I love it. How such ancient people, especially non-homo sapiens, lived is pretty fascinating stuff to me. Most of human history by far is actually prehistoric, the stuff of archaeological study, and it's fun to think about just how such ancient populations lived. Here, they're attempting to understand the weapons and tactics used by Neanderthals over 100,000 years ago. https://arstechnica.com/science/201...h-spears-demonstrate-how-neanderthals-hunted/ A team of archaeologists analyzed injuries to the skeletons of two deer and then attacked dear pelvises with sensor-equipped wooden spears to replicate the wounds. The result is a rare insight into how Neanderthal hunters made a living: thrusting short wooden spears at their prey, probably in well-coordinated group ambushes. How did Neanderthals hunt? Animal bones at several Neanderthal sites bear the telltale marks of butchery, but there’s little evidence of how, exactly, Neanderthals brought down their prey. “We have hardly any evidence for weaponry before 40,000 years ago. The only obvious evidence so far—and even here not all archaeologists agree—are wooden spears or lances known from three sites only. Considering that hominins probably started hunting as early as 1.8 Mio years ago, evidence is meager,” Johannes Gutenberg–University Mainz archaeologist Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser told Ars Technica. Archaeologists found the pointed tip of a 400,000-year-old wooden staff at a site in Clacton, England, once inhabited by Neanderthals’ earlier relatives, Homo heidelbergensis, and several sharpened wooden sticks turned up at a 300,000-year-old site in Schöningen, Germany. But archaeologists aren’t sure exactly how Neanderthals and H. heidelbergensis would have used their early weapons or how their approach would have compared to early Homo sapiens tactics. Some modern hunter-gatherers still wield very similar wooden spears, which they either thrust or throw at their prey, depending on the terrain and the situation. Archaeologists are fairly sure that’s what early H. sapiens were doing, too. Understanding more about how Neanderthals hunted—not just the weapons they used, but their techniques and tactics—could help us better understand how competition for food and territory played out when humans and Neanderthals met. “If Neanderthals were using both thrusting and throwing spears, the differences between their hunting tactics may not have been as great as if Neanderthals were only hunting using contact weapons,” University College London archaeologist Annemieke Milks told Ars. “Exactly how the weapons of Neanderthals and contemporaneous Homo sapiens compare is a lively area of research.” Wood doesn’t tend to preserve well, so we have precious few examples of wooden tools and weapons from earlier than 100,000 years ago. They certainly don't provide the kind of prehistoric “smoking gun” that stone and bone projectile points sometimes provide, with a point still lodged between the ribs of a long-dead animal. So far, archaeologists don’t even have many good examples of animal skeletons with spear-inflicted damage, which would let them reconstruct the angle and force of the blow and the shape of the weapon that dealt it. In fact, some archaeologists still debate whether those pointed sticks were used for hunting or just driving other scavengers away from potentially tasty carcasses. Pleistocene CSI At the Neumark-Nord site in Germany, Neanderthals 120,000 years ago hunted along the shores of a lake surrounded by dense forest. It's a tough environment to make a living in, even for modern hunter-gatherers. Here, archaeologists found two textbook examples of hunting-spear trauma. A fallow deer vertebra bore a circular wound from what Gaudzinski-Windheuser and her colleagues described as “a well-placed lethal injury” to the deer’s neck, not far from the trachea—probably from a spear thrust. ... plenty more at the link.