone of research in human evolutionary studies, and decades worth of research programmes into early weapon systems have improved our understanding of the subsistence behaviours of our genus. Thrusting spears are potentially one of the earliest hunting weapons to be manufactured and used by humans. However, a dearth of data on the mechanics of thrusting spear use has hampered experimental research. This paper presents a human performance trial using military personnel trained in bayonet use. Participants thrusted replicas of Middle Pleistocene wooden spears into PermaGel™. For each spear thrust, impact velocity was recorded with high-speed video equipment, and force profiles were recorded using a force transducer. The results demonstrate that training improves performance when compared with previous experimental results using untrained participants, and that the mechanics and biomechanics of spear thrusting are complex. The trial confirms that previous spear thrusting experiments firing spears as projectiles are failing to replicate the entire spear thrusting event, and that crossbows are too powerful to replicate the low velocities involved in spear thrusting. In order to better understand evidence of spear thrusting in the archaeological record, experimental protocols accurately replicating and recording the mechanics of spear thrusting in the past are proposed.

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... Of all the categories of Pleistocene wooden technologies, wooden spears are among the best-studied (e.g. Oakley et al. 1977;Veil 1991;Thieme 1997;Haidle 2009;Garofoli 2015;Milks et al. 2016;Gaudzinski-Windheuser et al. 2018;Milks, Parker & Pope 2019). Complete and fragmented wooden spears are most often proposed to have been used for thrusting and/or throwing by hand, and archaeological examples have been preserved in sites in Europe, South America and Australia dating to between ~400,000 and ~10,000 years before present (BP) (Warren 1911;Adam 1951;Oakley et al. 1977;Luebbers 1978;Dillehay 1997;Thieme 1997;Schoch et al. 2015). ...
... Wooden spear replicas have been experimentally tested as thrusting weapons, recording both high impact energies and forces (Milks et al. 2016;Coppe et al. 2019; but see Gaudzinski-Windheuser et al. 2018). During thrusting, wooden spears undergo forces from a number of directions, dependent in part upon hand positioning and grip. ...
... During thrusting, wooden spears undergo forces from a number of directions, dependent in part upon hand positioning and grip. In a two-handed forward grip ( Fig. 2), the grip chosen most frequently in two separate spear thrusting experiments with different participants (Milks et al. 2016;Milks 2018), forces acting on the spear come from different directions including the person's hands and body weight and the resisting forces of the target (Fig. 2). These different directions apply compression force on the tip of the spear while also placing bending forces along the shaft. ...
... , and, when used in a thrusting motion, due to the transference of mass into the spear by its user [43][44][45] . The validity of the latter will be further explored based on the ballistic data obtained from this study. ...
... The type of damage appears to correspond to the amount of energy working on the target (E kin , W in Joules) (cf. 44 ), from puncture to perforation, to finally perforation with extensive radial cracks. ...
... These patterns are reflected in the results of the experiments: the thinner bone of the scapula targets all show cracks and lower peak forces than those of the pelvises. This explains why the measured peak forces are much higher than those observed by Milks et al. 44 -who used Perma-Gel TM ''' only -and shows the effect of target material on recorded physical parameters. For the pelvis targets the peak forces show a larger spread, but those associated with impact marks on bones can be ranked according to the degree of deformation. ...
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Full text (read-only): https://rdcu.be/1OcE . Animal resources have been part of hominin diets since around 2.5 million years ago, with sharp-edged stone tools facilitating access to carcasses. How exactly hominins acquired animal prey and how hunting strategies varied through time and space is far from clear. The oldest possible hunting weapons known from the archaeological record are 300,000 to 400,000-year-old sharpened wooden staves. These may have been used as throwing and/or close-range thrusting spears, but actual data on how such objects were used are lacking, as unambiguous lesions caused by such weapon-like objects are unknown for most of human prehistory. Here, we report perforations observed on two fallow deer skeletons from Neumark-Nord, Germany, retrieved during excavations of 120,000-year-old lake shore deposits with abundant traces of Neanderthal presence. Detailed studies of the perforations, including micro-computed tomography imaging and ballistic experiments, demonstrate that they resulted from the close-range use of thrusting spears. Such confrontational ways of hunting require close cooperation between participants, and over time may have shaped important aspects of hominin biology and behaviour.
... , and, when used in a thrusting motion, due to the transference of mass into the spear by its user [43][44][45] . The validity of the latter will be further explored based on the ballistic data obtained from this study. ...
... The type of damage appears to correspond to the amount of energy working on the target (E kin , W in Joules) (cf. 44 ), from puncture to perforation, to finally perforation with extensive radial cracks. ...
... These patterns are reflected in the results of the experiments: the thinner bone of the scapula targets all show cracks and lower peak forces than those of the pelvises. This explains why the measured peak forces are much higher than those observed by Milks et al. 44 -who used Perma-Gel TM ''' only -and shows the effect of target material on recorded physical parameters. For the pelvis targets the peak forces show a larger spread, but those associated with impact marks on bones can be ranked according to the degree of deformation. ...
... Wooden spears represent the earliest hunting technology in the archaeological record. Their archaeological rarity, likely largely due to preservation bias, has not dampened interest in their function and significance, with a spike in publications relating to their manufacture and use over the last decade (Fluck 2015;Garofoli 2015;Gaudzinski-Windheuser et al. 2018;Haidle 2009;Milks et al. 2016;Milks, Parker & Pope 2019;Salem & Churchill 2016;Schoch et al. 2015;Wilkins, Schoville & Brown 2014). One-piece wooden spears, thrust and/or thrown by hand, have typically been evaluated in relation to some key innovations that are considered to have improved on their design and performance. ...
... • Their accuracy and velocities when thrown by skilled throwers (Milks, Parker & Pope 2019). • The forces and energies when utilized as thrusting weapons, with the aim to better evaluate their effectiveness as hunting weapons (Coppe et al. 2019;Gaudzinski-Windheuser et al. 2018;Milks et al. 2016). • Their ability to damage bones of small and medium sized mammals when used as both throwing and thrusting spears (Gaudzinski-Windheuser et al. 2018;Milks 2018a). ...
... Recent experimental research on Pleistocene wooden spear use highlights that in skilled hands, these replica weapons are functional as both thrusting and throwing spears (Rieder 2001;Milks et al. 2016;Gaudzinski-Windheuser et al. 2018;Milks, Parker & Pope 2019). The debate about the origins of throwing in human evolution has been protracted, but Longman and colleagues (2020) highlight how the inclusion of reference studies of modern athletes have served to produce a new synthesis which supports throwing activities amongst Pleistocene hominins. ...
Article
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Wooden spears are amongst the earliest weapons known from the archaeological record, with broken and complete examples known from Middle and Late Pleistocene Eurasian, Australian and South American sites. They were manufactured and used by multiple species of Homo, including H. sapiens. This paper comprises the first systematic review of ethnographic data on the recent use of wooden spears for hunting and human violence. It confronts the historical racism underpinning the abuse of ethnographic data on wooden spears, including associations between the technology and the development of cognitive abilities in human evolution. The review demonstrates that wooden spears were used as thrusting and throwing weapons by recent societies in North America, South America, Africa, and Oceania, and continue to be used today by children as training tools in hunter-gatherer societies. Their use is recorded in a wide range of climates and environments, using a variety of different hunting strategies to target terrestrial and aquatic prey. Whilst acknowledging limitations of ethnographic datasets, Middle and early Late Pleistocene hominin hunting is reconsidered, briefly overviewing wooden spears in relation to the variety of climate and ecological settings in which Pleistocene hominins hunted, targeted prey, and the potential for delivery methods and hunting strategies. The results underscore the importance of systematic reviews when utilising ethnography in interpreting archaeological evidence: selective references in relation to the use of wooden spears have overlooked additional examples that point to a richness and variability of technology and behaviour that is invisible in the Pleistocene archaeological record.
... Without knowing what part of the body mass of the user is being transferred, the KE of thrusting spears cannot be calculated. This explains why most previous experiments have systematically focused on measuring the force, with reported values between 362 and 3430 N (Schmitt et al. 2003;Milks et al. 2016), or on measuring the KE developed by a stabbing movement. Stabbing differs significantly from thrusting since the former does not involve (or only minimally involves) a pushing motion with the legs. ...
... While the ranges of energy developed by the bow and the spear-thrower can be estimated and while a maximum value for hand-thrown spears can be deduced from the world record in modern javelin-throwing, we have less knowledge about the KE of hand-thrown spears in a hunting context. For spear thrusting, no KE values are yet available, given that current data come either from experiments involving a completely different gesture (stabbing) (Chadwick et al. 1999;Horsfall et al. 1999;Bleetman et al. 2003) or from experiments in which only the force (in newtons) has been measured (Connolly et al. 2001;Schmitt et al. 2003;Milks et al. 2016), which prevents a comparison with other modes of propulsion. In addition, most measurements of KE have been taken either at the release of the projectile or during its flight, instead of when the weapon hits the target, which is the value of interest when studying hunting technology. ...
