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Earth Science

An Ancient, Brutal Massacre May Be the Earliest Evidence of War 151

HughPickens.com writes: Violence has always been part of human behavior, but the origins of war are hotly debated. Some experts see it as deeply rooted in evolution, pointing to violent confrontations among groups of chimpanzees as clues to an ancestral predilection while others emphasize the influence of complex and hierarchical human societies, and agricultural surpluses to be raided. Now James Gorman writes in the NY Times that scientists have discovered a site in Africa dated about 10,000 years ago where a group of hunter-gatherers attacked and slaughtered another, leaving the dead with crushed skulls, embedded arrow or spear points, and other devastating wound. It's not clear that anyone was spared at the Nataruk massacre. Of the 27 individuals found, eight were male and eight female, with five adults of unknown gender. The site also contained the partial remains of six children. Twelve of the skeletons were in a relatively complete state, and ten of those showed very clear evidence that they had met a violent end. In the paper, the researchers describe "extreme blunt-force trauma to crania and cheekbones, broken hands, knees and ribs, arrow lesions to the neck, and stone projectile tips lodged in the skull and thorax of two men." Four of them, including a late-term pregnant woman, appear to have had their hands bound. "These human remains record the intentional killing of a small band of foragers with no deliberate burial, and provide unique evidence that warfare was part of the repertoire of inter-group relations among some prehistoric hunter-gatherers," says Dr Marta Mirazon.

The killers carried weapons they wouldn't have used for hunting and fishing, including clubs of various sizes and a combination of close-proximity weapons like knives and distance weapons, including the arrow projectiles she calls a hallmark of inter-group conflict. " This suggests premeditation and planning," says Mirazon Lahr. Other, isolated examples of period violence have previously been found in the area, and those featured projectiles crafted of obsidian, which is rare in the area but also seen in the Nataruk wounds. This suggests that the attackers may have been from another area, and that multiple attacks were likely a feature of life at the time. "This implies that the resources the people of Nataruk had at the time were valuable and worth fighting for, whether it was water, dried meat or fish, gathered nuts or indeed women and children. This shows that two of the conditions associated with warfare among settled societies—control of territory and resources—were probably the same for these hunter-gatherers, and that we have underestimated their role in prehistory."
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An Ancient, Brutal Massacre May Be the Earliest Evidence of War

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  • Not at all (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudsononline AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 21, 2016 @05:56PM (#51346759) Journal
    There were wars long before humans. Even termites and ants exhibit such behavior. We are not special snowflakes who invented the idea.
    • Re:Not at all (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @06:48PM (#51347099)

      But we're as far as I know the only species that hunts and kills each other for no other reason than for fun. With every other species you can point to a logical reason to kill another member of your own species, be it competition for food, mating rights, territory or even to eat the competitor.

      We need no such petty reasons. We just do it.

      • Re:Not at all (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JazzLad ( 935151 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @07:00PM (#51347209) Homepage Journal
        Cats do too. [theoatmeal.com] Yes, that is a silly piece, not to be taken too seriously, but Google cats kill for fun [google.com] and see 7M results, not all humour.
        • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

          Cats do too. [theoatmeal.com] Yes, that is a silly piece, not to be taken too seriously, but Google cats kill for fun [google.com] and see 7M results, not all humour.

          And the owners are responsible for a massive species extinction because they think their cat doesn't do that. If people have to lock dogs up - why should it be different for cats. Maybe we need a war on irresponsible pet ownership!

          • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

            Consider that wherever there are now domestic cats, there used to be a host of other predators -- weasels, mink, bobcats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, etc, etc. If anything, there is now less predation than before, because cats are not as efficient at arboreal predation, are rather more size-limited (unlike a mink or weasel, cats are not good at predating larger animals) and don't do underground predation at all.

            • I'll just leave this here: http://www.bbc.com/news/scienc... [bbc.com]

              Felines accompanying their human companions have gone on to prey on the local wildlife, and they have been blamed for the global extinction of 33 species.

              Cats don't just replace the local predators. They are better at killing than most other small predators. And they are also sadistic bastards who will torture prey before they kill them. They may not bring down moose, but everything smaller than them is just a toy to be killed.

