The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory
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Stretching across continents and centuries, The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory provides a fascinating examination of executions, torture, ritual sacrifices, and other acts of violence committed in the prehistoric world.
- Written as an accessible guide to the nature of life in prehistory and to the underpinnings of human violence.
- Combines symbolic interpretations of archaeological remains with a medical understanding of violent acts.
- Written by an eminent prehistorian and a respected medical doctor.
powers.26 Having killed his enemy and recovered the body, an aoulatta was entitled to eat his victim’s arms and legs in order to obtain power, whilst the other warriors smeared themselves with the victim’s blood. Despite this, the warriors gained very little in terms of material wealth – protecting the village against pillagers and intruders was considered to be their role and fate. Their prestige meant that they were respected as a source of authority, even during times of peace, and were active
(“Epipaleolithic-Mesolithic”). It is important to bear in mind that, even if the presence of violent behavior in the Upper Paleolithic era can be confirmed, all interpretations of this behavior remain speculative, particularly where the earliest periods of human existence are concerned. For this reason, this work will focus primarily upon the most advanced stages of prehistoric society: the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. The role of prehistoric warfare has often been underestimated and labeled a
perhaps intended to represent a naval battle. There are also scenes of war and hunting: one figure is shown battling with two Figure 1 Gebel el-Arak dagger animals, perhaps lions. Elsewhere two (Egypt). Enlarged detail of the ivory figures confront each other, as if handle. Battle scenes are depicted on one side. After Sievertsen, cited in fighting a duel. In another painting, Midant-Reynes, 1999. one figure is shown beating three 2 enemies with a club. Another well-documented piece of evidence
one leg bent. He has been struck by at least four projectiles from his head to his lower back (figure 33). Fourteen members of another group, all very rangy figures, are shown standing close to an individual who is stretched out on the ground, his arms and legs spread wide. It seems as though the group wishes to disassociate itself from this figure (figure 34). There are no arrows in this picture, just a bow placed horizontally above the group. This scene may represent a sacrifice or some kind of
forest at an altitude of 800 m, i.e., in an area with a very low population density, conflict takes the form of skirmishes and ambush attacks. By contrast, in another village in New Guinea, marked levels of social competition are evident. This village is located in an area of savannah and secondary forest at an altitude of 1,600 m where agriculture is highly developed and hunting plays a lesser role. Here, the quest for prestige is a powerful driving force. The various villages are organized into