The world’s oldest spears, the Schöningen javelins

One of the Schöningen spears (Image: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution)

The image on the right is of an amazing artefact that was found in Germany during the 1990s. Dating to approximately 300,000 BC it shows the world’s oldest wooden spear. It was discovered in a deep opencast mine at Schöningen, Germany during an archaeological excavation carried out by Dr. Hartmut Thieme.

In total eight of these Palaeolithic spears were recovered during the excavation, along with the bones of at least 15 horses and a large number of stone tools. Many of the horse bones had evidence for butchery marks suggesting that the remains of a very ancient hunting site had been uncovered.

The spears were fashioned out of spruce wood (with one exception made from pine) and measured between 1.82m to 2.50m long by between 3 and 5cm in diameter. They were carefully carved from tip to base so that the weight and tapered point was towards the front of the spear making it fly straighter, similar to the design of a modern javelin. This indicates that they were probably used as projectile weapons rather than for stabbing and thrusting.

 

 

 

 

 

References

Kouwenhoven, A.P.  ‘World’s Oldest Spears’ in Archaeology Magazine, Volume 50 Number 3, May/June 1997

Schöninger Speere

The Smithsonian: World’s Oldest Wooden Spear

The Oldest Wooden Spears (circa 400,000 BCE)

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

advert

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

16th century Irish Hipsters

I recently spotted what appeared to be remarkably modern looking haircuts in Albrecht Druer’s woodcut of 1521 AD[i]. This image […]

Through the millennia: Irish Archaeology in photos

Here is another selection of  amazing images from our Photography Competition, this time spanning the entire breadth of Irish archaeology. Don’t […]

A Mesolithic cemetery: Ireland’s oldest burials

  On a bend of the River Shannon, Ireland’s largest watercourse, a small band of hunter-gathers came to together nearly […]

Images of Newgrange through the ages

The Neolithic  passage tomb at Newgrange is the most visited archaeological site in Ireland. Over 5000 years old it pre-dates the first phase of […]

The Broighter hoard

The remarkable Broighter hoard, arguably the finest treasure trove of the Irish Iron Age, was discovered on a February evening […]

The Oseberg Viking ship burial

  In 1904 a remarkable archaeological site was uncovered at Oseberg, Norway. It consisted of an astonishingly well-preserved Viking ship […]