North Africa. The ancient Egyptian people took to archery as early as 5,000 years ago. Archery was widespread by the time of the earliest pharaohs and was practiced both for hunting and use in warfare.
Although archery probably dates back to the Stone Age – around 20,000BC – the earliest people known to have regularly used bows and arrows were the Ancient Egyptians, who adopted archery around 3,000BC for hunting and warfare. In China, the earliest evidence of archery dates to the Shang Dynasty – 1766-1027BC.
When Europeans emigrants founded Jamestown in 1607, the Plains Indian peoples had long ago perfected their bows and arrows into powerful weapons for hunting game and waging war.
No evidence has been found suggesting Neanderthals had bows and arrows. They did have spears and spear-throwers; even bonobos can make spears. It had been thought that Neanderthals only used spears to stab, while clever Homo sapiens developed lighter spears to throw.
There were at least four waves of bow and arrow use in northern North America. These occurred at 12000, 4500, 2400, and after about 1300 years ago. But to understand the role of the bow and arrow in the north, one must begin in the eighteenth century, when the Russians first arrived in the Aleutian Islands.
In Native American tradition, the bow and arrow became an embodiment of power and magic, a power granted through the spirit world. Bow- and arrow-making became a specialist skill, just like in medieval England.
The earliest definite remains of bow and arrow from Europe are possible fragments from Germany found at Mannheim-Vogelstang dated 17,500–18,000 years ago, and at Stellmoor dated 11,000 years ago.
It took more than two million years to create the bow and arrow after man started making tools. Human beings were able to create tools around 2.5 million years ago – but we first made bows and arrows 64,000 years ago.
Neanderthals were consummate hunters of medium and large-sized mammals. There is evidence that they used stone-tipped spears to hunt.
The British have a long and cherished history with archery – a bow dating from 2690 BC (+/- 120 years) was recently found in Somerset.