Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Omani Metal Bows

1 Nephi 16:18 tells the story of Nephi's broken steel bow. The incident happened ca. 600 BC along the Red Sea coast of modern Saudi Arabia. See the article "Book of Mormon Lands Lehite Old World Map January 2016." The question naturally arises, "Are metal bows attested in Arabian Peninsula archaeology during the Iron Age II?" The answer is yes. Thanks to Robert F. Smith for this gem passed along via Warren Aston.

The French Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) is the largest basic research organization in Europe. They support the French archaeological mission in central Oman which has been excavating near the town of Adam since 2007 in cooperation with Oman's Ministry of Heritage and Culture. At the site of Mudhmar est the French team found an exceptional cache of bronze weapons dating from the Iron Age II (900 - 600 BC). The collection consisted of five battle axes, five daggers, two quivers each with six arrows, about fifty arrowheads and five bows. The bows are bent at both ends and average approximately 70 centimeters (27 inches) in length. This is a photograph of one of the bows.
Bronze Bow from Central Oman
Photograph by Guillaume Gernez 
The weapons are decorative rather than functional. The string in the example above, for instance, is made of the same bronze as the bow. Archaeologists consider them scale models of the real objects.This is a photograph of the two quivers.
Copper/Bronze Quivers from Central Oman
Photograph by Guillaume Gernez
The quivers are about 35 centimeters (13 inches) long. This is the March 10, 2016 CNRS Press Release in French and English.

This map shows Mudhmar est relative to a possible site for the Lehite Camp of the Broken Bow.
Modern Arabian Peninsula with Mudhmar Est in Oman &
Proposed Camp of the Broken Bow in Saudi Arabia
These two locations are 1,980 air kilometers distant. So, a fine steel bow has not been found in a controlled context from the right time and place to have been an example typical of Nephi's weapon. Five fine bronze bows dating from Nephi's era have been found in situ by professional archaeologists in the same region where Nephi and his family traveled. Metal bows were known on the Arabian Peninsula in the Iron Age II.