... Such experiments need an input of accurate KE values for each propulsion mode in order to calibrate the mechanical device used to launch the projectile. Up to now, ballistic projectile experiments have been severely hampered by the difficulty of correctly estimating the range of KE developed by each weapon system, especially for thrusting spears (Milks et al. 2016). Previous attempts have struggled with what device to use for measuring the energy for both projected and thrusted weapons. ...
Article
The appearance of new projectile propulsion modes is viewed as an important element for understanding human behaviour during the Palaeolithic. Because the organic components of hunting weapons (the bow, spear‐thrower and arrow, and spear shaft) are only rarely preserved archaeologically, some effort has been invested in experiments to explore how the projecting modes could be identified through the analysis of stone points. The kinetic energy developed by each mode of propulsion has been considered a key variable in these experiments. However, the data used in these studies generally come from a few ballistic studies, with varied results. We present the results of a systematic study conducted with a ballistic pendulum and combined with a classic ballistic analysis. We quantified and compared the kinetic energy developed by the four standard modes of propulsion known for the Palaeolithic. The kinetic energy values that we attained, especially those measured for thrusting spears, clearly differ from what has been assumed up to now, and thus challenge current models on the evolution of hunting technology.
... Spear thrusting produces high kinetic energies at low velocities, which are difficult to replicate using crossbows. Human trials conducted by Milks et al. (2016) demonstrate thrusting velocities between 2.8 and 6.2 m/s, producing very high kinetic energy values between 362 and 1120 J (or 270-836 ft/lbs). To reproduce the thrusting motion, we developed a thrusting apparatus by suspending a steel bar (spear) on two straps set 150 cm apart. ...
... Through video photography, an approximate speed of 4 m/s is achieved at impact, producing approximately 378ft/lbs of kinetic energy. These values are within range of human trials (Milks et al., 2016). ...
Article
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The development of projectile technology was a fundamental step in the transition from scavenging to hunting, providing hunters with more reliable access to meat, enabling killing at greater distances and a potential broadening of the human niche. Understanding when and where projectile innovations occurred remains a challenge, as organic components of projectile technology seldom preserve. Consequently, archaeologists have explored tip fractures as a potential means of identifying the speed of projectile impacts and thus the likely weapon systems employed in the past. This paper introduces a novel approach to experimental projectile fractures, employing near-identical vitrified porcelain points to better understand the variables affecting formation, type and length of so-called ‘diagnostic impact fractures’ (DIFs). Using the largest sample of its kind to date (n = 570), we compare DIF type and length for thrusted spear, simple stone tipped projectiles (hand thrown) and complex projectile weapons (spearthrower/dart and bow/arrow) to identify the degree of overlap in the type and size of impact fractures created by each type of weapon. Through statistical comparison of porcelain and flint points, and controlled crossbow and hand delivery methods, we show that porcelain points are an ideal analogue for flint points in controlled ballistic experiments to assist in developing a more robust understanding of the formation of impact fractures and the use of past weapon systems.
... While experimental work in relation to Palaeolithic hunting technologies has predominantly focussed on identifying impact damage on lithics, a series of studies has focussed on the bone damage instead. Most of these focus on specific research questions in relation to a particular weapon type and/or delivery systems and often have a focus on more recent time periods (e.g., Paleoindian, Mesolithic, osseous UP technologies) (Huckell 1982;Fischer 1985;Frison 1989;Cattelain 1997;Geneste and Maury 1997;Knecht 1997a, b, c;Letourneux and Pétillon 2008;Leduc 2014;Fullagar 2016;Iovita and Sano 2016;Langley 2016;Marreiros et al. 2016;Milks et al. 2016a;Rots 2016). Whilst these studies provide detailed data, methods are often varied and therefore comparisons or integrations are difficult. ...
... Firstly, the variation in skill level of the participants for both throwing and thrusting experiments; those undertaking the projectile experiments had prior experience with the use of such prehistoric technology, while the experience of participants for the thrusting experiments was more varied. Thus participants in the projectile experiments had potentially greater control over the flight and impact of the spear point, increasing the likelihood of carcass hit and PIM formation (Milks et al. 2016a). Secondly, both the higher velocities and increased kinetic energy undoubtedly influenced the ability of the spear point to penetrate the soft tissue and muscle of the carcass and impact on the bone (Wilkins et al. 2014;Milks et al. 2019). ...
Article
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Recent zooarchaeological and isotope analyses have largely settled the debate surrounding Neanderthal hunting capacities, repeatedly demonstrating their successful acquisition of large ungulates. Nevertheless, the functional identification of individual tools as hunting weapons remains a methodological challenge. In-depth studies have focussed mainly on small subsets of lithic artefacts from selected assemblages assessing features of breakage patterns, retouch, shape and use wear. Studies focussing on associated hunting lesions are rarer and often focus on reconstructing very specific bone surface marks encountered in the archaeological record. This study aims to add to our understanding of the formation and characteristics of projectile impact marks (PIMs) on bone through a series of highly monitored, replicative experiments, using thrusting and throwing spears with replica Levallois points into two wild pig carcasses. In total, 152 shots were made, and for each a series of attributes was recorded, including velocity and location of impact. Subsequent quantitative analyses focussed on understanding the various factors underlying the formation of different types of projectile impact marks. These experiments demonstrate that PIM formation results from the properties of both the impacting projectile and bone element. PIMs can signal impacts caused by different delivery methods but only on some parts of the skeleton. These results are contextualised in relation to the occurrence and recognition of Palaeolithic PIMs and patterns of Neanderthal behaviour. These experiments are only a first step in improving the recognition of these signatures in the archaeological record and providing better insights into understanding of the mechanisms of Neanderthal hunting.
... In addition to an understanding of fracture mechanics in brittle solids, we have also emphasized the importance of integrating ballistics in projectile studies (Coppe et al., 2019). Previous efforts to understand the ballistic behavior of prehistoric projectiles have focused on aspects such as weapon performance (precision, penetration, distance, kinetic energy, speed) (Carrère & Lepetz, 1988;English, 1930;Milks et al., 2016;Schmitt et al., 2003;Strickland & Hardy, 2005;Waguespack et al., 2009;Whittaker, 2013;Whittaker et al., 2017;Wood & Fitzhugh, 2018) and the behavior of the projectile at release or in-flight (Coppe et al., 2019;Klopsteg, 1943;Kooi, 1998;Lepers, 2010Lepers, , 2016Strickland & Hardy, 2005;Whittaker, 2016;Whittaker et al., 2017). Research intensity varies significantly depending on the mode of propulsion and the bow was definitely investigated most, which contrasts with the very limited number of studies focused on thrusting spears (for some exceptions, see Coppe et al., 2019;Milks et al., 2016). ...
... Previous efforts to understand the ballistic behavior of prehistoric projectiles have focused on aspects such as weapon performance (precision, penetration, distance, kinetic energy, speed) (Carrère & Lepetz, 1988;English, 1930;Milks et al., 2016;Schmitt et al., 2003;Strickland & Hardy, 2005;Waguespack et al., 2009;Whittaker, 2013;Whittaker et al., 2017;Wood & Fitzhugh, 2018) and the behavior of the projectile at release or in-flight (Coppe et al., 2019;Klopsteg, 1943;Kooi, 1998;Lepers, 2010Lepers, , 2016Strickland & Hardy, 2005;Whittaker, 2016;Whittaker et al., 2017). Research intensity varies significantly depending on the mode of propulsion and the bow was definitely investigated most, which contrasts with the very limited number of studies focused on thrusting spears (for some exceptions, see Coppe et al., 2019;Milks et al., 2016). ...
Article
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Weapons and past weapon systems are important research topics in Paleolithic archaeology. Its popularity stems from its relevance for understanding broader technological evolution, subsistence strategies, and human behavior. However, identifying what weapon system was used has proven to be a significant methodological challenge over the last few decades and in spite of what some titles of recent publications suggest, the question is still not resolved. In this paper, we present the results of a ballistic analysis of the four modes of propulsion that are traditionally considered for the Paleolithic period (bow, spear-thrower, hand-cast and thrusting spear). We advocate a stepwise approach to the problem given the multiple variables involved. The goal of this study is to add an essential building block to current understanding by exploring the notion of reactional impact stress (RIS) on the basis of the angle of incidence developed by the different projectiles. Our results show the importance of RIS for accurately understanding the projectile impact phenomenon and the existence of a reproducible and mutually distinct RIS between the four tested weapon systems. These results shed a new light on approaches that have been used previously to examine weapon systems archaeologically, such as those relying on the length of “diagnostic impact fractures”. Our results allow the proposition of an alternative approach that appears to hold great potential, in particular for identifying the use of the bow. While a reliable method for recognizing past propulsion modes is not yet established, we conclude that the solution lies within the integration of several fields, more in particular use-wear analysis, fracture mechanics in brittle solids, and ballistics and we progressively move forward in identifying the key building blocks of such a method.
