LUKYASHKO S.I. Small Arms of the Scythians. On the Time of Sigmoid Bow Appearance in Eastern Europe

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2015.5.4

Sergey Ivanovich Lukyashko

Doctor of Sciences (History),

Head of Archaeological Laboratory,

Southern Scientific Center of RAS

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Prosp. Chekhova, 41, 100, 344006 Rostov-on-don, Russian Federation


Abstract. Horse archers well-known in the ancient world used composite sigmoid bows for shooting (archery), the specific constructive features of which have been studied by the researchers. This type of a bow was convergently formed in Eastern China in the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C. and in the North Caucasus in the middle of the 4th millennium B.C. It gets transferred to the Northern Black Sea Region by the Scythians in the late 7th - early 6th centuries B.C. that resulted in the dramatic transformation of arrowheads’ types. The Greeks became aware of this weapon in the last third of the 6th century B.C.

Bows can be divided into simple and complex ones. The simple bows are made from one solid bar, while the complex bows are made of several layers of different wood species. Composite bows are constructed from a few consequently connected bars. These types also include a reinforced bow – the bow springing qualities of which are reinforced by bone or tendon plates. Since the ancient masters combined different production methods, the definition of a composite reinforced bow can be found in the literature. European small arms development was focused on improving a simple bow. The strength of such bow was achieved by its size. However, massive bows are unsuitable for firing from a horse. Therefore, in cultures associated with the development of riding the search of methods of bow strength increase at the condition of reducing its size, was going on. In Asia, the focus was made on the material rather than shoulders design. As a result, complex composite bows appear in the East, which were made from several pieces of wood, connected with the central part of the handle at an angle. After the appearance of the Scythians in the middle East the angular design of bows was replaced by a sigmoid shape (scythicus acrus).

Key words: scythians, bow, arrows, construction, sigmoid bow, chronology.

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Small Arms of the Scythians. On the Time of Sigmoid Bow Appearance in Eastern Europe by Lukyashko S.I. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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