When Did Humans Begin Hurling Spears?


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Fred Fuller
May 24, 2013, 11:26 PM
http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2013/05/when-did-humans-begin-hurling-sp.html?ref=hp
When Did Humans Begin Hurling Spears?
by Heather Pringle on 17 May 2013, 5:55 PM
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Some interesting data and research methods being put to work here - I can't help but think it was longer ago than a mere 100k years or so, but evidence is still evidence and older evidence seems to be lacking.

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Old Fuff
May 25, 2013, 01:30 AM
I can't remember cuz' I was just a little guy back then... :neener:

PRD1
May 25, 2013, 01:59 AM
can't remember, nobody can. And, in his case, it's just because his memory isn't what it once was. I'm sure he WAS there...;)

I think he told me once that it was shortly after he developed opposable thumbs.

PRD1 - mhb - Mike

Old Fuff
May 25, 2013, 12:08 PM
Well some folks have said that I'm "all thumbs." :uhoh:

Regarding spears, if you throw the one you have you were probably left without a weapon, and this might have slowed the technique.

hso
May 25, 2013, 12:38 PM
IIRC from my physical anthro 30+ years ago, a fire hardened wooden tip isn't going to penetrate with a throw so the development of stone points had to take place before spears could be thrown.

Certaindeaf
May 25, 2013, 01:17 PM
IIRC from my physical anthro 30+ years ago, a fire hardened wooden tip isn't going to penetrate with a throw so the development of stone points had to take place before spears could be thrown.
I really don't think that'd stop a monkey though. Also, not all wood is equal.. some wood is strong/hard enough to penetrate a steel barrel.

PRD1
May 25, 2013, 03:55 PM
Your observation on throwing away your weapon is a good one. However; I am reminded of the label of one of my favorite brews - Polygamy Porter (really!) - the motto on which reads, above a scene of bacchanalian revelry - " Why have just one?".

PRD1 - mhb - Mike

Old Fuff
May 25, 2013, 05:08 PM
As I seem to remember, in those pre-historic days one was not allowed to have more then one spear, and of course the authorities required that it be registered to the owner after a background check was performed. This in fact was the driving force behind the invention of numbers... :uhoh: :scrutiny: :D

AJumbo
May 25, 2013, 06:18 PM
I'll ask Dad....

AJumbo
May 25, 2013, 06:30 PM
But seriously.....

I've read of Apaches making mesquite wood arrow points, hardened in a fire. There are woods that will penetrate steel, but those woods don't grow everywhere. Mesquite is common here in the Sonoran Desert, but one rarely finds a limb long or straight enough to make a decent spear. Saguaro ribs can be both, but won't take much of a point. Combine the two, you might have something. HOWEVER...

The Athabaskan people who migrated across the Bering Land Bridge were already using spears when they decamped from Siberia. Does anyone know whether the hunters depicted in the Lascaux Cave paintings are shown throwing their spears, or only using them as lances?

Bobson
May 25, 2013, 07:09 PM
Deleted for now.

40 rod
May 26, 2013, 01:21 AM
A must see movie for all you spearchucker wannabees is 'End of the spear' a documentery by a christian missionary group, and avalible as DVD. Set in 1970s South America a true and realistc story . Missonaries armed with shotguns and revolvers are slaughted by primitives with sharp sticks .

PRM
May 26, 2013, 08:26 AM
4 July, 4016 BC, It was known as "the spear chucked around the world." It created much discord between the Woodchuck Chuckers Union and the Spear Chuckers United Movement. The Woodchucks immediately began trying to ban and limit the size and velocity of pointy "chuckable" objects. Nothing has been the same since... :neener:

Certaindeaf
May 26, 2013, 11:10 AM
I bet they'd be all jealous of us these days.. what with our tactical rails and red-dot sights.
stupid dummy's

Remember, use enough stick!

ThorinNNY
May 26, 2013, 11:52 AM
Boomerbible, indeed!

SlamFire1
May 30, 2013, 05:58 PM
Sometime after the creation of the earth in 4004 BC. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ussher_chronology

Sam1911
May 30, 2013, 06:13 PM
Sometime after the creation of the earth in 4004 BC. Please don't. We've already had the quasi-religious alternative history argument, and removed it as off-topic.

Certaindeaf
May 30, 2013, 07:34 PM
We need a sticky.

MaterDei
May 31, 2013, 12:27 AM
4 July, 4016 BC, It was known as "the spear chucked around the world." It created much discord between the Woodchuck Chuckers Union and the Spear Chuckers United Movement. The Woodchucks immediately began trying to ban and limit the size and velocity of pointy "chuckable" objects. Nothing has been the same since...
Well played, PRM!

kBob
May 31, 2013, 09:33 AM
I can not imagine anyone even eating a spear in the first place let alone chucking it.

Pre history means before folks kept records. Most likely done by and ancestor of John Moses Browning though........