... Studies of bone modifications suggest that early humans had primary access to animal carcasses [7,25,26]. Furthermore, the ability of early humans to design hunting tools is evident [27,28]. Given the important role often attributed to meat and fat in early human diet, it seems unlikely that scavenging was the dominant strategy for animal procurement, as the dependence on animal-based calories must have necessitated active involvement in ensuring a steady supply of prey [7,29]. ...
... The use of spears ( Figure 1) is strongly associated with the hunting of large animals [27,130]; and indeed, the use of spears in elephant hunting appears in several ethnographic documentations. ...
Article
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Proboscideans and humans have shared habitats across the Old and New Worlds for hundreds of thousands of years. Proboscideans were included in the human diet starting from the Lower Paleolithic period and until the final stages of the Pleistocene. However, the question of how prehistoric people acquired proboscideans remains unresolved. Moreover, the effect of proboscidean hunting on the eventual extinction of these mega-herbivores was never seriously evaluated, probably because of the lack of acquaintance with the plethora of information available regarding proboscidean hunting by humans. The aim of this paper is to bridge this gap and bring to light the data available in order to estimate the extent and procedures of elephant and mammoth hunting by humans during the Quaternary. This study examines the archaeological evidence of proboscidean hunting during Paleolithic times, and provides a review of ethnographic and ethno-historical accounts, demonstrating a wide range of traditional elephant-hunting strategies. We also discuss the rituals accompanying elephant hunting among contemporary hunter-gatherers, further stressing the importance of elephants among hunter-gatherers. Based on the gathered data, we suggest that early humans possessed the necessary abilities to actively and regularly hunt proboscideans; and performed this unique and challenging task at will.
... Spear thrusting produces high kinetic energies at low velocities, which are difficult to replicate using crossbows. Human trials conducted by Milks et al. (2016) demonstrate thrusting velocities between 2.8 and 6.2 m/s, producing very high kinetic energy values between 362 and 1120 J (or 270-836 ft/lbs). To reproduce the thrusting motion, we developed a thrusting apparatus by suspending a steel bar (spear) on two straps set 150 cm apart. ...
... Through video photography, an approximate speed of 4 m/s is achieved at impact, producing approximately 378ft/lbs of kinetic energy. These values are within range of human trials (Milks et al., 2016). ...
... Examples of simulants used to represent the human body may range from complex apparatus, such as the John Hopkins model and other anatomically correct models, to layers of compliant material such as foam packs, animal surrogates such as swine tissue, gelatine as a representation of skeletal muscle and organs, and synthetic materials [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] . Interest has grown in the consideration of different components of such models with more researchers developing models that include a representation of human skin and the underlying soft and hard tissue layers 3,11,14,15 . ...
Article
There is an interest within forensic science to understand the physical and mechanical properties of human skin and the natural and synthetic simulants used to represent it, particularly with reference to reconstruction studies that consider injury to humans, for example during sharp-weapon and ballistic impact assaults. This paper discusses literature in the broad area of (i) human skin, (ii) animal skin and products such as leather and (iii) synthetic polymeric skin simulants. The physical and mechanical properties of human skin appear to be reasonably well documented in the literature. Animal models discussed appear to be restricted primarily to pig and to a lesser extent goat, plus some data on different types of leather. All skin (human and animal) and derivatives such as leather (from various animal sources) are natural materials and therefore variable in their physical and mechanical properties. The variability of commonly used simulants for human skin such as various types of leather could impact on the confidence of any reconstruction study data obtained by using such simulants. While it is recognized that synthetic simulants (polymers such as silicone and polyurethane) do not have the structure of human skin, their physical and mechanical properties can be manipulated relatively easily to match those of skin and are typically of low variability, providing confidence in the repeatability and reproducibility of reconstruction studies.
... The data support hypotheses that early spears, such as the double-tapered examples from Schöningen, function as throwing weapons both for flat and parabolic trajectories at distances up to 20 m. Our results underscore the importance of using trained participants if launching weapons manually in experimental research 79 whether the aim be to further evaluate performance parameters or for replication work. In experimental work using human throwers, recording of impact velocities, accuracy data, and physical attributes and skill level of throwers will help fill in knowledge gaps. ...
Article
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The appearance of weaponry - technology designed to kill - is a critical but poorly established threshold in human evolution. It is an important behavioural marker representing evolutionary changes in ecology, cognition, language and social behaviours. While the earliest weapons are often considered to be hand-held and consequently short-ranged, the subsequent appearance of distance weapons is a crucial development. Projectiles are seen as an improvement over contact weapons, and are considered by some to have originated only with our own species in the Middle Stone Age and Upper Palaeolithic. Despite the importance of distance weapons in the emergence of full behavioral modernity, systematic experimentation using trained throwers to evaluate the ballistics of thrown spears during flight and at impact is lacking. This paper addresses this by presenting results from a trial of trained javelin athletes, providing new estimates for key performance parameters. Overlaps in distances and impact energies between hand-thrown spears and spearthrowers are evidenced, and skill emerges as a significant factor in successful use. The results show that distance hunting was likely within the repertoire of hunting strategies of Neanderthals, and the resulting behavioural flexibility closely mirrors that of our own species.
... An average thrusting speed of 10.4 m/s ± 1.4 (S.D.) was obtained using a Bushnell Speedster III™ radar gun (23 m range, ±0.45 m/s). Given the mass and velocity of these experiments, the kinetic energy achieved during these tests is consistent with handdelivered spears (Bergman et al. 1988;Hughes 1998;Schoville et al. 2017), though the velocity is perhaps more consistent with a thrown spear than a thrusting one (Milks et al. 2016). ...
Article
Composite tool manufacture is a complex technological behaviour that arose in the Middle Stone Age. The hafting of stone tools to handles or shafts seems to depend on the use of glue or adhesive. Chemical and microscopic analysis of glue or adhesive residues on lithic artefacts show the origins of these residues to be from various plant and animal sources, although attributing these residues to specific species has been problematic for various reasons. Experimental evaluation of the efficacy of glue for composite tool manufacture is a valuable method to identify possible sources of residues found on lithic artefacts. Various plant sources of glue have been identified in historical accounts, but some are yet to be identified in the archaeological record or need to be tested for their efficacy. The botanical remains of the genus Watsonia are particularly well represented in the archaeological record, where it is thought to have been foraged as a food source by Stone Age hunter-gatherers. During field observations, Watsonia underground storage organs (USOs) have been found to produce exudate. We test the efficacy of this exudate as a hafting glue for stone tools. Our results indicate that Watsonia exudate is nearly as effective as resin from Vachellia karroo (previously Acacia karroo) trees. These results lay the groundwork for identifying glue as part of composite tool technological components in the archaeological record that may not yet have been identified by other analytical methods, and highlight the role USOs might have played in human technology.
... Third generation experiments do not have to be strictly controlled, but a whole range of parameters can be measured (e.g. Gaudzinski-Windheuser et al. 2018;Key et al. 2015Key et al. , 2017Milks et al. 2016;Pfleging et al. 2015;Schmitt, Churchill, and Hylander 2003;Stemp, Morozov, and Key 2015). Third generation experiments have sometimes shown that the models built through controlled experiments cannot be transferred to real situations (e.g. ...
Article
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Experimentation has always played an important role in archeology, in particular to create reference collections for use-wear studies. Different types of experiments can answer different questions; all types should therefore be combined to obtain a holistic view. In controlled experiments, some factors are tested, while the other factors are kept constant to improve the signal-to-noise ratio. Yet, controlled experiments have been conducted with variable degrees of control. Although they seem decoupled from archeological applications, mechanized experiments and the robust causal relationships they measure are critical to answer archeological questions like understanding the processes of use-wear formation. Here we introduce the concept behind using the SMARTTESTER®, a modular material tester, and we present four different setups (linear, rotary, percussion and oscillating) and their potential archeological applications. Such experiments will contribute to our understanding of causality in human tool use.
... Potential hafted stone projectiles are here synonymous with range weaponry, thrown by hand or with spear-throwers similar to those from recent times (Akerman & Bindon 1995). It is possible that thrusting or jabbing tools could have been used (Milks et al. 2016). This study examines the role of stone points as projectiles and multi-functional tools during the mid to late Holocene. ...
