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Update on Archer\'s Thumb Rings
About a year ago, RAT member Eduard posted his doubt to the antiquity of several thumb rings illustrated in Simonenko's book. His gist was-- thumb rings did not exist until the Muslim period, and the ones found at Duro Europa were much later than assumed.

So, a two-part question evolves: How old are archer's thumb rings, and where did they originate? I'll try to give an answer, and I welcome any comments and additional information.

In my search for "old" thumb rings, I discovered they arrived long before I thought they did. The oldest documented example was among the personal objects of Fu Hao, the woman general who died cira. 1,250 BC. Her thumb ring was made of jade and quite substantial:

After discovering the Bronze Age antiquity of thumb rings, I made an online search for more. This is what I found for sale:
These are also Chinese, but they serve the exact purpose described in Simonenko's work as used by the North Pontic Sarmatians, principally the Alans. The ring at the left is made from stone and may be a reproduction, or possibly "archaistic." The right-hand ring appears to be genuine, jade stained from centuries of black iron oxide, and much like Fu Hao's. It's translucent, a characteristic of genuine jade, and sunlight shines through it.

If we advance into the historical era and follow the Alans from the borders of China to the North Pontic, we find the ones pictured by Simonenko:
The items at the top appear to be quiver-hooks, not thumb rings. At the bottom we find the real thing. The lower ring at the left appears to be jade, the material still popular 1,000 years after the death of our woman warrior. The lower right-hand ring looks like some type of stone... or maybe it's bronze. I'll go with bronze. We notice the thumb ring has been modified, improved, now smaller yet still functional.

Now we look at another version, roughly about the same date-- 1st Century BC to AD Ist Century. It was sold to me by a Ukrainian dealer who claimed it was "Roman." It's also bronze, and I suspect it's Sarmat/Alanic since it looks like the ones pictured in Simonenko:

Well, I hope this post might interest someone. Simply put, the thumb ring was developed in the bronze age... even before bent-wood technology would give us the composite bow. Thumb rings are inexpensive, neat little tools, and I'm been fortunate to find a few... original or not. Confusedmile:

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Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb

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