Edinburgh Research Explorer

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Open Access permissions



  • Download as Adobe PDF

    Final published version, 1.53 MB, PDF document

    Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY)

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


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.

ID: 164850112