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Der Bogen

The Bow

The Iceman carried a 1.82 m-long bow stave on his journey. When he arrived at the gully, he evidently leaned it against a rock, where it was found still upright thousands of years later.

The bow was hewn from the trunk of a yew tree. Clear traces of carving on the surface – expertly and carefully executed axe cuts – show that the bow was still unfinished. The stave still had to shaped, rubbed down and polished using field horsetail as an abrasive.

On prehistoric bows the bowstring is usually attached to one end of the bow by means of a loop and bound at the other end. There is no sign, however, of a bowstring.

Trials with reconstructed bows of this type have shown that wild animals can easily be taken down with considerable accuracy from a distance of 30–50 m.

Close examination of the bow stave revealed that it was covered in blood. When dry, blood acts as a water repellent.