How Long Ago Was Archery First Used For Hunting?

How Long Ago Was Archery First Used For Hunting?

Archery has been a part of human history for thousands of years and has been used for various purposes, including hunting.

The exact origin of archery as a hunting tool is not known, but it is believed to have been used for this purpose for a very long time.

In this article, we will explore the history of archery and try to determine when it was first used for hunting purposes.

We will also look at the evolution of archery equipment and techniques over time and how they have impacted the effectiveness of archery as a hunting tool.

Whether you are a seasoned archer or just starting out, this article will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the history of archery as a hunting tool.

Earliest Evidence of Archery For Hunting

The earliest evidence of archery for hunting dates back to the Late Paleolithic period, around 10,000-9,000 BCE.

Archaeological discoveries in the Holmegaard area of Denmark have revealed the remains of bows made from elm wood, known as the Holmegaard bows.

These bows were likely used for hunting purposes, as they were designed to shoot arrows with enough force to penetrate the thick hides of large game animals such as deer, aurochs, and wild boar.

Additionally, there are cave paintings from the same period that depict scenes of archers hunting animals, which can be found in various locations around the world, including France and Spain.

These paintings provide further evidence that archery was used as a hunting technique during the Late Paleolithic period.

Evolution of Archery Through Different Civilizations

Archery has evolved significantly throughout history, with different civilizations adapting and refining the technology to suit their specific needs. Here is a brief overview of the evolution of archery in various civilizations:

  1. Prehistoric period: The origins of archery can be traced back to the Late Paleolithic period (around 10,000-9,000 BCE), as mentioned earlier, with the discovery of the Holmegaard bows in Denmark.
  2. Ancient Egypt (3100 BCE – 332 BCE): Archery played a significant role in Egyptian culture, both in hunting and warfare. Bows from this period were primarily simple self-bows, but composite bows made from wood, horn, and sinew began to appear around 2000 BCE.
  3. Assyrians (2500 BCE – 612 BCE): The Assyrians were known for their skill in archery and were among the first to utilize the composite recurve bow. This design allowed for increased power and accuracy, making it a formidable weapon in their military campaigns.
  4. Ancient China (around 2000 BCE): Archery was an essential skill in ancient China, valued both for hunting and warfare. The Chinese made significant advancements in bow and arrow technology, including the development of the crossbow in the 5th century BCE.
  5. Ancient Greece (circa 800 BCE – 146 BCE): Archery was not as highly regarded in ancient Greece as it was in other civilizations. However, it was still practiced and used for hunting, as well as in a limited capacity in warfare. Bows were typically simple self-bows.
  6. Roman Empire (27 BCE – 476 CE): The Romans were not known for their prowess in archery, but they did employ archers in their military, often recruited from other cultures with a strong archery tradition, such as the Cretans and Syrians. The Romans used both simple self-bows and composite bows.
  7. Middle Ages (5th century – 15th century): During the Middle Ages, the longbow gained prominence, especially in England. The longbow was a powerful weapon capable of penetrating armor, and it played a significant role in several key battles, such as the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
  8. Islamic Golden Age (8th century – 14th century): Archery was highly valued in Islamic civilizations, and the composite recurve bow was a preferred weapon for both hunting and warfare. Horse archery was also a crucial skill for many Islamic warriors.
  9. Mongol Empire (1206 – 1368): The Mongols were highly skilled horse archers and used the composite recurve bow to devastating effect in their conquests. The speed and mobility of their horse archers, combined with their powerful bows, made them a formidable force on the battlefield.
  10. Japan (1185 – 1868): Japanese archery, known as kyudo, developed as a martial art and spiritual practice. The Japanese longbow, or yumi, is unique in its asymmetrical design, with a longer upper limb and shorter lower limb. Japanese archers were known for their skill and discipline.

Throughout history, archery has continued to evolve, and its role has shifted from a primary tool of warfare to a competitive sport and recreational activity. Today, modern archery encompasses a variety of styles and equipment, such as compound bows and Olympic-style recurve bows, reflecting its rich history and ongoing development.


In conclusion, the bow and arrow has a long and storied history, evolving through various civilizations and time periods.

From its earliest origins in the Late Paleolithic period to its use in warfare, hunting, and eventually as a sport, archery has continuously adapted to suit the needs of the people who practiced it.

Key developments in bow and arrow technology, such as the composite bow, recurve bow, crossbow, longbow, and modern compound and Olympic-style recurve bows, showcase the ongoing innovations in this ancient discipline.

Today, archery remains a popular sport and recreational activity worldwide, reflecting its rich history and continued appeal across cultures and generations.