Scythian bow replica

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Scythian bow replica

Adam Karpowicz
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Joined: 26 Dec 2008, 14:25

21 Mar 2010, 20:12 #1

I am posting a bow I made recently. It is an exact replica of an eastern Scythian bow, found inYanghai (Xinjang, China) and described in detail by Stephen Selby at ATARN (http://www.atarn.org/chinese/Yanghai/yanghai.htm). Scythians were the tribes roaming Central Asia in antiquity - in the western parts the bows were short and possibly made only of laminated wood, in the east the bows were longer and made of wood, horn and sinew. The most curious characteristic of these bows was the complicated construction and the section of the limbs, where in the bending parts the width of the bow was less than the thickness. The bows were made on the base of an ibex horn: each limb has a vertical slat in the core, laminated with wood at both sides, plus a horn plate on the belly. The belly plate is formed into distinct ridge. Bows were sinew-backed as usual.

This particular specimen is about 52 inches long ntn. The grip and the inner (deflexed) limbs are about 1 inch thick all through, then tapering towards the tips. The 1.5 inch wide grip narrows down to only 3/4 inch at the deflexed sections, then widens to about 1 inch towards the tips. There is groove to receive the string along the belly of the tips. The bow came at 115-120lb at 28 inches of draw, although arrows found with the bow were up to 32 inches. I did not try to pull the string that far! Shot partly drawn, it seems fast enough with little hand shock. I may try to test for performance, once my machine is fixed, but I do not expect something special here. On the other hand, who knows? thick limbs should be fast...

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The bow was quite a challenge to make. I hope the pictures work well enough.

Adam
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Adam Karpowicz
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Joined: 26 Dec 2008, 14:25

21 Mar 2010, 20:19 #2

A short film showing the draw: http://s806.photobucket.com/albums/yy34 ... idrawn.flv. As you see the tips are near-rigid, the grip and the deflexed limbs do most of the bending in this bow. It is possible other such bows had more bending in the outer limbs, as can be deduced from pictures of originals.

Adam
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DarkSoul
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Joined: 31 May 2007, 21:54

21 Mar 2010, 20:51 #3

Wow, that is really brutal, Adam! Not the kind of bow I fancy making one day, but it truly is one extreme design!
"Sonuit contento nervus ab arcu."
Ovid, Metamorphoses VI-286
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French Crow
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Joined: 25 May 2006, 17:31

21 Mar 2010, 20:53 #4

Amazing ! It's a true technical and historical feat.
Bruno
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KenHulme
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Joined: 14 Jan 2010, 20:21

22 Mar 2010, 00:04 #5

Beautiful, Adam!
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ryoon4690
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Joined: 20 Aug 2009, 17:03

22 Mar 2010, 03:58 #6

Holy cow! I just always find it amazing what shapes composite bows can take. I'd like to eventually make a korean bow but I'll leave the others to you. Again its great to see not only because of how cool it is but because someone is keeping history alive. You need an apprentice. Man kind owes you. Great work and keep it up. Image
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Adam Karpowicz
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Joined: 26 Dec 2008, 14:25

22 Mar 2010, 11:13 #7

Thanks everyone for the comments. Yes, the bow was a challenge to make, no doubt.... Unlike other composites it has this primordial quality to it, plus the weirdness of construction.

Adam
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Zoran Alexandar
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Joined: 05 Nov 2009, 20:30

22 Mar 2010, 14:43 #8

Adam, 
I already saw your scythian replica at atarn and i am still veeeeery impressed though scythian bow construction is still nightmare for me, i am often thinking about it. As i understood, construction of scythian bow is totally different than mongol,magyar or any other asiatic bow type, because it seems that ibex horn is core of the bow(am i right?). Unlike the other ones horn in scythian type goes vertical and wooden parts are glued on both sides of ''horn core''?.I would like to know about wood, is it possible to use wooden parts from sapling? I know that you are still working on the performance of this bow and once you will publish your researchs, but i would like to know a bit more about basic construction since my knowledge of english isn't so good to understand everything. Anyway, can say, you are hero on reconstruction of scythian bow beside Michael ''Redhawk'' and mr.Godehardt and your research once will help me in some of my researchs and hypothesis in regards bows used in Balkan peninsula. You made ancient history arise.
Wish you good luck in your works for lifetime and Greetings from Serbia.
Zoran
Last edited by Zoran Alexandar on 22 Mar 2010, 15:02, edited 2 times in total.
Serbie is de land van mooie geschidenis.Serbie is in mijn hart, Vlaanderen ook.
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mijn hobby
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Joined: 12 Jan 2007, 01:25

22 Mar 2010, 20:14 #9

Wow! Amazing work! i'm very very impressed.
I would have never thought that a bow could be thicker then it is wide, Did you experience any stability problems?

