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

Courtney Archer, Iain Campbell, Fraser Cheyne, Amos Lim Jun Meng, Csongor Senanszky, Dimitrios Mamalis, Colin Robert, Parvez Alam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number139
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Composites Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sep 2020


  • Ju|’hoansi
  • arrowhead design
  • natural composites
  • materials design


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