Annemieke Milks

Annemieke Milks

London, United Kingdom

UCL Institute of Archaeology. Member: European Society of Human Evolution, Lithic Studies Society, European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association, Society of American Archaeologists.

PhD Candidate


Published on Jul 20, 2016

Experiment Day!

Hi backers! A quick lab note to say that it's experiment day here at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. The beautiful spear replicas are ready to be prepared for the air can...

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Published on Jun 23, 2016

Setting the experimental protocol

Of the questions I’m asked most frequently about my research, those relating to setting the experimental protocol based on our understanding of the parameters of ancient technologie...

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Published on Jun 15, 2016

Open Access Publishing - New Stretch Goal

Hi everyone. So many thanks for all of the supportive views, comments and of course donations so far. Several people have asked if I can commit to publishing this research open acce...

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Published on Jun 09, 2016


Wow - already reached the goal! Thanks so much to the backers of this experiment, I'm so grateful for your support. I will post here soon with some more lab notes, and some stretch goals with any a...

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Published on Jun 08, 2016

Introducing Annemieke Milks

As a kid my parents were constantly taking us to archaeological sites and museums in the USA and in Europe. I was always grabbed by imagining what life was like for people in the pa...

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great project, good luck
Apr 27, 2018
When did we start the fire?
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Sounds cool! I hope the research will help those of us looking to replicate spear thrusting, and provide some data for experiments. Will you be testing on gel or animal or both?
Dec 11, 2016
Did our ancestors use wooden spears as hand-thrown hunting weapons?
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Hi Helga, Thank you so much for your thoughts, and experiences. My apologies for taking so long to reply to you. I have not personally looked at digging sticks though I'm well aware of them and of some interesting archaeological examples. What I'd never heard about is them being used multi-purpose as hunting/self-defence weapons as well. Do you have any published references on that? If not perhaps you would permit me to cite your field experiences/observations in my research as this is really very interesting. You can email me with any more thoughts. Really appreciate it! -Annemieke
Jul 01, 2016
Did our ancestors use wooden spears as hand-thrown hunting weapons?
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Hi! Thanks for your comment. Atlatls are really amazing. But we don't see any evidence for them until well into the Upper Palaeolithic, with just modern humans around, somewhere around 20,000 years ago. That's the reason that there's an almost universal consensus that hand-delivered spears (thrusting and/or throwing) were the main hunting technology of the period I'm researching (ca. 500,000-300,000 BP). You're absolutely right that atlatls look to be more effective, though there are many researchers aiming to really understand what it is about that technology (distance? impact velocity? aim?) that is an improvement over hand-delivered technologies. It's partly to help understand those differences in technology that I'm conducting this experiment, so we can have a better understanding of how hand-thrown spears functioned. Having said all that, it's important to remember that modern human hunter gatherers often used hand-delivered spears (both thrusting and throwing), including wooden pointed ones! So it will help us understand our own species as well. I hope that makes sense. A
Jun 23, 2016
Did our ancestors use wooden spears as hand-thrown hunting weapons?
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Hi Dr. Tobin, Thanks so much for your comment. Some really interesting, and relevant points. The first thing to note is that H. heidelbergensis, the species we think were most likely to have been making and using the spears during this time period, we large and robust humans. There is a lot of debate amongst palaeoanthropologists about their (and the Neanderthals') ability to throw. I'm diverging from that debate a bit to simply test the spears themselves, and their ability to function as hunting weapons. Because of the species issue, making a guess about impact velocities is indeed problematic, not only for the significant reasons you mention but for the additional issues of variation due to differences in species. Prior to this experiment, I conducted an experiment using trained javelin athletes to throw replicas of the spears. We filmed the release and impact velocities to attempt to paint a bigger picture of how these spears fly, and what impact velocities our species at least are capable of producing. From that trial, in addition to some further published results on hand-thrown spear velocities, we will test a range of velocities. We also tested the success of our javelin athletes at hitting a target from a series of 5 - 25 meter distances, though I believe further work on this is needed with a larger sample of throwers with varying skills. We captured the impact velocities at varying distances. So, I feel I have pretty well defined the prior parameters of distance and impact velocities, as you have suggested, in previous a experiment, the results of which largely corroborate anecdotal and experimental studies. The kinetic energy (mass*velocity2) is easy to calculate based on the filmed speed. I hope this addresses your comment! Thanks for taking time to discuss. A
Jun 22, 2016
Did our ancestors use wooden spears as hand-thrown hunting weapons?
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Thanks Cindy! If you pm me your address I can mail you a small thank you I've made for the backers :)
Jun 10, 2016
Did our ancestors use wooden spears as hand-thrown hunting weapons?
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Good luck - looks like a really important project. I love my sleep and my 5 year old still sometimes naps!
Jun 08, 2016
The sleeping brains of babes: Why do children nap, and when should they stop?
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