              I have two cats. The male is definitely a murderer. Nothing smaller than him can come into the apartment without being killed. And as I bought him to be a mouse catc

              • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                Ya know, it's not fair to lay it on the cats when they're brought into a closed environment, like an island, that previously lacked efficient predators (and where lack of evolution to support predator pressure makes for an easily-killed prey population), as is often the cited case -- that's just not comparable to a larger environment, like, say, North America, with a broad spectrum of native predators and where the only real displacement has been in urban areas.

                And cats are sure as hell not better at killin

                • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

                  Ya know, it's not fair to lay it on the cats when they're brought into a closed environment,

                  No one is blaming the cats, it is their nature to be a predator. Blame the owners of the cats who won't acknowledge the cats natural instinct to be a hunter and won't keep their cats from going outside without supervision and for people who dump cats in the bush where they go feral. The situation where I live is different from you and the evidence of cats driving species to extinction is plain to see.

                  Nor does it account for that feline populations are pretty much limited to where man has already changed the environment. Which is really responsible for previous species going away??

                  Ultimately humans, for introducing the cats to where they don't belong and for not keeping them indoors.

                  There have been studies that noted that if it weren't for feral cats keeping the rat population in check, rats would quickly exterminate urban birds, because rats climb into nests and feed on eggs and hatchlings. (This was also my observation in an area where the cats got eaten by owls and the rats got out of hand... pretty soon there were no birds left. Not even starlings.)

                  Tha

                  • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                    Both articles are a lot of vague handwringing. If Australian criteria for "endangered" is anything like what it is in the U.S., it's probably just as bogus. Examples that leap to mind: The spotted owl -- miscounted (it was WAG'd that the population density would be much greater than their natural density of about one pair per square mile, and they were only counted in a very small assumed range even tho they occur all along the west coast) and misconstrued (it's actually a color variant of the barred owl, n

                    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )
                      I don't think anyone is going to convince you that it's a cat's nature is to hunt and kill, no matter how big or small. Probably because you love cat's and don't want to believe they can do that much damage.

                      The issue is not whether cat's are or are not responsible, the issue is responsible pet ownership. Cat's are beautiful animals and wonderful companions for people, however they are not toy's and many get dumped. When they are feral, they are quite vicious and, they are as equal an issue as other introdu

                    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                      Actually, I don't especially like cats. I like *some* cats, the ones that behave more like domesticated animals and less like wild beasts. And I'm quite familiar with feral cats, and predator species of various sorts.

                      What I'm saying, that you don't seem to get and is roundly ignored by people who decry predation by cats, is that cats only partially (and inadequately) replaced other predators that no longer exist in these environments; cats didn't suddenly arrive in a predator-free situation (exceptions note

                    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )
                      I think we are talking about different scenarios. I appreciate the description of your locale, mine is different.

                      cats didn't suddenly arrive in a predator-free situation (exceptions noted for isolated islands where medium and larger predators failed to arrive or evolve -- remember the species already there invaded too, if much longer ago).

                      This is exactly what has happened in my locale.

                      And cats generally don't survive away from human influence. Other predators think they're very tasty and all too easily caught. Cripes, in the desert I couldn't grow cats fast enough to keep the owl and coyote buffet stocked. Every cat that went outside the fence got eaten.

                      Where I live, every cat that gets into the wild, breeds more cats. I used to hunt to help the farmers out (mainly with wild rabbits, goats, pigs and foxes) and they would carry a ball pean hammer to deal with the nasty little bastards.

                      Cats are very successful predators here and there are too many of them killing off the parrots, marsupials.

                      And considering that in an urban or suburban setting you will have either free-roaming cats, or assloads of rats and mice, which do you choose??

                      We have

        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

          Most predators kill for sport. Wolves particularly enjoy a night with a flock of sheep. I've had cats that spent all their time killing vermin and never ate any of it. (One managed to completely exterminate the local gopher population in about six months.)

      • by JazzLad ( 935151 )
        Ahh, hit send too soon, I may have misunderstood & you meant only killing the same species. In that case, mea culpa :)
      • food, mating rights, territory or even to eat the competitor

        Let me add natural resources, and then my sig borrowed from Fallout fully applies. War never changes.

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        But we're as far as I know the only species that hunts and kills each other for no other reason than for fun. With every other species you can point to a logical reason to kill another member of your own species, be it competition for food, mating rights, territory or even to eat the competitor.

        Well, if you just killed someone for fun. they aren't competing for your food, mating rights, or territory, and you always have the option to eat them. And should you ever have to kill someone for logical reasons (which would have been a rather common thing in many cultures of the past), then you have more practice at it.