Article
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Macroscopic evidence for projectile use of stone points across the Kimberley region of northern Australia is examined using archaeological assemblages from the mid to late Holocene. There is scant evidence to support more than occasional projectile use. High rates of rejuvenation, recycling and continuous resharpening contribute to the low frequency of impact damage. The extent and location of edge damage, interpreted as probable use‐wear, is demonstrated to have distribution patterns consistent with multipurpose functions. Projectile use was merely one, albeit infrequent function of these versatile tools. This study uses use‐wear data to engage with technological organisation theory and discusses rates of use, resharpening, rejuvenation and recycling. Standardisation and an emphasis on maintainability provide the best explanation as to why people produced these tools during the Holocene. Les preuves macroscopiques de l'utilisation de pointes de pierre à l'aide de projectiles dans la région de Kimberley, dans le nord de l'Australie, ont été examinées à l'aide d'ensembles archéologiques datant de l'Holocène moyen à tardif. Il existe peu de preuves pour appuyer davantage que l'utilisation occasionnelle de projectiles. Les taux élevés de rajeunissement, de recyclage et de réaffûtage continu contribuent à la faible fréquence des dommages par impact. L'étendue et l'emplacement des dommages sur les bords, interprétés comme une usure probable, présentent des schémas de distribution compatibles avec les fonctions polyvalentes. L'utilisation de projectiles n’était qu'une des fonctions, même si elles étaient peu fréquentes, de ces outils polyvalents. Cette étude utilise des données d'usure pour porter sur la théorie de l'organisation technologique et pour discuter des taux d'utilisation, de réaffûtage, de rajeunissement et de recyclage. La normalisation et l'accent mis sur la maintenabilité fournissent la meilleure explication sur la raison pour laquelle les gens ont fabriqué ces outils pendant l'Holocène. Macroscopic evidence for projectile use of stone points across the Kimberley region of northern Australia is examined using archaeological assemblages from the mid to late Holocene. There is scant evidence to support more than occasional projectile use. High rates of rejuvenation, recycling and continuous resharpening contribute to the low frequency of impact damage. The extent and location of edge damage, interpreted as probable use‐wear, is demonstrated to have distribution patterns consistent with multipurpose functions. Projectile use was merely one, albeit infrequent function of these versatile tools. This study uses use‐wear data to engage with technological organisation theory and discusses rates of use, resharpening, rejuvenation and recycling. Standardisation and an emphasis on maintainability provide the best explanation as to why people produced these tools during the Holocene.
... The angles of entry and postulated nearness of the weapon delivery may indicate that hunters were stabbing mammoths that had fallen. Whether thrust or thrown, the points embedded in mammoth bones indicate tactical mammoth hunting with weaponry that was aimed at mammoth torsos, a probability that is also supported by the results of ballistic experiments on non-proboscideans [356,358,360]. ...
Article
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This is a peer-reviewed and corrected/updated discussion of >100 late Quaternary proboscidean sites in Africa, Europe, and Asia with evidence for hominin involvement. Lower Palaeolithic/Early Stone Age hominins created far fewer proboscidean assemblages than hominins in later Palaeolithic phases, in spite of the time span being many times longer. Middle Palaeolithic/Middle Stone Age hominins created assemblages at eight times the earlier hominin rate. Upper Palaeolithic/Later Stone Age hominins created site assemblages at >90 times the rate of Lower Palaeolithic hominins. Palaeoloxodon spp. occur in nearly one third of the sites with an identified or probable proboscidean taxon and Mammuthus species are in nearly one half of the sites with identified or probable taxon.
... At Round Green and Gaddesden Row, for example, numerous handaxes were found despite an almost total lack of débitage(White 1997). Clearly, Middle Pleistocene humans were habitually carrying bifaces made at one site around the plateaux for use elsewhere.Well-balanced wooden spears found at the MIS9 site of Schöningen, Germany, alongside the butchered remains of approximately 40 Equus mosbachensis(Davis and Ashton 2019;Milks et al. 2016;Schoch et al. 2015) demonstrate that such weapons were used successfully during the Middle Pleistocene to hunt large mammals (Wenban-Smith et al.2006). Pleistocene humans could have successfully hunted the large herbivores on the Chalk plateaux, perhaps using spears fashioned on staves from the wooded and shrubby areas. ...
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Our understanding of early human behaviour has always been and continues to be predicated on an archaeological record unevenly distributed in space and time. More than 80% of British Lower-Middle Palaeolithic findspots were discovered during the late 19th/early 20th centuries, the majority from lowland fluvial contexts. Within the British planning process and some academic research, the resultant findspot distributions are taken at face value, with insufficient consideration of possible bias resulting from variables operating on their creation. This leads to areas of landscape outside the river valleys being considered to have only limited archaeological potential. This thesis was conceived as an attempt to analyse the findspot data of the Lower-Middle Palaeolithic record of the Chalk uplands of southeast Britain and northern France within a framework complex enough to allow bias in the formation of findspot distribution patterns and artefact preservation/discovery opportunities to be identified and scrutinised more closely. Taking a dynamic, landscape = record approach, this research explores the potential influence of geomorphology, 19th/early 20th century industrialisation and antiquarian collecting on the creation of the LowerMiddle Palaeolithic record through the opportunities created for artefact preservation and release. It also explores the influence of differences between British and French Government archaeological policies and strategies, visualising the impact of each variable in turn on the creation of the findspot distribution patterns visible in that record. Based on the results of these visualisations, the thesis concludes that geomorphology has been the first and most influential variable, providing a more robust first-order explanation for distribution patterns than early human habitat preference alone. Late 19th/early 20th century industrialisation played the next most substantial role, its exposure of Pleistocene deposits creating opportunities for the antiquarian collectors whose activities ultimately created the findspot distribution patterns on which interpretations of early human behaviour have traditionally been based.
... Their experiments investigate how sharpness varies between stone edges made from different raw materials , how stone cutting edges perform relative to copper alternatives (Bebber et al. 2019) and the rate that a stone's edges blunt (Key et al. 2018). These studies are part of a broader movement within archaeology to apply mechanical research techniques to answer functional questions (e.g., Key 2016;Milks et al. 2016;Bebber 2017;Thomas et al. 2017;Kozowyk and Poulis 2019;Schmidt et al. 2019;Calandra et al. 2020;Key and Lycett 2020;Marreiros et al. 2020). ...
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Humans were regularly heat‐treating stone tool raw materials as early as 130 thousand years ago. The late Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Late Stone Age (LSA) of South Africa’s Western Cape region provides some of the earliest and most pervasive archaeological evidence for this behaviour. While archaeologists are beginning to understand the flaking implications of raw material heat treatment, its potential functional benefits remain unanswered. Using silcrete from the Western Cape region, we investigate the impact of heat treatment on stone tool cutting performance. We quantify the sharpness of silcrete in its natural, unheated form, before comparing it with silcrete heated in three different conditions. Results show that heat‐treated silcrete can be significantly sharper than unheated alternatives, with cutting forces halving and energy requirements reducing by approximately two thirds. Our data suggest that silcrete may have been heat treated during the South African MSA and LSA to increase the sharpness and performance of stone cutting edges. This early example of material engineering has implications for understanding Stone Age populations’ technological capabilities, inventiveness, and raw material choices. We predict that heat treatment behaviours in other prehistoric and ethnographic contexts may also be linked to edge sharpness increases and functional performance concerns.
... Experiments assessing projectile penetration have used clay, foam, and silica gel targets as substitutes for live targets or carcasses (e.g. Key et al., 2018;Loendorf et al., 2018;Milks et al., 2016;Schoville et al., 2017;Wilkins et al., 2014) and wooden boards have been used in projectile durability tests in lieu of trees (e.g. Lowe et al., 2019;Eren et al., 2021a). ...
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Experimental archaeology continues to mature methodologically and theoretically. Around the world, practitioners are increasingly using modern materials that would have been unavailable to prehistoric people in archaeological experiments. The use of a modern material substitute can offer several benefits to experimental method, design, control, replicability, feasibility, and cost, but it should be directly compared to its “traditional” analogue to understand similarities and differences. Here, aluminum is introduced as a substitute for chert in prehistoric ballistics research because, critically, aluminum is safe, inexpensive, easy to process, and it and chert possess densities that differ by less than 4%. The aluminum casting process for replicating stone artifacts is presented, and it is shown that the aluminum castings are essentially identical in form, flake-scar patterning, and mass to their stone counterparts. We then present a proof-of-concept ballistics experiment that demonstrates no difference between aluminum and stone points in terms of target penetration.
