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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:

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Thursday March 16 2023, @10:02PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday March 16 2023, @10:02PM (#1296572)

    If anything, it seems that the bigger stick we carry, the less we actually use it.

    WW I and II were horrific, but killed a relatively small percentage of our populations as compared to an invading horde who burst through town hurling rocks, spears, and possibly exotic diseases.

    The Cold War was (is?) absolutely existentially terrifying, but compare the number of humans who have died by nuclear detonation in anger vs those shot by machine guns...

    Lately we seem to need to fight "restrained" wars with smaller arms, just so people will put up with the violence.

    So, it absolutely makes sense that early agricultural societies, lacking even metalworking for swords and ploughshares, would have gone around pummeling each other with fists, rocks, and pointy sticks much more often than we hurl H bombs at each other.

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