The Tybrind Vig bow


Tybrind vig, a cove at West Funen between Assens and Middelfart (Danish town name, we apologise), has kept secrets of great cultural value since the Erteboelle period 6000 years ago. At 2-3 meters depth the environmental conditions have preserved organic material to an exceptional degree. Among the preserved wooden objects such as fragments of paddles and fishing spears are also one complete and a part of a bow. The Tybrind vig bows are made to a special shape. The complete specimen has been cut from a young elm wood stem, approximately 30 millimetres in cross section at the handle - de-barked. The bow is 1665 millimetres long and hence as long as a man was tall, when it was made.
The bow is ingeniously shaped in its simplicity. The bowyor has left 2 inches untouched at the middle and has from there made an in principal flat cut-away running in a curve from the belly towards the back, then getting flatter and gradually reducing the cross section towards the ends, thus obtaining a shape that distributes the forces perfectly along the bow limbs. Towards the ends the limbs get narrower and are finished with the shape of a drop in one end and likewise in the other but combined with a base the shape of an oval. The purpose of this we may only guess about, but the shape of the ends being asymmetrical a fair bid would be a difference in the attachment of the string. One end of the string might have been permanently fastened while the other - having a loop - could be detached but sustained by a piece of string attached to the bow end (very much like a modern English longbow). At any rate the shape of this bow indicates that our ancestors were quite cunning in their technology.


The author's reconstructions of this bow have proved that it is easily build and easy to shoot. The replica shown below has a draw weight of 72 pounds at 28 inches draw. In spite of this it is not a fast bow. In average it sent a 494 grains arrow through the chronometer with a speed of 132 ft per sec. However one can rest assured that this would have covered the needs of the stone age hunter.

It needs to be added that the bow seems to be constructed to be drawn to a full arm's length or more. One would expect the shooting style to go along with it to be very powerful and there is no doubt in the author's mind, he himself being a modern bowhunter, that the hunters from Tybrind vig 6000 years ago trusted this weapon to send it's projectile clean through their prey.

It seems unlikely that these hunters have used poison. There has been no need for it and - according to some primitive South American Indian tribes - it is a risk you would prefer to avoid when possible.













Literature:
"A Preliminary Report on a Submerged Erteboelle Settlement on the West Coast of Fyn" by Soeren H. Andersen, Journal of Danish Archaeology, vol. 4, 1985.
The authors own photos and dimensional sketches.