Article
Ground stone projectile points can be found throughout the global archaeological record, but why they were selected for by prehistoric foragers has received little attention. Additionally, modern archaeological experiments have increasingly used ground points in lieu of knapped ones. Here, we present an experiment testing whether there is a difference between ground, percussion flaked, and pressure flaked points in terms of impact durability. Our three groups were similar in form, raw material, and hafting, only differing in their production. Controlled ballistics tests demonstrated that ground stone points did not break at a different rate than either the percussion flaked or pressure flaked points, nor was post-firing point length (as a percentage of original point length) different. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that impact durability on its own was not likely a motivating factor for forager selection of grinding versus knapping. Instead, researchers should look to other factors, such as skill, demography, time budgets, or raw material selection to explain the emergence of ground stone points in particular contexts. Given our null results, our test also supports the use of ground stone points in modern archaeological experiments.
Article
Both the form of a stone tool and the anatomy of the individual using it have potential to influence its cutting performance. To date, however, the selective pressures acting on stone‐tool form and hominin biometric/biomechanical attributes have been investigated in isolation and their relative influence on performance have never been compared directly. This paper examines the influence of both tool‐form attributes and biometric variation on the functional performance of Acheulean handaxes. Specifically, it investigates the impact of 13 tool attributes and eight biometric traits on the working forces applied through the edge of 457 replica tools. The relative contribution of tool‐form and biometric attributes to handaxe loading levels were examined statistically. Results identify that both tool‐form attributes and biometric traits are significantly related to loading; however, tool–user biometric variation has a substantially greater impact relative to tool‐form attributes. This difference was demonstrated by up to a factor of 10. These results bear directly on the co‐evolutionary relationships of stone tools and hominin anatomy, and the comparative strength of selective pressure acting on each. They also underline why handaxe forms may have been free to vary in form across time and space without necessarily incurring critical impacts on their functional capabilities.
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The experimental assessment of prehistoric stone-tipped projectile weapons is a productive research area in experimental archaeology. The measurement of projectile velocity in these experiments is vital for establishing validity, ensuring control, and facilitating data analysis. Many studies have made use of the chronograph to measure stone-tipped projectile velocity, but this practice has never been formally tested. This is problematic because chronographs were not designed for such projectiles, which are different in their size, shape, and materials than modern projectiles. Here we assess chronograph measurement accuracy of stone-tipped projectile velocity by employing two control datasets: bullets and modern arrows. We predicted that if the chronograph accurately measured stone-tipped projectile velocity, then kinetic energy values of a modern arrow and a stone-tipped arrow fired from the same compound bow would be similar. Our analysis confirmed this to be the case. However, our analysis unexpectedly revealed that questions regarding chronograph measurement precision remain.
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Archaeological evidence shows that Neo-Assyrian soldiers used multiple arrowhead styles in their weapons arsenal. Indeed, finds from the site of Ziyaret Tepe, located in southeastern Turkey, show that both bilobate and trilobate arrowheads were found in association. Of interest to this study are the factors promoting the invention and perseverance of the trilobate arrowhead form. Manufacturing a trilobate point would have been more costly in both raw materials and energy needed to cast a complex three-dimensional form compared its bilobate counterpart. When considered from an economic standpoint, this generates questions regarding the factors that may have promoted the use of the more complex trilobate arrowheads. To better understand the development of trilobate forms, we began a series of experiments designed to assess the comparative functional efficiency of socketed bilobate versus the socketed trilobate arrowheads made from bronze. This initial study is the first in a long-term experimental program designed to understand variation in performance between arrowhead types. This foundational study focuses on an isolated variable—arrowhead penetration depth— in order to establish a baseline parameter for designing future studies in this series. Our results show that morphology does play a role in arrowhead performance, with bilobate forms penetrating significantly deeper into the target material, however, these results do not explain the functional benefit of the trilobate morphology.
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The period between 600 and 400 ka is a critical phase for human evolution in Europe. The south and northwest saw a dramatic increase in sites, the spread of handaxe technology alongside bone and wooden tool manufacture, efficient hunting techniques, and the use of fire. Lithic assemblages show considerable variation, including the presence/absence of handaxes and tool morphology. To explain this variation, we propose the Cultural Mosaic Model, which suggests that there is a range of expressions of the Acheulean, with local resources being instrumental in creating distinct material cultures with or without handaxes. We argue that if typologically and technologically distinct assemblage types are regionally distributed, chronologically separated, and persistent over time, then they are unlikely to be caused purely by raw material constraints or functional variation but rather reflect populations with different material cultures. We initially assess the model using British data. Britain was a northwestern peninsula of Europe, and oscillations in climate led to episodic occupation. The terraces of the pre-MIS 12 Bytham River provide a framework for dating occupation to MIS 13 and 15, while during MIS 11, archaeological sites with rich environmental records can be dated to substage level. We suggest there are six chronologically and typologically distinct assemblage types that reflect a series of population incursions into Britain. We review the broader European lithic record, which is consistent with the Cultural Mosaic Model. In developing the model, we suggest that during stable climate, localized cultures developed, while climatic change led to shifts in population, with increased knowledge exchange and gene flow. We suggest that group expression through material culture was an important stage in social development by promoting group cohesion, larger group size, better cooperation, improved knowledge transfer, and enabling populations to survive in larger foraging territories in northern Europe.
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The origins of complex projectile weaponry provides insight into cultural and biological changes associated with the origins and spread of modern human populations. Middle Stone Age backed pieces are often thought to be components of such armaments, however our limited understanding of their functional characteristics as projectiles precludes understanding the adaptive problems they may have solved. Despite acknowledgment of raw material differences and intra-assemblage variability, whether variability in backed piece form reflects functional, economic, or stylistic variation has a paucity of empirical support. Here, the functional differences in backed piece form (size and shape) while hafted transversely and obliquely as high-velocity complex projectile armatures are examined. If there are performance tradeoffs simply in how backed pieces are arranged at the end of armaments that can influence effectiveness, then identifying the archaeological arrangement can provide insight into what variables were being prioritized in prehistoric technological systems. How variation in backed piece size, elongation, and hafting arrangement influences complex projectile performance is tested using experimental and actualistic projectile replications with a calibrated crossbow against animal and ballistics gelatin targets. The results of this study show that, within the size and shape variation of silcrete backed pieces examined, tool form plays a relatively limited role in their performance as projectile armatures. However, hafting orientation has very different performance characteristics for complex projectiles shot at ballistics gelatin compared to animal targets. We demonstrate that transversely hafted tools have more lethal internal wounds, but obliquely hafted backed pieces have greater puncture reliability. These functional differences represent different technological design emphasis: transversely hafted tools create large, deep wounds, while obliquely hafted arrows and darts create a puncture more reliably. Although obliquely hafted armaments cause less internal trauma, they are more likely to penetrate the hide of ungulate prey. Variability in MSA hunting tactics may have played a role in the design of weapon systems to optimize these performance tradeoffs. Despite similarities in shape with ethno-historic technologies, based on these results, MSA-sized backed pieces hafted as projectile armatures were unlikely to have been used with small, low-powered bows - but would have been lethal with a high-velocity delivery system.
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Bipedalism is a defining feature of the human lineage. Despite evidence that walking on two feet dates back 6-7 Ma, reconstructing hominin gait evolution is complicated by a sparse fossil record and challenges in inferring biomechanical patterns from isolated and fragmentary bones. Similarly, patterns of social behavior that distinguish modern humans from other living primates likely played significant roles in our evolution, but it is exceedingly difficult to understand the social behaviors of fossil hominins directly from fossil data. Footprints preserve direct records of gait biomechanics and behavior but they have been rare in the early human fossil record. Here we present analyses of an unprecedented discovery of 1.5-million-year-old footprint assemblages, produced by 20+ Homo erectus individuals. These footprints provide the oldest direct evidence for modern human-like weight transfer and confirm the presence of an energy-saving longitudinally arched foot in H. erectus. Further, print size analyses suggest that these H. erectus individuals lived and moved in cooperative multi-male groups, offering direct evidence consistent with human-like social behaviors in H. erectus.
Chapter
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Stone tool hafting has always been considered important, but its interpretative potential has not yet been sufficiently recognized. While wear studies have recently demonstrated the possibility of deriving hafting data from the stone tools themselves, it is essential that these kinds of data are now also integrated with regard to armature identifications. New experiments with spears and arrows show that armature identifications are complex and that no single feature on its own is diagnostic of projectile impact. Also the distinction between different projecting modes is still seriously hampered by the lack of a reliable reference. It is argued that hafting wear is essential for more adequate identifications of armatures and their projecting mode. The analysis of a number of archaeological Middle Palaeolithic and Late Palaeolithic assemblages in North West Europe allowed identifying the existence of hafted spear points for the Middle Palaeolithic sites and arrows armed with tips and barbs for the Late Palaeolithic sites.
