History and Anthropology of
Boomerangs are probably the
first heavier-than-air flying machine ever invented by
human beings. The oldest Australian Aboriginal
boomerangs are ten thousand years old but older hunting
sticks have been discovered in Europe, where they seem
to have formed part of the stoneage arsenal of weapons.
King Tutankhamun, the famous
Pharao of ancient Egypt, who died 2,000 years ago, owned
a collection of boomerangs of both the straight flying
(hunting) and returning variety.
No one knows for sure how the
returning boomerang was first invented, but some modern
boomerang makers speculate that it developed from the
flattened throwing stick, still used by the Australian
Aborigines and some other tribal people around the world
(eg the Navajo Indians in America). A hunting boomerang
is delicately balanced and much harder to make than a
returning one. Probably, the curving flight
characteristic of returning boomerangs was first noticed
by stone age hunters trying to "tune" their
hunting sticks to fly straight. At some point, someone
must have noticed the recreational possibilities of a
stick that comes back when you throw it away and the
rest is (pre) history.
some reason the boomerang (both hunting and returning)
was preserved in it's highest state of development by
Aborigines - so much so that most people
associate boomerangs only with Australia. It has been
suggested that this may be due to the unique suitability
of the hunting stick as weapon against upright standing
prey (kangaroos and emus) in relatively open country.
This, combined with the curious fact that the Australian
Aborigines are amongst the few cultures in the world
never to have developed the bow and arrow may have
ensured its preservation as a living tradition.
Link to a good overview of the
development of the boomerang: http://www.rediboom.com/englisch/geschich/