Abstract of the study, COMPOSITE BOWS IN AEGEAN BRONZE AGE WARFARE, by Spyros Bakas, Archaeological Institute of the University of Warsaw

by Spyros Bakas, Archaeological Institute of the University of Warsaw:

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Composite bows in Aegean Bronze Age warfare

Archery played a dominant role in Bronze Age, especially in later period. The technological evolution to the composites was a significant factor that affected the Warfare in several ways. The composite was introduced into Egypt by the Hyksos in the 18th century BCE. However we do not have any archaeological examples from the Aegean Bronze Age world. This brief study will try to approach the issue of the use of composite bows in the Minoan and Mycenaean Warfare attempting to include all the possible archaeological iconographical and textual evidence that could support this argument. There is a large number of smiths in Pylos tablets. These are aligned with the bureaucratic and centralized structure of the Mycenaean palatial centers. The word to-ko-so-wo-ko, which appears five times in the tablets, refers to the profession of the “bow-maker”. Based on the evidence from the Pylos “chariot –tablets”, we do know that this Palatial centre could field hundreds of chariots while also there is a record that there are 6010 arrows stored in this particular place. It seems more likely that the Palatial centers would need those “bow makers” mostly for military purposes rather than just for hunting. Therefore, the construction of composite bows – as weapons of the Mycenaean aristocrats – seems to be the most possible occupation of those craftsmen. Mycenaean bronze scaled corselets would have been constructed for and against the composite bows. 

Bronze Age cultures valued the composite bow as a highly advanced and efficient weapon, offering solutions to both mobility and firepower in conflict. It is certain that the composite bow wasn’t commonplace in Minoan and Mycenaean world. It was a prestige item with high cost owned by the elite warriors and aristocrats. The weapon was in use by the Minoans probably from the early Neopalatial period and continued to play a dominant role in Aegean battlefields till the 13 century BC following the decline of chariot archery.

This study will be published in the upcoming Volume IV of  the Archaeological Journal, Syndesmoi, University of Catania, Italy

NOTE: We have also provided a direct link to this fascinating study by Spyros Bakas here at LBK&M and on our twitter page. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for our link to his study, and you can also see the link posted on our twitter account here:

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