Rediscovering History’s First Weapons.

Archeology has given us an insight into our violent past. We have discovered that the first humans, in the period we call pre-history, picked up sticks and rocks to strike at each other in spite, anger or for gain. Ever since those early days of humankind, we have been constantly trying to outdo each other by developing deadlier weapons. But where did it all begin is a question that I would like to briefly address first.

The Stone Age conjures up images of the first humans clubbing each other to death over the head with clubs and stones. In fact I would imagine that anything that wasn’t ‘bolted down’ was fair game. Sticks, for example, were also used as the first spears. They were crudely sharpened and their ends were fire-hardened. However, in time, these first spears were fixed with a blade made from a small piece of flint. However arguably the most sort after weapon during prehistoric times would have been the flint axe. Used at first as a tool or hand axe it became a lethal weapon once it was attached to a hilt or grip. The flint is arguably the worlds first versatile tool that created arrowheads, spear tips, knives or the flint axe head as seen below in the diagram.


Out of interest I would like to pose a question ….Did the human race evolve because of our innate violent nature or because of the weapons we crafted? This is, of course,  not a new question, but one that many have asked over time. Some claim to have the definitive answer, while others are still searching for the truth.

If we are to believe that human beings evolved because of violence, then for example, the opening sequences of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, A Space Odyssey doesn’t seem so far-fetched. There is a scene in the movie that shows a primitive human being or first primate discovering and kneeling over the bones of a dead animal. In the scene, the primate curiously looks over the bones before picking up one of the bigger bones and thumping it against the other bones. Of course, the bones jump up and the primate again strikes a few more. The primate then discovers the harder he strikes the bones, the more violently they disperse. Finally with great force he strikes the skull of the dead animal, shattering it into pieces. Is this the moment of euphoria or the discovery of the first human weapon?

In time and in the subsequent scenes, the primate uses the bone to help catch his meals and eventually to commit his first violent act with a weapon, against his own kind by murdering a member of a different group of primates. Yes, of course, I know this is only a movie, but you can see where I am going with this theory. From here on end, the human race awakened to a world of violent possibilities. A desire or need for power, wealth and exaltation?

Photo Credit: The screenshot of the primate from 2001 A Space Odyssey is owned by Metro- Goldwyn- Mayer. I believe my inclusion of it constitutes fair use in helping add to the discussion of the article. I am not the uploader of the You Tube clip embedded here.

2 comments on “Rediscovering History’s First Weapons.

  1. You pose a question that the faint of heart refuse to consider, and exploration of this question reveals answers that most do not wish to consider, it takes one down a dark path, and some fear that there will never be any light at the end. So why go there, where it is full of meanevilnasty deeds, and its revelations are two edged and cuts also the one seeking the answers??? Why not just think about kittens,puppy dogs, rainbows, and unicorns? Because the reality of this age is full of those that worship the gods of war, and to defend against these many enemies it is necessary to know their ways so as to protect against them and to avoid their traps.

    • Hi Robert,
      Wonderfully thought provoking post. It’s been eating at me over the last week. I have to say that although there is emphasis on war to bring on technology, it only accelerates it. Every human culture has made art, jewellery, tools and utensils. These, by large, they have been driven to do by the urge to celebrate and make their daily lives easier. War had nothing to do with it. Yes war has been responsible for leaps in technology but it’s not responsible for human behaviours that have evolved needs or wants that have given us other technology e.g, many diverse cultures play ball games – how does a sewn leather ball aid war. More basically, clothing. You post re needles is coming to mind with these examples. It’s not all doom and gloom. War produces an urgency that accelerates process – it’s to emotional to ask should we develop this, we just do. Without that urgency we allow the indolence that is fed by self doubts. My take on this.

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