A New Look at One of the Oldest Weapons

A New Look at One of the Oldest Weapons

Not long earlier, Alexander Langlands began whittling sticks. The archaeologist felt a subliminal yearning towards the activity. “It’s addicting,” he composes in his 2017 book Cræft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts. “And obviously in my blood.”

When Langlands was growing up, he couldn’t keepinmind a time when his dad wasn’t sculpting detailed figures into strolling sticks. But Langlands neverever thought he’d discover himself in his dad’s location, enjoying the activity himself.

Langlands has a interesting theory about stick-making—that is, shaping logs or branches into tools or weapons. “Sticks are mostlikely where the story of craft starts—the point at which our really remote forefathers advanced from animalistic presences to lives materially improved by the things around them,” he composes.

The initial carver paid close attention to the branch’s hard-to-work knots.

With his newfound fondness for the art of whittling, passed down from his father, Langlands started to marvel if stick-making wasn’t passed down from our earliest forefathers. In truth, he questioned if, for early male, stick-making weren’t simply as “sophisticated” as stone tool making, significance methodically developed and needing significant ability to produce.

It’s “almost unthinkable that Australopithecus, Homo habilis, erectus, neanderthalensis, and sapiens did not establish this innovation to the verysame degree of elegance as they had stone-tool innovation,” Langlands composes. “But duetothefactthat of wood’s failure to makeitthrough in the historical record, it will permanently be a story that stays unknown and one simply assumed by the fantasizing of speculative archaeologists such as myself.”

But now the story is being informed. True, wood breaksdown (thank you, fungis). But exceptions exist and scientists are start to researchstudy them carefully. The Schöningen spears, excavated in Germany in the 1990s, are 300,000 years old, preceding contemporary humanbeings. The weapons—which consistof a couple of carefully crafted smallersized double-pointed “throwing sticks”—exhibit “outstanding conservation,” according to Nature, after being buried and leaving any directexposure to oxygen for so long. 

In Body Image
GET TO THE POINT: One of the 300,000-year old double-pointed “throwing sticks” exposed at the Schöningen excavation website, in Germany. Photo courtesy of Milks, A., et al. A double-pointed wood throwing stick from Schöningen, Germany: Results and brand-new insights from a multianalytical researchstudy. PLOS One (2023).

One of the Schöningen throwing sticks is the star of a brand-new researchstudy led by Annemieke Milks, an archaeologist a

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