      • I've raised chickens and they seem to do it. I had one chicken where the others ganged up on it and pecked out its side. The was a huge hole where you could see all of its organs. That chicken lived another 6 months like that, but with some sort of scab growing over.
        • Re: Not at all (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It's called a pecking order for a reason. Chickens have a complex hierarchical social structure. If a chicken doesn't respect the existing structure it either becomes the boss or is killed trying.

      • So what does that have to do with the topic under discussion, which is war? Oh, right, nothing.

        How is "fun" not a logical reason? It improves survivability skills.

      • Re:Not at all (Score:4, Interesting)

        by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @10:40PM (#51348229) Homepage

        There is more of a logical twist in the growth of human conflict. In more social minded era, the desire to not kill fellow humans resulted in the most server punishment being permanent exile from the tribe and the individual being left eventual die alone exposed to the wilderness without any support. This tended to work fine until population densities became high enough so that exiles could find each. So the inevitably psychopathic plotting a scheming kicked it and results in the obvious, the take over of a normal tribe and killing off many males, enslaving the rest and raping of the females and a new psychopathic tribe was created (the penultimate example being spartans and the helots, warrior and slave culture). Cant have to many psychopaths otherwise they of course tear themselves apart and of course the lazy fuckers don't want to do any real work, just beat people up until they do the work for them and of course rape women as a leisure activity.

        Inevitably as psychopath numbers grew by rape, so those psychopathic tribes either attacked and took over other tribes or self destructed. Something that still be can be seen to this day. The psychopaths grow in percentage and either continue to expand the range of the society they control or those societies collapse due to excessive predation on the environment or on the non psychopaths who do all the work (they continually need to bring in more non psychopaths to do the work as they are bred out, for being less competitive in psychopathic societies, so increased territory or immigration). The greater the proportion of psychopaths the quicker the collapse, unless growth is maintained, the greater the number the worse and far more violent the outcome, it is just their inherent genetic nature (those same genetic anti-social defects can and do occur in other species and those individual are similarly ostracised but lack the ability to collude togethor to take over via murder and reproduce via rape).

        The most awful glaring modern example of this, American Republicans refusing abortions for victims of rape, an inherent requirement of the psychopathic reproduction cycle (in modern terms either direct rape or economic rape, using economic dominance to force unwilling reproduction partners to breed with psychopaths).

        • Even worse, the human female seems to have been eugenically bred to possess increased sexual response and increased fertility in a prolonged multi-partner sex event like gang rape. Just read the research on time to orgasm (longer than single male partner's time to ejaculate), orgasm response increasing fertility, female sexual response to violence, involuntary orgasm during rape, etc.

          Scary when you start to think about how our early, violent evolution is represented in our phenotype today. Frank talk abou

        • You are confusing Republicans with certain religious zealots. The sets overlap, but neither set is a superset of the other.
      • But we're as far as I know the only species that ...

        Only because you don't know enough about other species...

      • But we're as far as I know the only species that hunts and kills each other for no other reason than for fun.

        Chimpanzees do the same and are actually more violent than humans.

      • Oh we have reasons, just different ones.

        Land, oil, resources, money, and allegiance to an imaginary friend.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Usually it's about dominance or resources. Sometimes it's about wanting to break off from another group. it's not "for fun" on a mass scale.

      • But we're as far as I know the only species that hunts and kills each other for no other reason than for fun. With every other species you can point to a logical reason to kill another member of your own species, be it competition for food, mating rights, territory or even to eat the competitor.

        We need no such petty reasons. We just do it.

        Citation needed. Also, define "fun."

        My experience and research says "fun" is an inadequate descriptor of the motivations that lead to violence, murder, and even rape. "Curiosity" would be the closest to "fun" I have heard, but most violent acts (especially murder) have a reason far removed from mere entertainment.

        Interesting fact: The greatest common factor of those on death row in the US? Blackouts. Not "propensity to hunt for fun", but blackouts. Also associated with traumatic brain injury, noted by

    • Re:Not at all (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @06:55PM (#51347167) Homepage

      No, and nor are we some enlightened animal so far removed from barbarism that it's unthinkable.

      What people fail to understand is this kind of stuff has always been with humanity, and 'civilization' is a relatively new and thin veneer over humanity.

      Why people think this was an invention which came much later is beyond me, we started as animals, and in all the important ways, we still are animals.

