SUSU experts, as part of an international team, successfully reconstructed a remarkable compound bow from the Bronze Age, standing nearly 2 meters tall, using authentic materials. During that era, this weapon possessed unparalleled accuracy, range, and lethality.
According to specialists, the reconstruction of objects based on archaeological evidence is currently a crucial focus in historical research. By employing indirect data, scientists can gain a better understanding of the technological advancements and daily lives of our ancestors through the reconstruction of artifacts from the past.
Specialists highlighted that the reconstruction of objects using archaeological data is a vital area of modern historical science. By utilizing indirect data, scientists can enhance their comprehension of ancestral technology and daily activities through the reconstruction of ancient artifacts.
A team of researchers from South Ural State University undertook a unique experiment to reconstruct a four-thousand-year-old bow. The foundation of this reconstruction consisted of horn components discovered in three burial sites belonging to the Sintashta people, an ancient Indo-Iranian tribe. These burial sites were located in the Southern Urals, dating back to the transition between the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, a period associated with the famous Arkaim settlement.
The scientists informed us that this type of bow possessed exceptional penetrating power, capable of piercing bone and horn plate armor. It was likely an elite weapon used by chariot warriors but could also have been employed by aristocrats for hunting large animals.
The asymmetrical shape of the bow, balanced by the horn components, possibly provided the lower arm of the weapon with unique ergonomic advantages, enabling it to be fired from a war vehicle.
Ivan Semyan, Head of the SUSU Laboratory of Experimental Archaeology, stated, “In our opinion, the Sintashta bow is a compound longbow with several specialized parts to enhance mechanics and expand functionality.
Tests and simulations revealed that effective shooting with large Sintashta arrows required a bow tension of more than 28 kilograms, compared to just 25 kilograms for a modern Olympic bow used by men. Our experiment resulted in a 187 cm long bow with a tension of 29.03 kg. It can be used for target shooting at a distance of approximately 80 meters.”
Archaeologists consider these compound bows to be the most powerful and accurate long-range weapons of antiquity. The reconstruction of this technology supports the assertion that they were challenging to manufacture and necessitated specialized labor. Wooden and horn components of the bow were likely crafted by different artisans.
The original bow components discovered by archaeologists displayed exceptional craftsmanship, exhibiting high-quality grinding and polishing. The horn components, with their intricate shapes, required extensive hours of drilling, sawing, cutting, and grinding using bronze tools, as explained by the scientists. Additionally, the creation of a quiver set would have required at least three specialists: a caster, a flint-splitter, and a bone carver.
Ivan Semyan emphasized, “It was crucial for us to strictly adhere to three principles: using authentic materials, employing authentic techniques, and not surpassing the technological capabilities of the ancient masters. Therefore, we utilized only four materials: wood, horn, bone glue, and sinew. In total, we tested four design variations, two from our colleagues and two of our own.”
The scientists noted that the results of the experimental shooting validated the high quality of the bow created by SUSU specialists. During the tests, the bow consistently demonstrated substantial mechanical power, enduring over 300 shots, while exhibiting no destructive vibrations in its structure.
The experts highlighted an intriguing detail discovered during the excavations: a hypothetical “arrow shelf” comprised of two slats. They concluded that the lower slat was used for shooting at distances less than 20 meters, while the upper slat was employed for targets at greater distances, requiring the arrow to be elevated.