What Were Common Cavemen Weapons?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 28, 2020 12:13:58 PM ET

Cavemen used a variety of stone and wood weapons including clubs, the atlatl, spears, slings, arrows and knives. Other common tools, such as stone hand axes or even heavy grinding stones, could also be used as weapons if necessary.


The earliest prehistoric weapons were probably simple clubs or stones that ancient hominids could pick up and use with little or no modification. Later, stones were beaten into useful shapes using other stones. Sometimes they were given grooves so they could be tied to sticks, sometimes points or edges were added.

A major advance was the discovery of flint, which could be chipped to give razor-sharp edges and worked into specific shapes by skilled flint-knappers. Stone artifacts made from this material are made in such uniform shapes that they can be used to identify the cultures and times that archaeological digs date to. Later humans developed ranged weapons such as the atlatl, the sling and the bow. Each of these devices can be used to hurl projectiles with much more force and accuracy than simple throwing ever could.

It is likely that prehistoric humans used many other weapons depending on the resources of the regions in which they lived, such as the Polynesian shark-tooth sword. However, because of the organic nature of many such tools, these weapons have rarely passed into the archaeological record.