The evolution of projectile weapons

American Scientist has a fascinating podcast on the evolution of the human capacity for killing at a distance – in other words, the cultural evolution of projectile weapons.

The talk is by anthropologist Steven Churchill who looks at what motivated the development of projectile weapons – initially rocks, slings and spears and – and what effect these developments had on the culture of ancient peoples.

He starts as far back as the time when neanderthals and modern humans were both in existence and discusses how the development of these weapons may have influence the competition between the two species.

He also discusses how these weapons may have affected human evolution and notes that these weapons make group attacks easier, meaning that it was probably easier for societies to police themselves and so leading to selection against aggressive individuals.

A thoroughly fascinating discussion, where Churchill talks about historical evidence as well as his own studies where he’s asked people to test the limits of using ancient weapons.

Link to ‘The Evolution of the Human Capacity for Killing at a Distance’.

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