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Bronze Age Battlefield Video

So Lindeybeige just uploaded a video about a possible Bronze Age Battlefield that has been uploaded.

Aside from being quite interesting for anyone interested in the subject, and possibly of interest for a future expansion it’s got me thinking: I am unaware of any archaeological sites that are currently interpreted as Neolithic battle-sites. This isn’t entirely unexpected, as has been covered in other threads Neolithic warefare probably very very very rarely resulted in anything we’d recognise as a “battle” due to the way we think warfare occurred in those times. But I’ve started wondering: Do we actually have any finds of “military” equipment from the Neolithic either Photographic or actual finds?

Almost everything I’m aware of in this field comes (at the earliest) out of the Bronze Age. Although for some things (eg Boars Tusk Helmets as found in Mycenaean sites, or even something as basic as a shield) we can say “well they could have made something like this.” I’m hoping someone can provide evidence of actual usage.

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Axes, adzes, bows, spears… all that can be also a very effective weapon.
Battlefields remains usually require big battles, but big battles is something I can’t imagine in Neolithic times, mostly raids where the less prepared people just run away.

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I can give you a little bit of information about wounds based on the information I got back from the doctor I hired to answer my Neolithic wounds prognosis questions LOL They very specifically involve what would happen in a raid but they’re limited to only the specific case examples I gave.

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Quite true @Uncasual although… would you run away if running away meant starving to death in the hills? Especially in difficult times with food shortages and migrations. A settled farmer might not have the skills to survive as a hunter gatherer. Interesting question. My question more is we know some form of warfare happened in the Neolithic, even if it was just raiding rather than the grand scale wars of the Classical Period or even of the Bronze Age. Just wondering if there are any specific finds of that anyone can point to? I can certainly imagine what they might have looked like, and what they might have carried, but without finds it’s all just speculation at the end of the day.

Also spears are probably the most effective weapon in the history of warfare, certainly they’ve been more important to the vast majority of armies than swords have been (of course in the Neolithic they would have been stone tipped but still).

Besides their immediate lethality, spear wounds produce holes which are too wide to easily heal and require months too close, assuming infection doesn’t kill you first. Another major problem are arrows which are extremely debilitating even if they’re not overtly lethal on the first strike.

Do you mind if I ask how you got to the conclusions about what the wounds would be? But yeah the prognosis would be really interesting reading! (sorry about the double post, What is our etiquette on double posting here?)

I don’t have any information on the likelihood of any particular type of wound, but I submitted a series of possible wounds to a doctor I hired to provide me and medical prognosis for somebody with such wounds. Provided them a description of what techniques might exist to treat the wounds, quite frankly just about nothing, and the time period in which they were set. So the data I have is really based on individual circumstances.

In short, I wanted to be able to accurately describe the result of an arrow spear and other wounds correctly.

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While I think the internet is a poor substitute for actual published books, I’m going to keep doing a bit of googling on Neolithic warfare to see what I can find, but for now this might be of interest:



I mean not quite what I was looking for, but maybe of generic interest?

@lotus253 fair play. Personally I’m more interested in the kind of arrow or spear that might have been used and what protective measures would have been taken.

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I would run away if the alternative is a clear death. That people were farmers, but I would say they were minor hunters too.
If I were an experienced archer, I would rather prefer a bow in a time were people had no battle armour and shot from the distance to those who carry spears:

In Neolithic paintings from east Spain you can see also several scenes of violence, including executions and others that seems to depict small battles, where bows seems to be the main weapon:


Interesting articles on the subject:

For me, it’s all about writing a good (and accurate as possible) story lol sometimes you have to wing it a bit in the fiction world lol

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Ooohhhh! Do you happen to know the name of the site the pictographs come from?
Okay so maybe I have a slightly different perspective on battle than most people (it’s my job after all) but, I figure there must have been times when battle was the less certain death. Middle of climate change, you live in a large village, people come to take your food, winter is on the doorstep. 10 people show up demanding the 10 people in your village give up all their stuff? I don’t know. I think people might band together and try to protect their stuff rather than run. Depends on the odds. But yes, it is psychologically much easier to shoot someone than to stab them, I think your average person would definitely prefer a bow over a knife and spear.

Ah and there we get to the crux, one of the things I really want to know: was there really no armour? You can actually make a relatively arrow proof form of armour with linnen and hay (well any sort of padding but hay is what I imagine is probably most likely to be around in the neolithic). Shields are just wood, or hide, could easily exist, but that’s just it could isn’t good enough is it? We can say “they could have done this” all day long but without evidence it means nothing.

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Keep in mind that if your armor isn’t good enough to deflect or block and arrow, it’s better to not have armor in the case of arrows. If you’re wearing simple fabric or leather and an arrow penetrates, it might easily pull some of that fabric into the wound causing an infection. Plain skin will be less susceptible to infection, especially if you’re wearing battle paints made from herbs, which can sometimes be antibiotic.

I will find the document that I read from a US Army surgeon depicting Arrow wounds from the Army’s battles with the indigenous people (a bad thing, for sure). He details exactly what the result of battles with people armed with bows results in. If I recall, almost every victim has many Arrow wounds and they were considered extremely painful compared to other wounds. I’ll post it if I can find the link.

Regarding fights and battles you have to think about how those men were thinking back in that time.

What do they have? Mostly agricultural tools, certainly clubs and spears but the most important weapon of all was the bow.

When you confront a group of enemies that is waiting for you, what is preferrable? To fight them face to face, risking to die, or to shoot them from distance with your bow? The latter is the best option, when the enemies flee you take your club or your spear to finish off the wounded ones, that’s the best approach to avoid unneccessary casualties on your rank.

