Europe’s oldest complete Neolithic bow, dating from 5400-5200 BCE, has been discovered at the La Draga site, near the lake of Banyoles, Spain.
The complete bow as it was discovered.
It is also unique in that it is one of the earliest intact weapons found, which will permit a study to made of aspects of the technology, survival strategies and social organisation of the first farming communities which settled in the Iberian Peninsula.
The bow is 108 cm long and presents a plano-convex section. It is made out of yew wood (Taxus baccata).
Previously, fragments of two bows were found (in 2002 and 2005) also from the same time period, but since they were in such a poor condition that it was impossible to analyse their characteristics.
Remains have been found of bows in Northern Europe (Denmark, Russia) dating from between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE among hunter-gatherer groups, although these groups were from the Paleolithic period, and not the Neolithic.
The majority of bows from the Neolithic period in Europe can be found in central and northern Europe.
Some fragments of these Neolithic bows from central Europe date from the end of the 6th millennium BCE, between 5200-5000 BCE, although generally they are from later periods, often more than a thousand years younger than La Draga.
For this reason archaeologists can affirm that the three bows found at La Draga are the most ancient bows in Europe from the Neolithic period.