The Archery Library
Old Archery Books, Articles and Prints
Home > Articles > The Journal of the Antropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland > On the Structure and Affinities of the Composite Bow > Part 17
On the Structure and Affinities of the Composite Bow
Part 17 of 17

We know that the Persians owe this weapon to the Scythians, as Herodotus tells us that Cyaxares, King of the Medes, and great grandfather of Cyrus, among other important military reforms, adopted the bow as a military weapon, having learnt the use of it during his wars with the Massagetae, Scythians, and other races. He even kept certain Scythian archers to teach his son Astyages to shoot. Cyaxares died B.C. 594, but the bow remained in use and became a national weapon, and a figure of it a national emblem. Persian bows remained celebrated to the eighteenth century.

It is not easy to represent the probable affinities of the different existing varieties of the composite bow in the form of a genealogical tree, but I give here a rough scheme, which seems to me to illustrate broadly the lines of connection of the leading modern types.


I have aimed in my paper at giving an account of the comparative anatomy of the composite bow, in order to illustrate the structure and affinities of the chief varieties. I regret that I have had so little material at my command, as the dissection of a larger number of varieties would no doubt contribute largely towards establishing the lines of connection between the types and their modes of derivation from earlier forms. Without the assistance of a "geological record" and "embryological" evidence, which so materially assist the animal and vegetable morphologist, in tracing the history of such an object as the composite bow, the anthropological comparative anatomist is obliged to be content with observations made upon the "recent" and "adult" weapon, and thus the number of his clues is considerably limited.