Thanks for sharing this with us.


Mark
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Adam Karpowicz
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Joined: 26 Dec 2008, 14:25

22 Mar 2010, 23:35 #10

Yes, Zoran, your remember correctly: the ibex horn strip, cut from the side of the ibex horn, is laminated vertically between two wooden parts. I cut my core from saplings and from tree roots for the grip, as the originals could have been very likely cut as well. Horizontal horn strips go on the belly and sinew on the back. Then the whole bow is wrapped with sinew. The cross-section through most of the limb resembles a rounded triangle, with one corner towards the the belly horns. This bow represents the eastern Scythian bows, not the western (probably all wood) bows in the Godehardt's research (he will continue his work with new bows).

Mark, you make a good point about stability. I expected problems, but once the bow was wrapped transversely with sinew it became as stable as most hornbows. Bear in mind the limbs are permanently deflexed in the narrow sections.

Adam
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Juri
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Joined: 27 Sep 2005, 05:24

22 Mar 2010, 23:50 #11

Oh mine! Thats a really weird construction. Its hard to see any bending there, it rather just closes down.
Remains me somehow of Möllegabet-bow, like most of the limbs being just stiff and narrow levers.
Looks also like the top limb is a bit longer.
Im very interested to hear how it shoots. There must be some good reason to make the bow so complicated.
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Zoran Alexandar
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Joined: 05 Nov 2009, 20:30

23 Mar 2010, 08:19 #12

Adam,
Thank you very much for this nice explaination, it is more than helpful.
Your research on skythian replica(and several discussion with you about representation of composite bows in serbian monasteries and illuminations) and also Godehardt's one, by the time helped me to get new opinion and hypothesis in my research.It is fact that composite bow is creation of the nomad shepperds and hunter populations from the steppes of Central Asia but it was early took over by other warrior peoples. I would like to stop on using skythian type bow in Roman army used by Sarmatian and other auxilliary troops. If this type of bow proved its efficiency do you think that it developped in some more perfect form, specially in ''Byzantine comonwealth'', they didn't need to change what was proved? Tripple curved bows that appears in the artistic representation in byzantine art were nightmare to me in previous years, specially limbs tappered toward the end and big reflexio in the grip. Now, i get clearly picture and i cannot always accept the fact that these painted bows are stylized and that they were always adopted from Tatars, Cuman and Yassians as mercenaries or Hungarians and proto-Bulgarians.I get more courage to try some revitalization of any bow, but it needs a time, perhaps it is work for life time if someone else couldn't do  before me, but i would be happy and pleased even in this case if someone else finish this job. On Godehardt's researchs, i think he is focussed more on western skythian type bows which were all wood, and research on Holger Eghardt,J.Werner,Bezuglov and later scientists.(i would accept the opinion that all wood,western skythian bows found in kurgans were buried in the graves together with died one because working bow was kept by the descendant of warrior or ''king''). I hope to continue discussion at atarn(if you share a bit of my opinion). Thank you again and God bless you.
Zoran
Last edited by Zoran Alexandar on 23 Mar 2010, 08:32, edited 3 times in total.
Serbie is de land van mooie geschidenis.Serbie is in mijn hart, Vlaanderen ook.
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Redhorse
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Joined: 15 Nov 2005, 14:04

23 Mar 2010, 09:45 #13

Hi Adam. The longer arrow can maybe be explained from the deflexed unbraced bow. If the bow was reflexed as a Turkish it would be difficult to brace behind a leg, as may ancient arts shows. That gives also a short power stroke if drawn short. So easy brace an long draw makes it.
I see you have the bow resting at center and the upper limb bend more. I have been thinking that this bow maybe should be hold under the center and tilted forward, when the bow are draw the nocks would be vertical?
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Adam Karpowicz
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Joined: 26 Dec 2008, 14:25

23 Mar 2010, 10:33 #14

Zoran, you are facing a monumental task to research the history of bow in your area, where so many tribes fought and mixed for centuries. I am very skeptical of old pictures, since they show in most cases the archery tackle contemporary to the artist, with little historical value if the subject was off even as little as a generation away. It is possible the all-wood bows of the Scythians were indeed grave goods and not functional bows. On the other hand, I modelled one of these short bows on a computer and found draw weights in the range of 80-100lb at 20 inches of draw, which is reasonable and the wood was not dangerously stressed.

