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posted by janrinok on Thursday March 16 2023, @03:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the turning-ploughshares-into-swords dept.

Violence and warfare were widespread in many Neolithic communities across Northwest Europe:

Of the skeletal remains of more than 2300 early farmers from 180 sites dating from around 8000 – 4000 years ago to, more than one in ten displayed weapon injuries, bioarchaeologists found.

Contrary to the view that the Neolithic era was marked by peaceful cooperation, the team of international researchers say that in some regions the period from 6000BC to 2000BC may be a high point in conflict and violence with the destruction of entire communities.

The findings also suggest the rise of growing crops and herding animals as a way of life, replacing hunting and gathering, may have laid the foundations for formalised warfare.

[...] More than ten per cent showed damage potentially caused by frequent blows to the head by blunt instruments or stone axes. Several examples of penetrative injuries, thought to be from arrows, were also found.

Some of the injuries were linked to mass burials, which could suggest the destruction of entire communities, the researchers say.

Journal Reference:
Linda Fibiger, Torbjörn Ahlström, Christian Meyer, and Martin Smith, Conflict, violence, and warfare among early farmers in Northwestern Europe [open], PNAS, 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2209481119


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  • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday March 16 2023, @09:32PM

    by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 16 2023, @09:32PM (#1296564) Journal

    In historic times agricultural societies were often invaded by less settled groups. But the less settled groups were also often exported from their home agricultural society. (Not always, read about the Medes and the Persians.)
    The Hittite conquest of Egypt was carried out between two largely agricultural societies, but the Hittites were less settled and more militaristic. They also had better knowledge of iron working and horse handling. Or consider the invasion of Greece by the Danos (as in "timeo danaos et dona ferentes". Previously Greece had been held bye the Pelops (hence Peloponnesia) (i.e. the Mycenae). This WAS an unsettled tribe advancing to conquer an agricultural civilization.

    Well, OK. The problem is that we don't know that patterns during historic eras match those from earlier times. But agricultural lifestyles tend to support higher populations than hunter-gatherer or pastoral lifestyles. (I'm avoiding the word "civilization" here, as that means the art of living in cities.) But there is inherent conflict, because farms like to use the best hunting grounds.

    Were I to guess, I'd guess that the farmers kept moving onto the best hunting ground, until in desperation the hunters staged a "big hunt" against the farmers. Look into the interactions between the hunter-gathers or the pastorialists in recent time with the farmers moving onto their turf. Now imagine the weaponry on both sides was about equal, but the hunters were more proficient in the use.

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