Straight to the Point: The Bow and Arrow in Philippine Prehistory Based on Insights From Actualistic Studies and South and Southeast Asian Archaeology

Dante Ricardo Nacpil Manipon & Armand Salvador B. Mijares

Archaeological Studies Program, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines

The use of projectile weaponry such as the bow and arrow throughout prehistory has been observed across South and Southeast Asia. How such projectile weaponry arrived and was used in the Philippine archipelago, however, is not well-documented. What would it take for projectile weaponry to be a viable system in the prehistoric Philippine context? We explore the possibilities through experimental and actualistic studies that have been inspired by the Philippine archaeological record, as well as that from other locations in South and Southeast Asia. We attempt to manufacture and test the penetrative performance of various projectile points known throughout the region. In doing so, we hope to further understand potential adaptive strategies, material constraints, and challenges when it comes to hunting with a bow and arrow. This would allow for interesting insights into subsistence strategies and skill transfer as groups of people moved eastward from Africa into South and Southeast Asia during the prehistoric past.