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The Paleolithic site of Schöningen is famous for the earliest known, completely preserved wooden weapons. Here we present recent results of an ongoing analysis of the nine spears, one lance, a double pointed stick, and a burnt stick dating to the Holsteinian, c. 300 kyr. Macroscopic and microscopic analyses, as well as studies of thin sections, contribute to a better understanding of the manufacture of the wooden weapons. They were deposited in organic sediments at a former lakeshore among numerous bones of butchered horses. In general, the spears are extremely well-preserved and show no or little sign of taphonomic alteration, although some of the weapons are broken and parts were slightly moved, probably by water action. The excellent preservation conditions provide considerable information on the operational sequence of production. The hunters selected thin trunks of spruce or pine and initially stripped off the bark. Traces of cutting, scraping, and smoothing can be observed on the spear surfaces in detail. In the case of spear X, repeated use of the weapon is implied by re-sharpening of the tip. Analyses of wood anatomy provide information on climatic conditions and contribute to the better understanding of the development of the site.
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We describe the results of a microscopic analysis of bone surfaces subjected to throwing, stabbing and butchering activities performed with replicated hafted Middle Stone Age lithic points. We propose that, based on certain diagnostic lesions on bone surfaces, one may distinguish between these three activities, and infer a practice of active hunting. We advocate that well-preserved Middle Stone Age faunal samples be subjected to microscopic examination for bone surface modification in order to improve our insight into human behaviour in the past.
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Evidence of interpersonal violence has been documented previously in Pleistocene mem- bers of the genus Homo, but only very rarely has this been posited as the possible manner of death. Here we report the earliest evidence of lethal interpersonal violence in the hominin fossil record. Cranium 17 recovered from the Sima de los Huesos Middle Pleistocene site shows two clear perimortem depression fractures on the frontal bone, interpreted as being produced by two episodes of localized blunt force trauma. The type of injuries, their location, the strong similarity of the fractures in shape and size, and the different orientations and im- plied trajectories of the two fractures suggest they were produced with the same object in face-to-face interpersonal conflict. Given that either of the two traumatic events was likely lethal, the presence of multiple blows implies an intention to kill. This finding shows that the lethal interpersonal violence is an ancient human behavior and has important implications for the accumulation of bodies at the site, supporting an anthropic origin.
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First evidence for the Homotherium latidens (European saber-toothed cat) in Lower Saxony. The remains came from the 320-300 ka old archaeological site Schöningen 13 II-4 (the spear-horizon).
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Stone-tipped weapons were a significant innovation for Middle Pleistocene hominins. Hafted hunting technology represents the development of new cognitive and social learning mechanisms within the genus Homo, and may have provided a foraging advantage over simpler forms of hunting technology, such as a sharpened wooden spear. However, the nature of this foraging advantage has not been confirmed. Experimental studies and ethnographic reports provide conflicting results regarding the relative importance of the functional, economic, and social roles of hafted hunting technology. The controlled experiment reported here was designed to test the functional hypothesis for stone-tipped weapons using spears and ballistics gelatin. It differs from previous investigations of this type because it includes a quantitative analysis of wound track profiles and focuses specifically on hand-delivered spear technology. Our results do not support the hypothesis that tipped spears penetrate deeper than untipped spears. However, tipped spears create a significantly larger inner wound cavity that widens distally. This inner wound cavity is analogous to the permanent wound cavity in ballistics research, which is considered the key variable affecting the relative 'stopping power' or 'killing power' of a penetrating weapon. Tipped spears conferred a functional advantage to Middle Pleistocene hominins, potentially affecting the frequency and regularity of hunting success with important implications for human adaptation and life history.
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Hunting is a characteristic feature of early human subsistence and many theories of evolution have emphasized the role of hunting in hominization. Still today hunting ability continues to be selected for in extant foragers with better hunters experiencing greater reproductive success. Yet little is known about the traits that comprise a successful hunter, traits that are presupposed to also be under selection. Two complementary empirical analyses were conducted to examine this question using data collected from Hadza hunter-gatherers in Tanzania. First, data on upper-body strength, running speed, target precision and visual and auditory acuity were collected to examine the traits that predict hunting reputation in men. Second, interview data were also collected from Hadza informants about the traits they deem important for hunting. Results from the first study implicate upper-body strength as the strongest and most consistent predictor of men’s hunting reputation. Hadza conventional wisdom also accord with these findings. Although informants stressed the importance of non-physical traits, such as “intelligence” and “heart”, strong arms were cited as the most important physical trait for hunting. Finally, men with stronger upper-bodies experienced greater reproductive success, a result that is largely mediated by hunting reputation. These findings suggest that selection for hunting ability may have acted on men’s upper-bodies. Nevertheless, the importance of effort on strength and hunting success cannot be dismissed. This is also discussed.
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Recent research has shown that Neanderthals were not inferior hunters and that their hunting weapons were similar to those used by broadly contemporaneous early modern human populations of South Africa. The oldest known spears are from the site of Schöningen, Germany (about 350–300 kya). However, the hunting equipment of Neanderthals was not limited to simple wooden spears. In western Europe, lithic spear points date as far back as Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6 (ca. 185–130 kya) and are documented from four sites. In South Africa, four Upper Pleistocene Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites (from 75 to 38 kya) have provided assemblages of unifacial and foliate points comparable in shape and hafting position to the European ones. Both kinds of assemblages indicate the use of hand-delivered spears. the backed pieces of Howiesons Poort (65 to 59 kya) are a type of composite weapon armature that has no equivalent in the Neanderthal hunting equipment, at least until the Châtelperronian (35 kya). The smaller pieces are suggested to have been used as transverse arrowheads. Based on detailed technological, morphometric, and impact scar analyses of backed pieces from Klasies River Main Site Cave 1A, Sibudu, and Rose Cottage, we suggest instead that the backed pieces were an innovative way of hafting spears but are not evidence of the invention of bows and arrows. Stronger evidence for the use of bows and arrows seems to occur only about 20,000 years later, in South Africa and in the Near East.
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Even uncontrolled "experimentation" such as sporting use of early hunting gear can provide insights into archaeological questions. Analyzing the records of a standardized atlatl competition over eight years offers some insights into spear thrower capabilities, learning curves, and the use of weapons by women and children. The sample is now large enough to provide a plausible analog to prehistoric atlatl capabilities, allowing us to judge ethnographic accounts and archaeological expectations. Atlatl skills can be acquired fairly rapidly by any adult or older youths. The atlatl should reduce the importance of body size and strength, and all but the youngest members of a society should be biologically capable of atlatl use where social rules allow it.
Article
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We describe the protocol in the first in a series of experiments to replicate macro-fractures, use-wear and residue distribution patterns on stone tools of the kind used in the Middle Stone Age (MSA) of southern Africa. To our knowledge, no similar experiments have previously been conducted in the region. Unretouched convergent flakes were produced from a selection of raw materials, especially quartzite and hornfels, hafted and used as hunting spears and butchery knives on parts of a Connochaetes taurinus (blue wildebeest) carcass. The hunting experiments were compared with results obtained in Europe on flint tools, and tested whether the concept of diagnostic impact fracture types can be applied to local raw materials and southern African MSA points. The differences in residue distribution patterns between hafted tools used for hunting as opposed to those employed for butchering were also replicated and documented. The preliminary results of these experiments are briefly compared with an archaeological sample from Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal. We demonstrate for local raw materials and MSA points the applicability of the diagnostic impact fracture types as described by Fisher et al.1.
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The wooden artifact widely known as the Clacton Spear (pl. 1) was discovered by Samuel Hazzledine Warren, F.G.S., in 1911. He dug it out of an undisturbed part of the freshwater sediments, probably a peaty seam, exposed on the foreshore at Clacton-on-Sea, c . 80 km ENE of London (Warren 1911; 1914, and in conversation with K.P.O. 1933). On 30th September 1911, Warren conducted a party of members of the Essex Field Club on a visit to see the outcrop of Pleistocene fluviatile deposits on the shore west of Clacton Pier, and in the brief report on this excursion, reference was made to the occurrence of fossil mammalia and Palaeolithic flint artifacts. At first Henri Breuil tentatively identified the worked flints with the Mesvinian industry of Belgium; but after Warren's amassment of a larger collection, he recognized that the Clacton flint artifacts represented a distinct Palaeolithic industry, or tradition, for which he proposed the name Clactonian (see Warren 1922 and 1926; Breuil 1932).