      But then people act all surprised and think war and violence was a modern invention ... our limbic system says we directly evolved from things with not much more advanced impulses than a lizard ... eat, survive, fuck.

      It's an intrinsic property, and when push comes to shove, we'll revert back to it pretty quickly. Having higher brain functions doesn't mean those other things have gone away.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What people fail to understand

        `People' don't "fail to understand." They're taught the wrong understanding.

        "Violence never solves anything." "Violence begets violence". "Thou shalt not kill." Pablum we feed each other from birth.

        Why people think this was an invention which came much later is beyond me

        It's really remarkable such a simple concept has escaped you. Have you been under a rock somewhere? Our world is governed by people that are convinced violence is the exclusive fault of greedy capitalist, white Christians and their military industrial complex. But for them the world would be a big happy ro

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Utter bullshit. "We're told our ancestors are all vegan" - you say, linking to a Scientific American article that says, in short, "most human ancestors ate more vegetables than meat".

          And the idea that violence is bad actually underpins both Christianity and capitalism. They're both, by intent, designed as ways to reduce conflict. And to an extent, they've both been successful in that aim - at some levels, at some times, and within some scopes - but not without unintended side effects.

          If you've been hearing

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Capitalism is a means of acquiring power. By pooling resources, it becomes possible to do things that an individual could not do on his/her own.

            One of the most common applications of power is to control, suppress, or exterminate those whose presence or existence are inconvenient.

            I don't see anything in there that could imply reduced conflict unless you mean the "reduced conflict" you get from slaves and the dead.

            Or are you one of those who think that Capitalism = Free Market?

            A truly free market discourages

            • Yours is a typical anticapitalistic mentality. You identify "pooling resources" and can't see that it implies "reduced conflict."

              Capitalism is the protection of rights viewed from an economic perspective.

              The term "capitalism" was coined by Karl Marx as a sly libel, implying that money is the sole motivator of the whole system.

              • By your definition, jihadis banding together to create ISIS "reduces conflict". Most of us are looking at a larger world. A group of investors is only one company, not the entirety of either the market, civilization, or the world.

                Nor is "Capitalism" a libel. It's a scientifically accurate description of a particular way of setting up an endeavor - usually, but not always a business. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being a Capitalist - I've raised capital myself to the advantage of myself and my fellow

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If anything, I think we're _less_ violent in present times than in past history. The terrorist bombings we see, historically speaking, are a joke. Try living under the constant fear of your neighbour state sending in tens of thousands or more to kill/enslave/torture/rape/etc the population. Or on a smaller scale the superstitious religions burning people at the stake. People walking around with daggers and swords as a matter of common practice.

      • What people fail to understand is...

        Which people?

        Why people think this...

        Which people?

        But then people act...

        I'm not sure who these people are that you keep talking about?

        It's an intrinsic property, and when push comes to shove, we'll revert back to it pretty quickly. Having higher brain functions doesn't mean those other things have gone away.

        All our higher brain function does is make us better at it. Don't think for one moment that any other species wouldn't do the same if only they knew how.

        • "What people fail to understand is..."

          Which people?

          Well, let's start with anthropologists (this is in the second link):

          The origins of warfare are controversial: whether the capacity for organised violence occurs deep in the evolutionary history of our species, or is a symptom of the idea of ownership that came with the settling of land and agriculture.

          Who apparently, in some cases, believe we created warfare as a social construct.

          "Why people think this..."

          Which people?

          And then we move into FAR too many mode

          • My entire premise is that civilization and evolution are very thin buffers between being what we actually are: smart animals whose capacity for violence is neither new, nor is it gone.

            I'm not saying anything new or revolutionary. We're not even fucking disagreeing. But don't act like I'm making up some fucking straw man argument to tear down.

            Ok we're on the same page then. I might've had a few beers before posting that last post. Apologies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Why people think this was an invention which came much later is beyond me, we started as animals, and in all the important ways, we still are animals.

        I'll explain why people think that given that I've taken the trouble of reading some books, rather than just ranting on Slashdot about other people's stupidity.

        The accepted idea, which this paper tries to overthrow, is that until the beginning of agriculture there wasn't much of a reason to fight. Human densities were quite low and food was available. As such, if one group tried, for whatever reason, to take the territory of another, it was easier just to flee than to risk confrontation. That is the reason

      • The point of this article is not that it is amazing to find that people in the mesolithic waged war - it would be surprising if they didn't, as you pint out. The interesting thing is that we have found fossils that most likely are the remains of such a war - it may allow us to study what they did, what weapons were used etc. Just like when we found fossilised remains of raptor nests - we knew they must have existed in some form, but now we have data instead of speculations.

