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Old 18th July 2019, 10:07 AM   #1
Evgeny_K
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Question Medieval bronze arrowheads

Colleagues,
Sometimes archaeologists and amateur metal detectorists find bronze arrowheads dating from the Middle Ages (at least, such finds occur in the western part of Russia). It is obvious that at that time bronze arrowheads hardly had a combat purpose. I heard that some specialists make assumptions about their ritual purpose.
What are your thoughts on this?
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Old 18th July 2019, 06:13 PM   #2
David R
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The ancient Greeks and Romans used bronze arrowheads as serious weapons, as opposed to ritual items. The supposition is that when you want a lot of arrowheads in a hurry, casting in bronze is the answer.
I would also point out that bronze arrowheads turn up in China and amongst the Steppe peoples at various dates. I would be interested in why you think your examples are Medieval rather than earlier.
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Old 18th July 2019, 06:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R
The ancient Greeks and Romans used bronze arrowheads as serious weapons, as opposed to ritual items. The supposition is that when you want a lot of arrowheads in a hurry, casting in bronze is the answer.
I would also point out that bronze arrowheads turn up in China and amongst the Steppe peoples at various dates. I would be interested in why you think your examples are Medieval rather than earlier.


This is not about bronze arrowheads per se, but about bronze arrowheads dating from the Middle Ages. The examples above can be attributed to the Middle Ages by their form factor (type) and by related archaeological material. As you know, at this time iron arrowheads were used. Hence arises my question.

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Old 19th July 2019, 02:33 AM   #4
Timo Nieminen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evgeny_K
It is obvious that at that time bronze arrowheads hardly had a combat purpose.


Why is this obvious? Unhardened iron arrowheads were used, and bronze can have similar hardness. Bone arrowheads were still in use.

More recently, in Africa, despite the availability of iron, wood, bone and horn arrowheads were still used (alongside iron arrowheads). Cheap can be a virtue, especially with arrowheads that might not be recovered.
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Old 19th July 2019, 07:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen
Why is this obvious? Unhardened iron arrowheads were used, and bronze can have similar hardness. Bone arrowheads were still in use.

More recently, in Africa, despite the availability of iron, wood, bone and horn arrowheads were still used (alongside iron arrowheads). Cheap can be a virtue, especially with arrowheads that might not be recovered.



Very interesting. Is there any evidence of bone arrowheads being used in European wars of the Middle Ages? Again, we are talking about a specific historical period (not about the applicability of bronze arrowheads per se). During this period, iron arrowheads were widely used in military and hunting.
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Old 19th July 2019, 09:01 AM   #6
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Presumably iron heads were used against armoured opponents for the penetrating capabilities. For hunting purposes and against unarmoured opponents other cheaper material iron heads may have been used? Perhaps bronze iron heads may have been preferred in very damp and humid highly corrosive environments such as at sea?
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Old 21st July 2019, 04:18 AM   #7
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Default the economic factor

Casting bronze arrowheads in gang-molds, as opposed to forging iron ones individually. does indeed have the advantage of production speed. And in times of emergency, bronze objects collected from the populace and from civil institutions could be quickly recycled into war matériel. History records ample instances where this was done, not only in Europe but in Eastern cultures as well, down to the 19th cent.

Looking at the issue of these arrowheads in light of other situations (i.e. not requiring use of confiscated materials), it might be interesting to compare the market value of iron vs bronze in the area and during the era in question. If the culture had the choice between making projectiles out of iron or bronze when the technology existed to go either way, there must have been a point at which the advantage in productivity trumped the cost differential for the materials.
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Old 21st July 2019, 06:12 PM   #8
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Maybe the guy, who made them had an easy source of azurite and malachite right in front of his door ? It is easy to mix these minerals with charcoal to a ball and surround them with clay. Putting them in a fire will produce copper-nuggets. These blue and green minerals are easily to identify and metal/iron was expensive. So maybe just a cheap source. For training arrows copper/bronze will be enough to shoot on hay targets. Till the 18 th century there was a law in england to train bowshooting minimum once in a week. So it was very common to have competitions on sunday. If these bronze-pieces were easy to produce for that guy....why not.

Just a different thought

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