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Is there evidence that early civilizations across the world discovered archery independently from one another (like Native Americans, Europeans and Africans)? Or can the technology be traced back to a certain time period/region before humans spread out from Africa?

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As an aside, I've always wondered why the alt-atl fell out of favor with skirmishers, like the Roman hastati, who could have used the extra oomph when launching pilum at the enemy. It was common in the neolithic as a hunting tool, and then just disappeared completely before civilization showed up. –  RI Swamp Yankee Jun 28 '12 at 3:36
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@RISwampYankee: Why not ask a question on a site that focuses on answering historical questions?... ^_~ –  Sardathrion Jun 28 '12 at 7:40
    
I am not finding scholarly papers that discuss bow versus woomera cultures in a comparative light. I would suggest interrogating your early historical sources for the extent to which reported cultures seriously used bows in warfare—you may be over-estimating the use of a technology. Sources I read put atl-atls as paleolithic whereas bows are attested in the mesolithic. –  Samuel Russell Jun 28 '12 at 8:14
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It appears they were both in use in the Americas at the time of European contact, so there ought to be info on that from studies of indigenous Americans. –  T.E.D. Jun 28 '12 at 13:22

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up vote 18 down vote accepted

According to wikipedia, the earliest evidence of archery equipment unearthed (from a Danish Bog) was dated about 9000-10000 BCE. Before that, it appears that spear-throwers were generally used for the same purpose.

Considering that the only societies known to be out of touch with the rest humanity after that period were those in Australia, and they are also the only large areas that entirely kept to spear-throwers, you could make an argument that bows were only invented once, and everyone else just saw someone else doing it. I doubt we'll be able to say for sure without more archeological work.

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