5th Experimental Archaeology Conference Abstract – Geoff M Smith

From the 5th Experimental Archaeology Conference, Reading, 2011.

The efficiency of wooden projectiles: experimental observations and archaeological implications

Geoff M. Smith (website)

Post-Doc Researcher at RGZM: Palaeolithic Dept

The recovery of wooden implements from sites such as Clacton and Schöningen have increased interest into how these implements were created and how effective they were. This paper details ongoing experimental research into the role and efficiency of wooden spears as hunting projectiles. The experiments used wooden spears based on the dimensions of archaeological specimens recovered at Schöningen; a professional javelin thrower was used to see how effectively these spears performed as javelins and what type of damage was caused to the carcass and skeleton. This research provides both experimental and archaeological evidence to suggest that wooden implements, like those from Schöningen and Clacton, were used as wooden projectiles. The data from the experiment demonstrated that these implements cause a high level of damage and certainly would have caused massive internal injury. These experiments illustrated the effectiveness and durability of these spears as hunting implements and provide insight regarding the tools, technology and subsistence strategy of Middle/Late Pleistocene hominid populations.

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