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Additional Notes on Arrow Release
Part 7 of 21

In studying the remarkable collection of Danish antiquities in the Museum of Northern Antiquities, at Copenhagen, we found an exhaustive collection of objects from the peat bogs of Denmark. So abundant are these remains that STEENSTRUP estimated that every column of peat, three feet square at the surface, would yield some evidence of human workmanship. In the collection were a number of long bows, round in section, with a slight notch at either end. These bows with their arrows were mounted on tablets and were believed to be about 2000 years old. The arrows were of special interest, they were rather thick and clumsily made but the constriction of the shaft before reaching the nock end was very noticeable. Of great interest to me was the fact that every arrow was distinctly knobbed and enlarged at the nock end, (Fig. 11) showing that these ancient people had not acquired the Mediterranean release which would have been difficult with this form of arrow. They were using the primary release of their savage ancestors. MR. VILHELM BOYE, an officer of the Museum, told me that the arrows had only two barbs. No trace of the barbs were seen, though a close examination with the poor light at the time showed that the nock end of the arrow had been wound with a fibre of some kind.

At the Kiel Museum there was a fine collection of peat bog relics from Schleswig. Here also I was permitted to make sketches of arrows, all of which showed the same enlargement of the nock end, though quite different in shape from the Danish forms, indicating the same method of release, namely, the primary. (Fig 12.) Their age dated from 217 A. D., as determined by coins associated with them.

In Figure 13, I give rough tracings of the nock ends of the arrows of various tribes of North American Indians, all showing enlargement of the nock ends of the arrows, indicating the use of the primary release. In some cases the knobbed arrow might indicate the use of the secondary release but in that release with the use of two extra fingers in pulling the bow the enlargement of the arrow was not so necessary.

Figure 14 illustrates in a marked degree the use of the primary release. It represents an arrow used by the Thlingit tribe of Alaska. It was collected by LIEUT. G. T. EMMONS, U. S. A. and is in the collection of the U. S. National Museum. It is interesting as showing that these people in close proximity to the Eskimo who used the Mediterranean release had never acquired the more powerful form but retained the primary form. A parallel case is shown by the Ainu method of drawing the bow. Though associated with the Japanese for nearly 2000 years they had never acquired the more effective Mongolian release but adhered to the primary form.