Book
The objective of this volume is to showcase the contemporary state of research on recognizing and evaluating the performance of stone age weapons from a variety of viewpoints, including investigating their cognitive and evolutionary significance. New archaeological finds and experimental studies have helped to bring this subject back to the forefront of human origins research. In the last few years, investigations have expanded beyond examining the tools themselves to include studies of damage caused by projectile weapons on animal and hominin bones and skeletal asymmetries in ancient hominin populations. Only recently has there been a growing interest in controlled and replicative experiments. Through this book readers will be updated in the state of knowledge through a multidisciplinary scientific reconstruction of prehistoric weapon use and its implications. Contributions from expert authors are organized into three themed parts: recognizing weapon use (experimental and archaeological studies of impact traces), performance of weapon systems (factors influencing penetration depth etc.), and behavioral and evolutionary ramifications (cognitive and ecological effects of using different weapons).
Article
IN the literature pertaining to the present or former use of the spear-thrower by peoples around the world the attributes of associated projectiles often have been overlooked. This may be due to the fact that it is commonly assumed that the incorporation of this weapon in the material culture of a society would have entailed slight, if any, structural modifications in the design and construction of previously existing hand-thrown spears. There is, in fact, considerable evidence from Australia indicating that this was not the case. Weight measurements obtained from 33 Australian hand-thrown spears and 293 spear-thrower projectiles available for examination at the British Museum of Mankind, the Horniman Museum, The Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and the Royal Scottish Museum revealed that hand-thrown spears and spear-thrower projectiles may be clearly differentiated on the basis of mass and balance. Among specific types of spear-thrower projectiles it was found that there was a remarkable consistency in the distribution of mass along the shaft irrespective of the origin of the specimen. Based upon measurements of mass and balance it is concluded that the development of light-weight, balanced projectiles was a direct response to the challenge of designing a projectile which would exploit the full potential of the spear-thrower as a new method of casting spears at greatly increased velocity.
Article
The pilot study summarized in this paper aimed to raise awareness of a gap that exists in the forensic textile science literature about damage caused to clothing by trained sharp-weapon users. A male trained in the Filipino martial arts discipline of Eskrima performed attack techniques on a physical model of a male torso covered with a 97% cotton/3% elastane knitted T-shirt, that is, a garment commonly worn by males. Fabric severance appearance created by three different, but commonly available, knives was evaluated. High-speed video was used to capture each attack. After each attack the resulting damage to the garment was assessed. This pilot study highlighted differences in severances associated with weapon selection, that is, not all knives resulted in similar patterns of textile damage. In addition, a mixture of stab and slash severances were observed. The findings demonstrated the possible misinterpretation of textile damage under these circumstances compared to damage patterns reported in the existing forensic textile science literature for more commonly occurring knife attacks (i.e. stabbings).
Chapter
TCSA and TCSP are often considered valuable measures of projectile performance, particularly in terms of penetration and overall design. Proponents of this view have also argued that TCSA/TCSP may also be useful for identifying the origins and spread of more complex projectile technologies such as the spear thrower and bow. The strength of these arguments will be tested against ethnographic data and new experiments. The results suggest that TCSA/TCSP statistics are not robust measures of projectile performance, or reliable proxies for inferring delivery systems. An alternative approach is developed using experimental data that compares impact fracture size for three different diagnostic impact fracture types. This approach, while found to be valuable, also presents problems for archaeological identification of projectile technologies.
Chapter
In the last few decades, zooarchaeological studies have demonstrated beyond doubt that the hunting abilities of hominins were quite formidable from quite early on. Unfortunately, direct evidence for the use of weapons in hunting is quite rare and depends heavily on the preservation of organic elements. In particular, in the absence of such evidence, it is notoriously difficult to pinpoint the first appearance of complex, mechanically-assisted projectiles (such as darts and arrows) in the archaeological record. In this chapter, we present data from a controlled ballistic experiment with the aim of establishing patterns in the formation of impact fractures that would allow for the discrimination of thrusting spears, (hand-thrown) javelins , and spearthrower darts and arrows. By controlling for the weapon tip shape, weight, and raw material, impact angle (IA) , as well as target composition, we are able to focus on the key elements that separate the different launching systems: velocity and kinetic energy output. The results show that fracture scar length is proportional to kinetic energy at impact, but only if the impact is perpendicular, as acute IAs reduce the energy requirements for the production of large, typical impact fractures. We also confirm previous results of Hutchings (JAS 38:1737–1746, 2011) regarding the relationship between precursory loading rate and fracture propagation speed, documenting a weak linear relationship between the two in our sample. We conclude by discussing the implications of this study for identifying different weapon armatures in the archaeological record.
Chapter
Recent anthropological and archaeological studies in western Eurasia indicate that long-range projectile hunting was innovated by modern humans, and that complex projectile technology, such as using spearthrowers or bows (Shea and Sisk 2010), was an important component of behavioral modernity . The morphometric analysis of stone tips, including tip cross-sectional area (TCSA) and tip cross-sectional perimeter (TCSP) , may facilitate suggestions for an optimum delivery method of stone tips as hunting weaponry. However, the suggested method does not always coincide with the true functions of the stone tips. Thus, this study developed a projectile experiment project to confirm additional indicators for identifying the delivery methods of prehistoric hunting armatures and to detect the emergence of spearthrower darts and bows and arrows in East Asia. Furthermore, macroscopic and microscopic analyses of the experimental specimens reveal a correlation between both the formation patterns of impact fractures as well as microscopic linear impact traces (MLIT) and impact velocities. This paper presents results of the projectile experiments, which provide indices to examine spearthrower darts and arrowheads in archaeological assemblages.
Book
Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer (1860-1929) was a British Australian biologist and anthropologist, best known for his work amongst the indigenous Aboriginal tribes of Australia. After graduating from Exeter College, Oxford in 1884 Spencer was elected a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford in 1886 before being appointed the Professor of Biology at the University of Melbourne. In 1911 Spencer was appointed Special Commissioner for Aborigines and undertook fieldwork in the Northern Territories between 1911-1912. This volume, first published in 1914, is the result of his fieldwork. Spencer describes in detail the social customs, kinship structures, marriage ceremonies and religious beliefs of thirteen tribes he encountered in the Northern Territories. Spencer also compares differences and similarities in the religious and social structures of different tribes and includes copious illustrations of religious and political monuments. This volume was the first ethnography of these tribes and provides valuable insights into these societies.
Chapter
Stone points were among the very first artifacts to attract scholarly attention, and they have consistently retained the interest of archaeologists. In recent years, the study of projectile points has progressed from descriptive concerns of culture history and typology (e. g., Bell 1958, 1960) to the general investigation of hunting technology (Larralde 1990; Odell 1988). As distinctive variables of hand-thrown spears and arrows have become evident, the behavioral implications of projectile alternatives have come into better focus.
Article
Mercury as a pollutant is emerging as a significant issue in the southeastern United States due to recent emphasis by the U. S. EPA on the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) provisions of the Clean Water Act. A number of water bodies are on state 303(d) lists of impaired waters due to fish consumption advisories for mercury. In some states, settlement agreements for legal actions taken by environmental activist groups are forcing mercury TMDLs to be established with immediacy. Several additional factors have heightened the concerns of industry with regard to mercury. Recently proposed changes to the TMDL regulations specifically name air deposition as a non-point source of pollution that must be considered in TMDL analyses. Therefore, many waste incinerators and fossil fuel-fired industrial boilers will come under added scrutiny. EPA has adopted a new analytical method for mercury in water that has a detection limit of 0.5 parts per trillion (0.5 ng/L), over 200 times more sensitive than previous approved methods. It is EPA's intent to specify this new method in tests required under NPDES permits. Thus, many permittees may find they are discharging trace levels of mercury that, when measured, will identify them as a source. The net effect of these new developments is that many facilities previously immune to this issue may find themselves embroiled in mercury TMDLs. This paper will discuss sources of mercury in the southeastern U.S., both natural and anthropogenic, specific situations under which mercury can become methylated and bioaccumulate in fish, and review the current status of mercury fish consumption advisories and TMDLs. It concludes with a discussion of the potential impacts of mercury TMDLs on the pulp and paper industry.
