The Mechanical and Material Designs of Composite Ju|’hoansi Arrowheads

In this paper, we elucidate the composite engineering design skills of the Kalahari Ju|’hoansi (San) people, developed over at least tens of thousands of years. In particular, we show that the mechanical and physical properties of materials used by the Ju|’hoansi in the design of arrowheads are intimately linked to their unique geometrical and composite designs. The Ju|’hoansi arrowheads have evolved to become complex engineered units with distinct function-specific purpose. We demonstrate herein that the geometrical designs of the arrowheads are optimised with respect to the material used. We furthermore verify the veracity of the Ju|’hoansi claim that their composite link-shafts are designed to break off leaving the arrowhead in the animal and the remaining parts of the arrow intact, reusable and easily retrievable.

Last Updated
February 18, 2021