The composite bow.

The ancient Egyptians used several different types of bows. The two most common varieties were the self bow, made of one piece of wood, and the laminated composite bow.

The composite bow was introduced to Egypt from Western Asia probably around 1700 BC. It was made of layers of different materials, such as wood, horn and sinew. It was superior to the self bow and could hit a target at a distance of some 250 m. The bow had a characteristic double-curve shape which became triangular when strung (the ends were bent back when the bow was being strung).

The photograph shows a self bow (top) and five composite bows from the tomb of Tutankhamun. H. Burton photo. 484. © Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

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