Oetzi, the neolithic alpine man, was killed by an arrow, they didn’t chased him to kill him with a spear or an axe, they shoot him from behind his back :wink:

Organized armies were the product of more advanced societies, like those of bronze age era, where peoples were divided in classes and thanks to the advanced business and food production that societies were able to sustain an extensive military caste; is in this era that we see the development of infantry organized in ranks due to the extensive use of shields and the introduction of new killing tools like swords and daggers.

Let’s not forget that the second main weapon of the bronze age armies was, again, the bow; the rank infantry was sent in after the archers have done their work of crippling the enemy resistance, the bow was so important in human warfare that it was abandoned as an effective weapon in the middle of the XVI century, quite a long service for a piece of wood and horn :wink:

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Completely unrelated to finding actual evidence, but I would suggest looking at the work Ubisoft put into Far Cry Primal. Ignoring the glaring inaccuracies and silly animal powers, it would seem to me that raids on villages in that game would be fairly similar to raids in the actual paleo/neolithic.

I do keep that in mind which is why I’m kind of thinking of a gambeson, which in medival times where fairly arrow proof (a Gambeson is nothing more than 2 layers of linen with a lot of stuff [typically layers of wool, but pretty much anything that could be used as padding was used] stuffed in between and then sewed up. Since Neolithic bows and arrows aren’t up to the same standards as medieval ones in all probability I imagine a less developed Neolithic gambeson might be a good bet.
If you go down towards the bottom of this post you can see an experiment of how good Gambesons can actually be at stopping arrows. Alledgidely (I’ve heard this from multiple people who should know better than to spread misconceptions, yet never had someone be able to point me at the primary source) crusaders freaked out the saracens in the 1100’s because their gambesons absorbed most of the arrows shot at them.

@kelte very true, but what do their opponents have? Probably also agricultural tools, clubs and spears and most importantly of all, the bow. I’d wager that most Neolithic groups would fight each other (in the rare event of an armed confrontation) chiefly by chucking a lot of stuff at each other.

A military caste btw does not need to be sustained for an organised army to exist. For example the Greeks and the Republican Romans did not have a military caste (Sparta excepted), instead relying on a citizen-soldier army (farmers who’d drop their tools and pick up a sword if war was declared). But agreed, organised armies as we think of them probably did not exist in the Neolithic.

Maybe we should say the second main weapon of the bronze age middle eastern armies was the bow? Not surprising since the main weapon of the Iron and Classical age middle east was also the bow. I don’t think this seems to be as true for europe. Also I seem to recall bows where still being used in India during campaigns against the British during the Napoleonic wars. A very long service for a piece of wood and horn indeed :slight_smile:

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You are quite correct that a Neolithic bow can’t touch the draw weight and power of a medieval bow. My knowledge is more based in the early Neolithic than the medieval and I was unaware of such medieval Arrow protection. That’s actually quite interesting to hear about. \o/

Supposition: several pieces of boiled leather sandwich against one another and worn as a chest plate. I would suspect that would do a beautiful job against flint arrowheads. I specifically have a character in my second novel wear such a chest plate, which is regarded as magical for its ability to stop arrows LOL

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Too be fair I was really assuming it couldn’t touch the draw weight, but thinking about it logically, is there any reason why a neolithic bow couldn’t touch the draw weight of a medieval one? After all big warbows where made of a single piece of wood, so is it too much of a stretch to imagine a Neolithic tribe being able to manufacture one? I honestly don’t know. However with flint points there must be a upper limit to the power of a bow, since, please correct me if I’m wrong, you can not make a socketed arrowhead with flint. So if an arrow hits something with enough power (same with a spear) you run the risk of the shaft splitting into pieces and a whole lot of kinetic energy being wasted as the arrow breaks apart.

Leather armour is actually really interesting, but so hard to get a grip on (doesn’t help that the subject of medieval arms and armour is so hard to navigate with sooo much misinformation out there). We have very little evidence for the existence of it but it’s a really open question when you ask why. Is it because it was not used (and if it wasn’t then why wasn’t it? Was it because it wasn’t protective enough or is it because you could achieve the same or better protection more cheaply with a gambeson?) or was it used and we just can’t detect it? Iconography and Pictoral evidence can be hard to interpret, metallic and leather armour might be portrayed in a very similar manner. Leather degrades in the ground so a lot of potential finds will have rotted away. But given that we know that Llamellar and Buff coats both existed I imagine that in theory at least it should be possible to have a leather chest plate.

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If you take a look at this neolithic cave painting from Spain, you can see the approximate shape and dimensions of a neolithic bow. (something like 3-4 feet with a basic shape). Given this picture, one could guess that the draw weight would have to be considerably lower than any historical recurve or longbow of medieval times, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 70 lbs (maximum).

Also, if you notice that the deer in the middle has three arrows in it, then you can conclude that these bows were probably not strong enough to take down a deer in a single shot. However, someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

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The only good single piece bow I can think of are the longbow use in the british isles. It usage is very old (the oldest longbow ever found was in scotland and radiocarbon date give between 4040 BC and 3640 BC).

It is made with yew (Taxus baccata) which grew in Europe, Asian minor and North Africa. I am not an expert but I thing it is the only wood that can make good single piece bow due to different properties of the heartwood (always put inside of the bow) and the sapwood (on the outside).

During the 100 years war between England and France, the bristish had to import massive amount of yew from other countries (yew is toxic hence the english farmers usually cut it before it reach the proper size). If any other wood could do the job the english would have use it.

Composite bow was invented by Asian nomadic tribes (unfortumatly it concervation is not good so no proper evidence). The estimate date is 2100-1700 BC.

The longbow fit in the timescale and geographic area of the base game. Moreover the yew could be a strategic resource worth fighting/trading for (for hunting or war).

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that’s freaking cool!!! do you have any sources for those finds? If so, pass them onto the devs! I want some good bows if we can get them