Monday, May 5, 2014

A Palmela Broadhead and Hemp Braid (Portugal)

I was sitting on my couch pecking away on (Part 1) of the "Calculating the draw weight of a Beaker bow" series and then I saw this post by Antonio Valera the Portuguese Prehistoric Enclosures Blog:

"Hemp in Bela Vista 5 enclosure"

Palmela Points (Commons)

The earliest hemp in Western Europe is a braided thread looped over a copper Palmela arrowhead/javelin head which helped preserve the material.

Below is a recent paper by a group of Spanish researchers looking into the issue by constructing lances, javelins and arrows using various Palmela points.  The conclude that arrowheads equipped with Palmela heads were more than doable, especially given the exceedingly low bow weight used for the experiment.

Puntas de palmela: procesos tecnológicos y experimentación (Gutierrez-Saez et al, 2010)

Gutierrez & co.'s reconstructed boradheads
The function of palmela points has generated a certain confusion, being interpreted as the tips of a lance, javelin and of an arrow or exclusively as elements of prestige. The aim of this work is to present the results
of experimentation on a prey with 36 palmela arrowheads of copper and low tin-bronze, in tests of distance and also of ballistics. It is a question of determining also the function from the archaeological contexts where these pieces appear. The results throw light on the possible utilization of these objects as effective weapon.
Test article javelin and lance (Gutierrez et al, 2010)
"The Beast" with a Palmela broadhead at only 35lbs.  (Gutierrez Saez, 2010)


  1. Did they use a dead animal or kill an animal just for the experiment? Ballistics gel would have been safer, more humane, more accurate to measure and not to mention cheaper...

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