Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Boar's Tusks & Bowmen

Pavla Ruzickova wrote a paper back in 2009 on "Bow Shaped Pendants" made of Boar's tusks
of the Central European Bell Beakers.  Her thesis paper brought together a couple of previous thoughts.

Before I begin, I should note that any sort of Boar's tusk ornament or trophy in a Beaker burial is not exceedingly common.  However, tusks or tusk ornaments are periodically represented in graves throughout the entire Beaker horizon and may represent a low frequency, but unifying element across Beaker cultures.  It's only in the Central Continent that they are carved in this way.

Bell Beaker Culture in Moravia (ppt), Matějíčková & Dvořák et al, 2014

Boar's Tusk Pendants, like the ones above, are sometimes found on Beaker bowmen in decreasing frequency from Bohemia, Moravia, Austria, Bavaria, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Baden and Brandenburg (Ruzickova, 2009).  They are also sometimes found in habitation assemblages. 

They were usually made of Boar's tusk, although finer, substitute materials were sometimes used in lieu.  I will trust most were discovered in an unambiguous, arched-down position.

Bow-Shaped Pendant 'nocks' (Ruzickova, 2009)

Fig. 18 modified (Ruzickova, 2009)
The ends of the ornament are usually nocked and this as interpreted by famed archeologist Stuart Piggott (1971) as imitating the nocks on a bow.  Some are nocked on both ends and some on one end. (and it is worth pointing out that some of these early bows, for example Otzi's, one end of the bow is nocked and the other end the string is tied in a timberjack knot)

"Beaker Bows" modified from Fig. 20 (Ruzickova,2009)

Upcoming on the Beaker Blog... 

Consider this an intermission on "Calculating the draw weight of a Beaker bow" series.

In part 2, I discuss how the arm bracers can inform us of how the bow was held.  From that, I deduced that there were three major bow classes used in those times.

I have several other non-metrics to cover in future posts, including (hopefully), osteological data that would seem to support compression and torsional injuries in the left forearm, lower humerus and clavicles of post-Neolithic archers, at least in the British Islands.

Tomorrow, I would like to discuss what Otzi's unfinished Italian yew longbow can tell us about Chalcolithic longbows and its development and impact on Late Neolithic societies in Europe, and a few other things...

Second and third pages to Beaker blog coming soon.

(1) "Bow-Shaped Pendants of the Bell Beaker Culture" (Ruzickova, 2009)


  1. The bow-shaped pendants are important for the detection of the power shift in Bell Beaker c. 2425 BC, as I pointed out in Ancestral Journeys, p. 166.

  2. Congratulations on your book and thanks for posting the archeogenetic tables on your site!

    Check out Jane's site on the blogroll. She's the artist who created the "Amesbury Archer". I believe her forthcoming
    children's book on Stonehenge will be her first.