    • We didn't invent it. We just worked real hard to do it the best, at least here on Earth.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      War!! :P

  • Who would have guessed? I must have all started with Adam and Eve apple...

    • They got what they deserved. Clearly God was on the side of the winners, and if history is any indication he likely ordered his people to kill the others.
      • God was an ass. He's omnipotent, isn't he? Then why the fuck did he put the bloody tree right there?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          According to the dominant themes of the gnostic heresies, God didn't put the tree there...He was just not powerful enough to remove it. He didn't actually create life, just matter, and uses it as a prison to keep us trapped and suffering in his insanity. But since he isn't all-powerful (that's just a lie he uses to convince us to worship him), he couldn't prevent an embodiment of wisdom from giving us a way out: knowledge.

          The serpent was a messenger of wisdom, the woman was the first to attain gnosis (kno

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by JillElf ( 1896776 )

            The degree to which any of this was interpreted as metaphor varied from gnostic sect to gnostic sect. The Quakers were pretty literal about it, to the point of refusing to breed because doing so was an indulgence in the corruption of matter. That's why they aren't around any more.

            >

            The Shakers, not Quakers, practiced abstinence. Not a good long-term plan if you want to keep your sect going.

          • Cool story, bro.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Earth is only 6000 years old. How could there possibly be war prior the Earth existing!

    • by sycodon ( 149926 )

      No different than Chicago or DC.

  • by Major Blud ( 789630 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @05:59PM (#51346777) Homepage

    But it was aliens using obsidian tipped arrows and clubs to cover up the fallout from a failed genetic experiment....

    • Why not do like god? Don't like the outcome, just flush it.

    • What's the point of an obsidian-tipped club? :D

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        What's the point of an obsidian-tipped club? :D

        Consistency. You dont get to fly 100,000 light years to fuck around with the genes on an alien planet unless at least some of you are completely OCD.

  • by Lluc ( 703772 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @06:01PM (#51346797)
    The title is pretty honest: this is early evidence of war. I agree that we likely cannot observe too many battlegrounds 10,000 years later. The annoying thing about these reporting on this article is that it makes it sound like humans invented war 10,000 years ago! A human 10,000 years ago is virtually identical to us today, so why would we expect them any less capable or motivated to commit mass murder than someone today?
    • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @06:39PM (#51347047)
      We've observed war-like behavior in other primates [wiley.com], so it's likely that it predates homo sapiens entirely and is something carried over from our genetic past. A lot of other animals are territorial as well. If other species were capable of developing complex tools, they would probably use them for fighting as well.
      • by mikael ( 484 )

        If cows sense a threat to their calves they will approach the threat, knock it over and jump on it until that threat has gone.

        http://www.independent.co.uk/n... [independent.co.uk]

        The next time you see them grazing peacefully in a sunny green field, just remember they are probably plotting to take over the world.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @07:22PM (#51347333)

      why would we expect them any less capable or motivated to commit mass murder than someone today?

      My guess is that this was neither war nor mass murder. More like an armed gang plundering a village, same as the Vikings raiding England.

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        It's also possible that those killed were a migrant group and were viewed as unwanted competition or invaders.

        That obsidian isn't normally found in the area is not conclusive that the killers were "foreigners" -- could be they traded for it, or fetched it themselves.

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )
      Moreoever, as the intro alluded to, chimpanzees have also been observed going to war [wikipedia.org] with neighboring troupes. Since both species do it, and we are closer related to each other than to any other species on earth, its a pretty good bet that our common ancestor [wikipedia.org] was engaging in warfare 5 to 12 million years ago. Finding it a mere 10,000 years ago is an interesting data point, but really neither particularly impressive nor exicting.
    • by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @08:19PM (#51347611)

      The title is pretty honest: this is early evidence of war. I agree that we likely cannot observe too many battlegrounds 10,000 years later. The annoying thing about these reporting on this article is that it makes it sound like humans invented war 10,000 years ago! A human 10,000 years ago is virtually identical to us today, so why would we expect them any less capable or motivated to commit mass murder than someone today?

