A new study suggests South Asian people hunted with bows and arrows more than 48,000 years ago. A team of archaeologists discovered small bone artifacts with sharp tips in a Sri Lankan cave. The artifacts represent the earliest evidence of bow-and-arrow use outside of Africa.
Michelle Langley of Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia reported the findings. She claims 130 of the bone joints show evidence of surface impacts, according to ScienceNews. The damage was likely caused by high-speed impact from being used as arrowheads.
Microscopic analysis also revealed notches and wear at the bottom of the thin shafts. Langley’s team concludes that the finds in the Fa-Hien Lena cave date from 34,000 to 48,000 years old.
At the Sri Lankan location, hunters likely used bows and arrows for smaller animals such as monkeys or squirrels. Supporting their theory, Langley’s team discovered the remains of these creatures in the same sediment as the artifacts.
Oldest Evidence of Bow-and-Arrow Use
Evidence suggests that people in Africa hunted with bow-and-arrow more than 60,000 years ago. Marlize Lombard, an archaeologist at the University of Johannesburg, addresses the topic. “I would not be surprised to see [bow-and-arrow] hunting associated with any Homo sapiens group after about 65,000 years ago, regardless of location,” Lombard said.
In regards to the Sri Lankan artifacts, Lombard is reserving his judgment. He believes High-resolution CT scans may provide more conclusive evidence. A team including Lombard used this technique to the age of a bone point more than 60,000 years old. The team reported the findings on May 15 in Quaternary Science Reviews.
Ryan Rabett, Archaeologist of Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, isn’t 100% confident the Sri Lankan finds are evidence of bow-and-arrow hunting. He calls the new study “suggestive but not definitive.” Rabett claims it’s possible the artifacts were used as spearheads. He points to the evidence that there were fish remains also found in the cave.
The Sri Lankan forests are also not ideal for bow-and-arrow hunting. Rabett claims that losing arrows while hunting in the dense wilderness would have presented a humber of issues.
In addition to the arrowhead type artifacts, Langley’s team made several other discoveries in the Fa-Hien Cave. The team also found clothes, nets, shell beads.