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Евсеенков А.С.

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Bow (Lat. arcus) - a long-range weapon designed for long-range attacks, launching arrows at opponents . To shoot, the archer pulls the bowstring, thereby storing energy in the bent arc of the bow, then releases the bowstring, and the arc, quickly unbending, converts the stored potential energy into the kinetic energy of a fast-flying arrow. In ancient Rome, fighters using the bow as their main weapon were called sagittarii.

The range of the arrow depends on the design of the bow, the tension of the string and the weather. On average, the range is up to 200 meters for a non-combat arrow (with a humanizer). With live arrows, the maximum accuracy and range is naturally greater, but at such long distances, it is almost impossible to conduct targeted fire on single targets, and most likely sagittarii fired at group targets with volley fire.

Bows are divided into simple and composite, but all of them are an arc with a bowstring for throwing arrows. Simple bows were made from a single piece of wood of the most suitable tree species up to 1.5 m long. Composite (or composite) bows were shorter, made from different materials: horns (inner part), wood (middle part) and glued animal tendons (outer side). Thanks to this, when reducing the length of the bow itself, the necessary flexibility, elasticity and power are achieved. Also, such bows were usually recursive to increase power.

Of particular importance in addition to the base in the bow was the bowstring. Bowstring — an elastic cord made of vegetable and animal fibers, used to bend the bow shaft. The bowstring connects the two ends of the shaft and serves to launch the arrow. It is desirable that the bowstring weighs as little as possible, resists friction and moisture.

In the period of antiquity, bows remained the main type of remote weapon and underwent a number of significant improvements. In particular, instead of light arrows with a stone and bone tip, heavy arrows with a metal tip were used, and the design of the bow itself became more complicated than the increased power of shots was achieved.

In ancient Rome, the bow was used mainly by auxiliary troops (auxilia) and hunters. Perhaps the spread of the bow in the Roman army was influenced by the wars with the Parthian Kingdom. Judging by the pictorial sources, they used small recursive composite bows. The legionnaires themselves knew how to shoot them, but they did not use them in battle.

Stele of Gaius Julius Andromache. Dugopolje, Croatia. 40-80 AD
Fragment from Trajan's column. Early 2nd century AD
Fragment of a bas-relief with an archer from cohors I Hamiorum. Found in Housesteads, Hadrian's Wall, UK. First half of the 2nd century AD

Other peoples in antiquity also used bows, and not only composite ones. It is assumed that, for example, the Celts and Germans used ordinary longbows for hunting, but they did not use them for warriors - this was considered a weapon of a coward, not a warrior. At the same time, for example, in Greece, bows were also used, and already for waging war as part of the regular army.

The compound bow translated the tension energy into the kinetic energy of the arrow with the greatest efficiency, even without weights, giving the projectile, with an equal tension with a wooden bow, about 30% more energy. Having significantly superior strength and equal length with the yew bow, the compound bow was very reliable in operation. Its service life was estimated at decades, and it could be transported in a combat-ready state, which seemed to the soldiers to be a highly valuable quality. Of course, during long-term storage, the bowstring was removed, since this still reduces the time of effective operation of the bow.

It was composite bows that were used by most peoples of Asia and Ancient Europe (starting with the Cretans). In Europe, since the 4th century, such bows were most successfully used in the conquests of steppe nomadic peoples - Huns, Avars, Bulgarians and Khazars.

Bone linings from Bar Hill Fort. Material from the deer horn of 142-180 AD.
Bone overlays on the bow from the Thresholds. 1, 2-median; 3-5-terminal. Second half of the 1st century


Even a" simple " wooden bow was by no means a simple bent stick with a rope stretched over it. The bow was cut from yew, ash or acacia in such a way that it consisted of two layers of wood with different mechanical properties. Sometimes trees were specially grown for this purpose, preparing from the very landing to become the basis of onions. After it was cut down, the preparation for onions was kept in special conditions for several months. The yew bow did not last long-in a tense state, the tree quickly lost its elasticity and deformed, so that the string on the wooden bow was pulled only before the battle.

A compound bow was called a composite bow if it was glued together from several types of wood or if the wooden base was reinforced with horn plates, that is, its base consisted of several parts. The main advantage of such a device was the simplicity of manufacturing - there was no need for such careful preparation of wood before the production of onions. The reinforced bow withstood more tension and served longer.

It was also practiced to make a bow from several separate blanks of different lengths, like a modern plate spring. Strength and elasticity were achieved by compressing these individual parts. For compression, the feature of drying rawhide or steamed wood was used.

Related topics

Sagittarius, Sagittarius-Gladiator, The Quiver, Arrows


The composite bow - Mike Loades.pdf

Armament of the nomads of Gorny Altai of the Xiongnu period Khudyakov Yu S pdf

Arrows of Ancient and Medieval Cultures of Eurasia-Kishchenko In pdf


A golden vessel with images of Scythians. Kurgan Kul-Oba. Crimea, Kerch Peninsula. Inv. CO.No.-11. Displayed in the Golden Storeroom of the Hermitage. Second half of the 4th century BC
Tombstone monument. Monimus, a soldier from Cohors I Ituraeorum who served for 16 years and died in 50. 1st century AD
The Gallic archer. Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. 1-2 century AD
Fragment from a Raised Propylon block. Early 1st century.
Parthian horse archer. State Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin, Germany. 1-3 century AD
A fragment of the tombstone of Daknas, a soldier of the Second Kirrestarum Cohort based in Burnum, Dalmatia. Croatia. Mid-1st century AD
Bas-relief of a male archer, Parthian. Found in: Asia, Middle East, Levant, Syria. Stored at: British Museum, London, England. 1-3 century AD