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  • 1 Institute of the History of Material Culture St. Petersburg Russia
  • 2 State Historical Museum Moscow Russia
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This paper is concerned with the problem of the appearance and distribution of the traditional nomadic weapon — the composite bow — in Ancient Rus. The authors have summarised evidence on fifteen complexes with new finds of composite bows at the most ancient Russian sites. The preserved overlays of the bows enable us to reconstruct the technology of assembling bows of various types. The article also summarises evidence on the characteristic items of the equipment of eastern archers, which together with a composite bow constituted a single set: bowcases for keeping the bows and quivers. The results of the present studies have drawn the authors to the conclusion about the wide distribution of complex nomadic bows throughout Ancient Rus in the 10th century. The outmost concentrations of the finds have proved to be related with early towns and the culture of the rising Ancient-Russian elite — “druzhinas”. In the present study, the use of two types of bows in Rus — the “Hungarian” and the “Pechenegian” (“Turkic”) types — has been demonstrated. Among the Ancient-Russian finds, bows of the “Hungarian” type hold a prominent place. The most ancient finds are dated to the third quarter of the 10th century. The appearance of composite bows was part of the process of distribution of items of armament, horse-gear, costume and accessories connected with the nomads of Eastern Europe among the Ancient-Russian military subculture. Some of the finds come from rich funerary complexes which belonged to professional warriors of a high social status, who may have been participating in the war campaigns of Prince Svyatoslav in the Balkans and on the Danube.

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