-kBob

Cosmoline
May 31, 2013, 01:24 PM
I have little doubt the right fire hardened wood would penetrate soft tissue. But then it would just slip right out again. They needed something that would penetrate and lodge in tissue or bone. That way the animal can be "worried to death" as they say by repeated spears. But there's so much we don't know about the various methods. I suspect those hunters were a lot sharper than their spears. Maybe even using the thrown spears to herd the beast into a prepared killing zone. Who knows. All that enormous brain power was around even very early on, and had to be there for a reason. They likely knew the habits of the wildlife better than a modern biologist, and could plan well in advance.

Certaindeaf
May 31, 2013, 02:59 PM
It seems atlatl's were used for about 20,000 years. That's a killing machine. They probably used regular spears a bit before that though.

Archaic Weapon
May 31, 2013, 07:28 PM
Probably shortly after somebody got tired of throwing rabbit sticks a new way, and having them bounce off.
It really depends on what the spear was designed to be used as. Evidence would suggest that the spear was large and not designed for throwing. It makes sense that the spear was originally a long stick to keep others/enemies/predators at a distance. It was probably then sharpened on the observable facts that sharp broken sticks wound better, or perhaps that claws and teeth have points, and they have the desired effect. The next step is someone getting brave or terrified, and hurling it to at a target out of reach.

Looked at along those lines, perhaps a rather long time ago. A large point without a cutting edge is preferable to a small point with no edge when after game that has to bleed out. Skills, luck, and close range. Neanderthals were rather well built for that type of hunting.

JoergS
June 1, 2013, 01:51 AM
AFAIk the oldest spears have been found right here in Germany.

They are over 300,000 years old, and belonged to a group of homo heidelbergensis hunters. This was a very early human, way earlier than the Neanderthal man.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%B6ningen_Spears

These spears are long, and effective. Athletes can throw exact replicas 70 meters far!

kBob
June 1, 2013, 07:37 AM
Jeorge,

Thanks for the link to wiki and thanks for knocking loose some memories. That link included a link that reminded me of an evening in 1974. As a young GI of the Infantry I complained with the rest about hiking and sleeping out side......so naturally on a weekend off a friend and I hiked to the next village and camped out. I was at that time assigned to a Combat Alert Site for the Pershing Missile system (there is a non-firearm weapon for you!) in the lovely little village of Inneringen in Sigmaringen landkkries. The next village was VerringenStadt which features two caves of Neandertal men and the ruins of an old fortress.

Arnie and I camped out in the Mammoth hunters cave over night (bet folks can't do that today) and crossed the valley and made the climb to the ruins and the Bear hunters cave the next day.

It was a great trip.

No spear throwing though.......

-kBob

Double Naught Spy
June 1, 2013, 08:15 AM
So does it strike anybody as odd that for a study purported to be distinguishing the difference between thrusting and hurling of stone tipped spears at game that no experiments were actually done with thrusting?

Note in the description that the tests were done by O'Driscoll with hurling ONLY and compared against butchery marks. Differences were found between hurling impact damage on bone and butchering damage on bone. Even bits of stone were found in the damage of some of the impacts. Cool. However, this completely fails to distinguish between thrusting and hurling. It only distinguishes between impact damage and butchering damage.

The study is still neat, but not for the reasons claimed.

craftsman
June 10, 2013, 09:15 PM
I'll go with pre Homo Heidelbergensis. The reason for that, look at Chimps (Pan Troglodytes) - they intentionally break branches and use them as stabbing spears. They split off the "family tree" about 4 million years ago. It would not take long to determine that one can safely throw that broken branch. Fire-hardening comes several millions of years later (gotta master fire first), and stone points not too far (10s of thousands of years) after that.

Now, if you're a Darwinian, that's all fine - me? I like the "This is an alien penal colony planet, like the state of Georgia was for the Brits" theory. it explains a lot more (30,000 plus year old 100 ton, laser cut stonework in the Andes; pyramids and henges around the globe aligned with ley lines, etc.) LOL!

hso
June 10, 2013, 09:33 PM
Double Naught,

They have the thrusting vs. butchering already to compare to the new projectile "data".

Double Naught Spy
June 11, 2013, 01:23 AM
Sorry, didn't see that in the summary article or the abstract. You have a link to where this comparison was done? Otherwise, all is see is basically this...
He found "quite a difference between the butchering marks and projectile impact marks," he says. cited from the OP's link.

The article claims they made a determination, but the leaves out have of the information that would be necessary to support the claim. Nowhere was it stated that they even looked at thrusting or thrusting data, but did look at butchering and hurling data. See my point? It appears they are saying that butchering leaves no stone bits behind in the striae, but a hurled spear can...and that is where they leave it. So a piece of bone with a stone bit in the damage stria is hurling. So I am confused by how this paper made such a determination for thrusting.

I didn't attend the SAAs this year as they were in Hawaii and I am now retired, so I missed the opportunity to see the presentation. I have spent time with a lot of the New World literature on cut mark evidence and am not familiar with thrusting v. butchery research, but maybe I missed it especially if it was "buried" in the lithic literature and not the zooarch literature. If Old World, then I definitely missed it as I don't spend time with that literature.

So whatever help you would offer would be great.

Coop45
June 11, 2013, 01:28 AM
Old Fluff's first job was "spear retriever" for Alley Oop!

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