Archaeologists in Xi’an have recently discovered the most complete ancient crossbow yet unearthed in the terracotta army pit.
People’s Daily reports that among the hundreds of pieces of ancient crossbows that have been unearthed, this one rates as the best-preserved, complete with a 145cm arch and a 130cm bow string. The head of the archaeological team, Shen Maosheng, says that the bow string is most likely made of animal tendon instead of fabric and the trigger mechanism is fashioned from bronze.
If that’s not excitement enough for you, Shen also said that this crossbow illuminates how qing (檠), two wooden sticks often discovered alongside crossbows, were used in order to maintain and transport the weapons. Apparently, the function of this device has yet to be clearly identified.
“When we dusted off the sticks, we found three holes equidistant from each other and concluded that they were probably used to hang up ropes that fastened the crossbows when they were not in use,” Shen said.
“It was a great way to keep the arch and string in shape and thus maintain their power in the long run. Besides, qing was practical to help fix the crossbows during transportation.”
The best ancient crossbows (like this one) had a shooting range of some 2,600 feet, double that of an AK47, giving its bearers a big advantage. Today, they are principally used in police recruitment ads.
by Alex Linder
[Images via People’s Daily]