From Rocks to Rockets

Concept Note and Call for Papers:

The projectile, whether as a weapon of war or hunting, marks a critical stage in the evolution of genus Homo, and especially into our species Homo sapiens. While tool use is documented among birds, and some form of tool-shaping among primates, the ability to make sharp-tipped tools that can be thrown at prey or conflicting individuals has only been observed in our species. Indeed, beginning with prehistoric times, humanity has relied on the thrown weapon to rise up to become the apex predator.

The projectile, in combination with other primate features such as binocular vision, the erect posture and the power grip finally made us human. It may be argued that were it not for the thrown weapon, members of our species would still be apes cracking bones to eat the marrow in the Savanna.

As blade technology improved through various stages, starting from the Oldowan and then further evolving into the Acheulian, the ability to dig for roots, to cut plants and meat, and split wood improved the standard of life steadily. The skill to haft flattened, pointed versions of these weapons to rudimentary spears in the Middle Palaeolithic led to the ability to hunt prey using a tool with a long reach, thus safeguarding the self. From here, it appears to have been a short leap of judgement to redesign the stabbing spear and to turn it into a throwing spear, thus enhancing range and also improving the success rates.

Thus, it is the ballistic weapon – with a pointed stone tool tied to a wooden stick (javelin) or even perhaps a coeval evolution in technology i.e. the bolas – that has given us the ability to bring down large prey and to provide us with valuable protein, furs, leather, sinew and tool- making bones, horns and antlers.

The javelin was soon succeeded by the atl-atl/woomera in many places thus further enabling range and accuracy and once again improving the margins of survival via success in the hunt. The final prehistoric technological evolution which took place either in the Upper Palaeolithic or most definitely in the Mesolithic was the Bow and Arrow and this was almost the apex ballistic weapon of the Stone Ages.

These javelins, atl-atls and bows and arrows would also make organised conflict possible, as growing populations clashed with each other for limited resources, and the fear of close combat was overcome.
From the prehistoric period to modern times, ballistics have played a crucial role in human evolution. This rise in long-distance weaponry also tested human ingenuity in building

defences against them and resulted in the emergence of the palisade and subsequent mud, brick and stone fortifications.
The Bronze and Iron Ages saw refinements in these technologies albeit with only incremental changes. Stone points were replaced by copper, bronze and iron, yet the basic designs remained the same.

The achievements of ballistic technologies kept pace with the defence strategies and soon ballistae, mangonels, catapults, onagers and trebuchets all emerged as weapons of offence and defence against fortifications.
The bow underwent numerous iterations from the longbow to the recurve and composite bows. Finally mechanical adaptations led to the emergence of the crossbow and arabalest in the 1st millennium BC.

All of these techniques involve muscle power and are collectively known as Neuroballistics. The challenge to Neuroballistics only came about with the widespread use of gunpowder and gunpowder based weapon systems only in the last millenium (11th c AD onwards) which along with rocketry are collectively known as Pyroballistics.

Due to the sheer variety of topics that need to be discussed the Ballistics Conference is broken into two. The first (in Feb 2022) will cover Neuroballistics from the Dawn of Man to the coming of Gunpowder. The second conference (later in July 2022) will be solely devoted to Pyroballistics and will take up where the first has left off and continue all the way to this day.

– Dr. Kurush F. Dalal and Raamesh Gowri Raghavan

Important Dates:

  • 7th September, 2021: Call for abstracts
  • 31st October, 2021: Last day for submission
  • 1-10th November, 2021: Vetting of abstracts
  • 31st January, 2021: Last day for paper submission with images and tables
  • 6-11th February, 2021: International e-conference: Part I – NeuroballisticsPart II – Pyroballistics


*Original Research by young students and researchers will be encouraged.
*All research and hypotheses need to be rooted in rationality.
*Abstracts that do not meet all the above criteria may not be considered for presentation. *Only accepted papers for which the completed manuscript has been submitted on time will be allowed for oral presentation.
*The organisers’ decision will be final. No appeals will be entertained.


    • ●  Each abstract should include the Title of the paper with the Author’s name, Name of the Institution, Email Address and Contact Number
    • ●  Abstracts should be in MS Word with Times New Roman, font size 12, line spacing 1.5 on A4 paper.
    • ●  Word Limit: 300-500 words with at least 4 keywords
    • ●  Medium: English
    • ●  Registration and Abstract Submission on:


●  Each paper should include the Title of the paper with the Author’s name, Name of the Institution, Email Address and Contact Number.

●  Papers should be in MS Word with Times New Roman, font size 12, line spacing 1.5 on A4 paper. It should include proper keywords, endnotes and bibliography.

●  All references to be made in the Chicago Style. (Intext, Endtext only, no references in footnotes)

Refer to:

●  Word Limit: Not be more than 5000 words

●  Medium: English

●  Full Paper should be mailed to:

Oral Presentation:

    • Each presenter will be allotted not more than 20 minutes for his/her oral presentation.
      Question-Answer session and Discussions will be at the end of each session
      Power Point Presentations will be encouraged (Presenters are requested to send their
      presentations by 1st February, 2022 so that there is backup available at the technical end
      of the organisers.)
      Medium: English
      The Organisers are not responsible for any network issue at the participant’s end.

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