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Desert Diary
Archaeology/Bow Type


The bow and arrow were pretty much staple equipment for Native Americans when the Europeans entered the continent. But we really should be talking of bows and arrows—plural—instead of the bow and arrow. As with most technologies, there was a wide variety of types designed for specific purposes. And contrary to our 21st-century prejudice, the technology was not simple, and geographic variation in design common. Bows varied from consisting of a single piece of wood to wood backed with sinew to those constructed of wood, sinew, and horn—or other materials. Size and construction varied according to purpose. A bow constructed for use on horseback ideally was shorter than those on foot; forest hunting, where hunter and prey were at close quarters, required bows different from those used in open grasslands or desert, where greater distances were involved.

Our dry, Chihuahuan Desert caves have given up bits and pieces of bows and arrows, but we can only guess at the variety used through the 1500 or so years since bows and arrows entered our region. pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.



Web Resources

American Indian Archery Technology

Composite bow (Wikipedia)