Kurdish Warbow

tony08

New member
Not quite sure where to put this, or if it is of any interest to anyone here. I am just re-reading an old favourite of mine "Xenophon - The Persian Expedition".
Set in 401BC 10,000 Greek mercenaries march into Persia as part of a force intended to depose the Persian King.
The plan goes wrong and the Greeks are left stranded with no alternative but to fight their way out. They head up through Kurdistan and to the Black Sea slugging it out all the way.

Part of the Greek contingent were Cretan archers who were out-bowed by the Persians but when they arrived in the mountains of Kurdistan they met the mother of all warbows.
Xenophon describes the beast in the following manner:
...as bowmen they were very good. The bows they had were between four and five feet long and their arrows were of more than three feet. When they shot they put out the left foot and rested the bottom of the bow against it as they drew back the string. Their arrows went through shields and breastplates. When the Greeks got hold of any, they fitted them with straps and used them as javelins.
I guess these bows may have been drawn right back to the ear and must have had a terrific poundage. As far as I know, the English Longbow has its origin in Wales (may be wrong). Both also mountainous terrain.
 


Last edited:

Saxon

New member
Not quite sure where to put this, of if it is of any interest to anyone here. I am just re-reading an old favourite of mine "Xenophon - The Persian Expedition".
Set in 401BC 10,000 Greek mercenaries march into Persia as part of a force intended to depose the Persian King.
The plan goes wrong and the Greeks are left stranded with no alternative but to fight their way out. They head up through Kurdistan and to the Black Sea slugging it out all the way.

Part of the Greek contingent were Cretan archers who were out-bowed by the Persians but when they arrived in the mountains of Kurdistan they met the mother of all warbows.
Xenophon describes the beast in the following manner:

I guess these bows may have been drawn right back to the ear and must have had a terrific poundage. As far as I know, the English Longbow has its origin in Wales (may be wrong). Both also mountainous terrain.

If you speak to a Welshman the warbow originated in Wales!!

No-one really knows where it originally came from or how it developed through time.

I'd like to see what those bows were like though they sound like a lot of fun.
 


English Bowman

Active member
If you speak to a Welshman the warbow originated in Wales!!

No-one really knows where it originally came from or how it developed through time.

I'd like to see what those bows were like though they sound like a lot of fun.
Absolutely. The best guess is that the Longbow was introduced into Britain by the Vikings. Although the Welsh were famously good archers there is no proof that they invented the longbow, and plenty of evidence that they didn't. I reckon the idea of the English Longbow being a Welsh invention is complete nonsense

Daniel
 


englishwarbow

New member
Supreb post I'd like to read more on that!

The 'longbow' design goes back at least 5000years, Otzi was found with a bow of similar profile to an MR design althougth the mueseum seem to think it was a 50lb draw! They based that on a 'replica' bow made by someone who made target bows, the bow he made was in fact nothing like the Otzi bow. Steve Stratton made a replica based upon it but smaller (lack of good alpine yew) and that still came out at 90lb but I digress.

The fact is the basic long warbow design is very old indeed. It became what we know as an English Warobw or Longobow by it adaption by the English armies from Edward I and more importantly EdwardIII's time on. These bows were very, very powerfull, manufactured on an industrial scale (using the best yew from continental Europe), matched with the English Battle shaft complete with engineered armour piercing heads and used by men trained form childhood in the art of 'strong shooting'. That is what makes it the 'English Bow'as the french called it, similar but distinct from the norm, but the most important aspect was the archer. The English bowman was unique. Ah happy days (well if you didn't die of plague!)
 


tony08

New member
There doesn't seem to be any more in the book on this particular bow, although Xenophon does mention Persian bows as being distinct. I have seen depictions of Persian archers with almost body-length (recurve-ish) bows over their shoulders, so they must have been decent weapons for their time.

Although Cretan bows were evidently not as powerful, this didn't prevent them being used by Ceasar approx. 500 years later in his conquest of Gaul, as he had a contingent of Cretan archers with him. "They are listed fighting valiantly among the defenders of Constantinople in 1453". That's about 2000 years of tradition - not bad.
More here:
Cretan Archers in Roman Service

I was trying to figure out how the Kurdish bow could be drawn with the lower limb resting against the outstretched left foot. Surely this would distort the draw? He doesn't say whether the bow was released in this way or if was merely an aid to drawing.

I'm glad you mentioned Otzi, as it shows how far back mankind was using bows. If I rightly recall he had received an injury from an arrow himself, so he may have been ambushed, or in some kind of shoot out before he headed for the pass.

I have often wondered if the bow did not play a decisive part in the dominance of Homo Sapiens against the Neanderthals, who were in many ways physically superior. In any case it will have had an immediate impact on the amount and type of food a hunter could gather - and at lesser risk to himself.

But I speculate and ramble.
 


Top