Article
This paper proposes that complex projectile weaponry was a key strategic innovation driving Late Pleistocene human dispersal into western Eurasia after 50 Ka. It argues that complex projectile weapons of the kind used by ethnographic hunter-gatherers, such as the bow and arrow, and spearthrower and dart, enabled Homo sapiens to overcome obstacles that constrained previous human dispersal from Africa to temperate western Eurasia. In the East Mediterranean Levant, the only permanent land bridge between Africa and Eurasia, stone and bone projectile armatures like those used in the complex weapon systems of recent humans appear abruptly ca 45–35 Ka in early Upper Paleolithic contexts associated with Homo sapiens fossils. Such artifacts are absent from Middle Paleolithic contexts associated with Homo sapiens and Neandertals. Hypotheses concerning the indigenous vs. exogenous origins of complex projectile weaponry in the Levant are reviewed. Current evidence favors the hypothesis that complex projectile technology developed as an aid to ecological niche broadening strategies among African populations between 50–100 Ka. It most likely spread to western Eurasia along with dispersing Homo sapiens populations. Neandertals did not routinely deploy projectile weapons as subsistence aids. This puzzling gap in their otherwise impressive record for survival in some of the harshest environments ever occupied by primates may reflect energetic constraints and time-budgeting factors associated with complex technology
Chapter
In a recent synthesis of the British Palaeolithic, Derek Roe concluded that now is the moment to draw it all together and write the prehistory of the British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic—and now is also the moment when the cornucopia of fact and opinion seems suddenly inclined to run dry.... So be it: after all it was made clear at the very beginning of the first chapter that the task of producing an acceptable factual account of how men lived during this period in Britain was actually impossible. (1981:268)
Article
Thermoluminescence (TL) data are presented for eight samples of heated flint collected at the archaeological site of Schöningen 13/I-1 (Cycle I), for which a Holsteinian age is suggested by palynology of stratigraphically similar positions within a cyclic sedimentological model for the Quaternary sequence of Schöningen. Although the fire responsible for the zeroing of the TL-signal cannot be unequivocally attributed to human activities, any time difference between a natural fire and the human occupation is negligible for a site of this antiquity. The weighted mean age of 321 ± 16 ka places the last heating of the flints nominally in the age range of Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 10 to 8. By inference this data would suggest an attribution of the Holsteinian to MIS 9 and may also serve as a maximum age estimate for the spear site of Schöningen 13/II-4 (Cycle II). Considering the chronometric data available and following an alternative sedimentological model the age of these two sites at Schöningen can be considered as belonging to the same climatic cycle. This suggests an attribution to MIS 9, and by inference provides an age estimate of 337-300 ka for the oldest spears in human history. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Article
During a stabbing, apparel fabrics are usually damaged and may be penetrated. Despite numerous studies considering forces required to penetrate skin and human stabbing performance, none have systematically evaluated which variables affect severance appearance from a textile science perspective using a human stabbing participant assessment. Although the human performance aspects of stabbing attacks have been previously studied, there has been a bias towards male assailants. The effects of fabric elasticity and tension applied have been identified as major factors influencing the severance profile in the fabric resulting from a stab attack. However, previous studies have considered limited fabric types with little emphasis on the physical and mechanical textile properties. The purpose of the current research was to use a human participant study (male n=5; female n=5) to determine the effect of fabric extension (0%, 10%) on the severance profile. Fabric type (single jersey; 100% cotton; 93% cotton/7% elastane), age (not laundered; laundered 60 times) and knife type (carving, bread) were also considered. Severance length was affected by participant sex, fabric type, laundering and knife type. The severances formed in this study were not significantly affected by the amount a fabric was extended when stabbed. Variability was observed in the severance appearance among participants where prior training influenced the angle of impact and knife withdrawal technique. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Article
The cave paintings and other preserved remnants of Paleolithic peoples shed light on a world little known to us, one so deeply embedded in time that information about it seems unrecoverable. While art historians have wrestled with these images and objects, very few scientists ha ve weighed in on Paleolithic art as artifacts of a complex, living society. R. Dale Guthrie is one of the first to do so, and his monumental volume The Nature of Paleolithic Art is a landmark study that will change the shape of our understanding of these marvelous images. With a natural historians keen eye for observation, and as one who has spent a lifetime using bones and other excavated materials to piece together past human behavior and environments, Guthrie demonstrates that Paleolithic art is a mode of expression we can comprehend to a remarkable degree and that the perspective of natural history is integral to that comprehension. He employs a mix of ethology, evolutionary biology, and human universals to access these distant cultures and their art and artifacts. Guthrie uses innovative forensic techniques to reveal new information; estimating, for example, the ages and sexes of some of the artists, he establishes that Paleolithic art was not just the creation of male shamans. With more than 3,000 images, The Nature of Paleolithic Art offers the most comprehensive representation of Paleolithic art ever published and a radical (and controversial) new way of interpreting it. The variety and content of these images—most of which have never been available or easily accessible to nonspecialists or even researchers —will astonish you. This wonderfully written work of natural history, of observation and evidence, tells the great story of our deepest past.
Article
Full text: http://www.quartaer.eu/pdfs/1951/1951_05_adam.pdf
Chapter
Energy investment in reproduction is of primary evolutionary importance, and changes in energy budgets due to shifts in anatomy, activity, or development can affect reproductive rates. The energetic consequences of differences between archaic and modern humans can therefore provide insight into how modern humans were ultimately able to out-compete their archaic counterparts. Here we investigate three major areas of differentiation between archaic and modern humans that likely had significant energetic ramifications, and for which reliable fossil evidence exists: body size, locomotor anatomy, and juvenile growth. Using these data, we explore potential energetic disparities between archaic and modern humans in terms of proportions of energy budgets of reproductively active adults dedicated to maintenance (basic life functions and physical activity) versus offspring production. In comparison to modern humans, adult archaic humans would have had higher maintenance costs corresponding to their larger bodies (higher resting and activity energy requirements) and shorter lower limbs (reduced locomotor efficiency). Moreover, faster growth rates in archaic juveniles could have meant slightly higher daily energy requirements for dependent offspring in archaic versus modern humans. Overall, assuming similar caloric returns from foraging in both groups, modern humans' smaller bodies, longer lower limbs, and slower development may have allowed them to produce a greater number of viable offspring over the reproductive lifespan than could archaic humans, possibly at a ratio of ˜6:5. These reproductive differences may have facilitated higher population densities among modern humans, likely contributing to the rise of modern humans and disappearance of archaic forms.
Article
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Article
Highlights ► Identical copies of a Levallois point from Jabrud were cast in glass and hafted. ► Spears were fired from an air-gun at a ballistic gelatine and synthetic bone target. ► Increasing the kinetic energy (KE) at impact increases extent and type of damage. ► Decreasing the angle of incidence has equivalent effects to increasing KE.
Article
Quaternary deposits had to be removed to get access to, and to explore the Palaeogene lignite in the area east of the village of Schöningen (Germany), and by removing the top-layers a number of archaeological sites have been discovered. In 1992 the first Palaeolithic artefacts were found and the locality became world-famous after one of the highlights of the Schöningen project, the discovery in 1995 of the Palaeolithic wooden throwing spears at the site Schö 13 II-4. The spears are found among remains of butchered horses. The mammalian fossil record of that site comprises >12,000 larger mammal and several thousands of small mammal remains. The faunal record (representing at least 30 taxa) includes remains that are scattered over the excavated area and interpreted as a natural background fossil record in a palaeolandscape in which early hominins operated. The site Schö 13 II-4 yielded, in addition to the scattered “natural background” fossils, several thousands of horse remains, many of which are smashed and butchered, from the more or less complete carcasses of 20–25 horses.
Conference Paper
Soft tissue simulants are used in ballistic testin g as a tool for capturing the interaction projectiles have with living tissu e. No internationally agreed standard exists for the preparation of such tissue simulants; a factor that has led to questions regarding reliability a nd re producibility of results presente d in the open lite r ature. A calibra tion method for 10 % gelatine has been suggested utilising low velocity projectiles [1]. Howe ve r, recent work has suggested that gelatine is strain rate se nsitive [2]. The re fore it may be more appropriate to te st at velocities representative of the projectile unde r inve stigation. This paper presents a modified method to assess the differences in penetration depth in three simulants. Non-deformable ball bearings (BBs) of similar diameter to ammunition of interest (5.5 mm BBs, 5.56 mm × 45 mm) at a range of velocities re presentative of different engagement ranges (150 m/s, 250 m/s, 500 m/s, 750 m/s and 1050 m/s) were used.
Article
This paper discusses palynological investigations and new 230Th/U ages of two Upper Middle Pleistocene sequences of the formerly glaciated Northern German Lowlands, the Reinsdorf sequence at the open mine of Schöningen, Lower Saxony and the North Friesian site of Leck. New 230Th/U ages of late interglacial organic layers of the archaeological lake margin site of the Reinsdorf sequence ranging from 280 to 343 ka give evidence for a correlation of those deposits with Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 9. Near and long distance correlation by means of palynological investigations of Holsteinian and related interglacial continental deposits and their correlation with the MIS is discussed. Isotopic investigations of uranium and thorium from organic-rich mud deposits at core Leck 8 point to an open-system, and age estimation by 230Th/U-dating remains therefore unclear. Compared to other Upper Middle Pleistocene warm periods in North Germany, correlations of the Leck-Interglacial with the Holsteinian and the Reinsdorf interglacial can be excluded. In comparison with sediment successions from the Nachtigall section at Höxter and the section Ottostraße at Göttingen, the Leck-Interglacial is discussed as a correlative of a warm temperate phase of MIS 7.