You are making a good point about the draw length Redhorse and you may be right about the need for the longer draw for this bow. Holding the bow under the center has been suggested before and there is a pictorial representation of that, but so are others. I have tried holding the bow under the apex of the grip reflex and I am certain it is not possible to do comfortably. The best grip position is at the center of grip as usual with the nocking point adjusted accordingly.

In the case of this bow design, the shape of limbs follows the shape of the ibex horns, which makes every such bow have a little different curvature in the tips with some of them having no more than a short hook to hold the string. It means the curvature of the bow's limbs was not intentionally "designed" to make the bow shoot better. In more recurved/low braced specimens the lift-off of the string will add a little energy storage as a side effect of this profile. I believe the main advantage of this design may be the exceptional thickness of limbs for increased efficiency, but this should be tested in practice, hopefully with more such bows.

Adam
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Zoran Alexandar
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Joined: 05 Nov 2009, 20:30

23 Mar 2010, 13:44 #15

Adam,
I respect your opinion and for now it seems like you wrote though there are more possibilities. But am not focussed only on mural painting,it was only basis of my research. Archaeology in my country and other neighbour countries still didn't find any artifact on this theme(do mean late mediaeval times, there's a lot of artifacts,bone and grip stiffeners,three winged arrowheads from Bulgaria and north Serbia from early mediaeval times and those ones found in the place of remains of old serbian capital Ras dated in XII c,for exemple) which no means that it didn't existe. Even if we talk about ottoman bows as i know there's not a lot of artifacts from the time  we are talking about,having in mind that Ottoman empire was rising super power then and centuries after that. Also, purpose of mural painting wasn't to give realistic depiction of something as it wasn't time of rennaissance or realism. So, your, Godehardt's, McLeod's and many other's researchs shown that there were other form of construction of composite bows, not only usual as we know from mongolian,hungarian etc. It would be ridiculous to talk about presence of composite bows as autochtonous weapon of some Balkan peoples(Serbs,Croatians,Greeks) but only trying replica could show whether some ''working'' painted bows could work or not. I hope time will tell and it would be good for traditional archery and more clear historical picture. I do not want to ruin your theme about your wonderful replica and will stop now.
*I have one question more: About horn, did you use natural shape of ibex horn and if you needed to make reflex of e.g. 5-6mm tick horn plate did you do it by steaming if you didn't use several horn parts for the core? (damn, it is so complicated for my brain at the moment even if i need to read Stephen's handwritting;-)
Greets
Zoran
Last edited by Zoran Alexandar on 23 Mar 2010, 13:49, edited 1 time in total.
Serbie is de land van mooie geschidenis.Serbie is in mijn hart, Vlaanderen ook.
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mijn hobby
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Joined: 12 Jan 2007, 01:25

23 Mar 2010, 22:33 #16

Thanks for the explanation Adam, i find it interesting that the sinew wrap will help stabilize the bow but i can't seem to grasp the idea of why it's doing that; is it because it's applied in certain way? Are the wrapped layers spiraling in opposite directions?

Mark
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Adam Karpowicz
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Joined: 26 Dec 2008, 14:25

23 Mar 2010, 23:39 #17

Zoran, I did not have the ibex horn, but replicated the exact shape of the original ibex by splicing a recurved tip into a near-straight limb piece. The grip has no horn inside.

Mark, yes I wrapped the limbs with sinew once over the entire length up to the tips, then put on another layer in the opposite direction through the bending parts (from one deflex to the other). The original had the two layers there as well. I noticed an immediate improvement in torque resistance after one layer, two layers made it even better. I doubt if the warps in the opposite direction or not make any difference. The thickness of the wrapping is more important.

Adam
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Patrick St M
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Joined: 14 Sep 2006, 08:11

24 Mar 2010, 00:13 #18

That's just brilliant. I love the short clip of it being drawn. It looks alive.
All the samples of excavated composites seem to show the alternating diagonal wrapping so it's pretty historically accurate. It seems to make the most sense as it probably ties everything together better.
I'd love to take a couple of flight shots with it and see how it performs.
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fusizoli
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Joined: 23 Jan 2009, 14:58

24 Mar 2010, 10:37 #19

I could just agree with the Others. Fantastic & beautifull ! Looking foward to this conversation . Hope will post some build-along pics too. Cheers Zoltán
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zora
Registered User
Joined: 26 Apr 2009, 09:43

24 Mar 2010, 18:03 #20

looking great to me, but i am not an adept, like some.
one question on western scythian wooden bow. any link where i could get more info on these?
ways and roads will regret Turkish absence, but Turks will be gone...
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