Thousands of years ago, our distant ancestors existed thanks to the hunting of animals. At first they had to attack prey from close range but, about 48 thousand years ago, they invented archery. They used sharpened stones and bones as arrowheads - it was important that they enter the bodies of animals as deep as possible. As time went on, primitive people realized that arrowheads could be treated with poison from dangerous insects and plants. In this case, it was enough for the projectile to pierce the skin for the poisonous substances to enter the bloodstream of the prey and lead to its death. In the course of studying the remains of ancient arrows, scientists once found out that people began to treat arrows with poison about 24,000 years ago. However, this assumption turned out to be wrong - deadly shells were invented much earlier. This, at least, is evidenced by the results of a study conducted by African archaeologists.
The hunt of the ancient people
How many years ago people invented poison arrows, Science Alert told, citing the scientific journal Archaeological Science. The scientific work was carried out by archaeologist Marlize Lombard from the University of Johannesburg (South Africa). Within its framework, she studied the properties of 129 arrows with bone tips, which once could have long been treated with poisonous substances. It turned out that they were not as sharp as the tips of ordinary arrows. And all because it was enough for them to pierce the skin and let the poison into the bloodstream of the animals. After entering the circulatory system, the dangerous substances weakened the animal and they could be finished off with sticks. Sometimes the prey would die right away.
Arrowheads from different times
After identifying the distinctive features of the poisonous arrows, the researcher studied 306 Stone Age arrows. Six of them were found in the South African Blombos Cave, with three points having the least blunt points. It was suggested that it was they who were treated with substances taken from the glands of poisonous insects. According to Marlies Lombard, their shape and size would be ineffective when using poison. In the course of studying one of the arrows found at the mouth of the South African river Klasies, she discovered dark spots that could have been left by poisonous substances. Since this arrow was estimated to be 60,000 years old, she suggested that humans learned how to make poisonous projectiles at this time. That is, much earlier than other groups of scientists assumed.
It is important to note that poison arrows are still in use today. For example, they are used by indigenous African tribes like the Bushmen. Their number is about 100 thousand people, and their habitats are the territories of South Africa. They still practice hunting and, in most cases, men are armed with bows and arrows. They treat the tips of the projectiles with a poison called diamphotoxin, which paralyzes the nervous system of living organisms. And it is obtained from dried and ground larvae of beetles of the species Diamphidia. It is believed that one poisonous arrow can kill a whole giraffe.
Bushman's 150 Years Bow and Arrow
In addition to animal meat, representatives of these peoples feed on berries, plant seeds and leaves. Women also collect edible insect larvae and honeycombs. As you can see, the cuisine of these peoples is very peculiar and it is completely incomprehensible to us. It seems wild to us that they cook porridge from seeds that accumulate on the surface of anthills. They also consider fried locusts a real treat.Yes, for us this is wildness, but for them it is the norm. But their life cannot be called easy, because during the dry season they have to dig holes, stick pipes with a filter at one end into them and suck water straight from the ground, spitting it into an eggshell.
Poisonous beetle of the species Diamphidia