The History and Development of Projectile Technology Research

  • Heidi Knecht

Abstract

Projectile technology refers to launched weapons used in both hunting and warfare. In the present context, analyses are limited to discussion of spears, spearthrowers, arrows, and bows. Thrusting spears, which are not actually projectile weapons in that they never leave the hand of the operator during use, are often referred to as lances. Some archaeologists prefer the term “dart” for spears propelled with the aid of a spearthrower. Without entering a semantic debate, in this chapter, the word “dart” will be reserved for light, slim pointed projectiles such as are used with blowguns, and the word “spear” will be retained to describe the more massive, longer, robust weapons which are thrown by hand or with a spearthrower. Other projectile technologies used by prehistoric hunters, for example, bolas, slingshots, and boomerangs, were more restricted in terms of geographic extent and specialized use and are not the subject of the present analyses. Also, guns, which are frequently used for hunting by contemporary ethnographic groups, many of which also use spears and/or arrows, are not a subject of particular emphasis here.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi Knecht
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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