      War seems to be a consequence of population density. The bigger populations get and the scarcer the resources are, the more you are likely to get war. That makes sense since long as there is plenty of land to hunt in and humans are thin on the ground like they were in Europe up to ~25.000 years ago why would I go to war with the first group of people I have run into in six months when I can settle in the uninhabited valley across the ridge be friends with the neighbours and swap single men/women with them (i.e. arrange marriages)? This is one reason why the theory that Modern Humans and Neanderthals lived in Europe side by side for 15.000 to (possibly up to) 25.000 years, never interacted in a significant way and that two teenagers from either group never did what horny teenagers do with the resulting pregnancies, pair-bonding and hybrid offspring. There is hardly a shred of evidence for warfare in Europe, for example, until the Neolithic and the Copper/Bronze-age when warfare (well mostly raiding) really starts to become fairly common. This is not to say that war is unknown in low density populations. there is always some witchdoctor with a claim that is conjuring up evil spirits and sending them over to make your tribe's kids sick (or something) resulting in a massacre but that seems to be quite rare as long as population density is small. There are some examples of Neanderthal, Heidelbergensis and proto-modern human skeletons with cut marks on them that are quite old but that could just as easily be evidence of ritual cannibalism or ritual de-fleshing of the dead as it is evidence of warfare/predatory-cannibalism.

      P.S. This is not that much older than the previous oldest example (that I can remember off hand) which is Kennewick Man who died in 8.9k to 9k BP and had a spear point embedded in his hip (a would he survived by many years): https://img.washingtonpost.com... [washingtonpost.com] Just a reminder that these people were tougher than nails.

      • All wars are resource wars.

      • I think your supposition that it has to do with population density is only indirectly true.
        Does it have *something* to do with density? Sure...in a very basic sense: if it takes 3 weeks to search out and find someone to fight, yeah, not many hunter/gatherer tribes are going to have the 'leisure' to do so. And it's certainly likely that the frequency of such incidents would be directly related to the density of such groups.
        But (as it seems you were implying) is it that organized conflict is a consequence of

    • "The title is pretty honest: this is early evidence of war."

      Maybe it is because English not being my first language but I don't see this as war. War is a long winding use of violence between two parties. A premeditated violent incident between two groups when only one party knows what's going to happen is an ambush; if both of them know it, it's a battle. You usually see ambushes and battles in war times, but neither ambushes nor battles are wars on their own.

      • "The title is pretty honest: this is early evidence of war."

        Maybe it is because English not being my first language but I don't see this as war. War is a long winding use of violence between two parties. A premeditated violent incident between two groups when only one party knows what's going to happen is an ambush; if both of them know it, it's a battle. You usually see ambushes and battles in war times, but neither ambushes nor battles are wars on their own.

        English is my first language and I thought the exact same thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This can't be true. Humans were noble savages before we invented capitalism.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 21, 2016 @06:10PM (#51346863)
    ..and we haven't changed much at all in ten thousand years, either, now have we? The weapons and methods may have changed, but when it comes right down to it, the attitudes aren't all that different. We delude ourselves that this thin patina of 'civilization' means we've made it, we're not just 'intellgent' but sentient, and if E.T. came calling, we'd be ready to enter Galactic Civilization as full participating members -- but none of that is true.

    But look at the leaps and bounds we've made! What you're saying can't be true, look at the wonderful things X Y and Z have done and contributed to Humanity!

    An individual can act more evolved than the average, and entire populations of people can be just wonderful -- so long as everything is going well for them, there's no problems, and everyone has everything they want or need. But you put populations under stress? The animals that we are inside our skins comes out and you find out what we're really like.

    Nice try, Humanity. Come back in another 10000 years and we'll see if you've made any real progress.

    • by almitydave ( 2452422 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @06:20PM (#51346919)

      An individual can act more evolved than the average, and entire populations of people can be just wonderful -- so long as everything is going well for them, there's no problems, and everyone has everything they want or need. But you put populations under stress? The animals that we are inside our skins comes out and you find out what we're really like.

      Or to put it another way: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it."

      • If you want to determine the IQ of a group, take the biggest idiot and divide his IQ by the number of feet.

      • by Rinikusu ( 28164 )

        And then you have people that are just assholes. I was more than content to be left to my own devices in school, for example, but there were some fucking jocks who just couldn't let me have my peace. Macho bullshit has been around for a very long time. I don't see any reason to believe that ancient humans also had their fair share of jocked out fuckwads.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Early humans certainly faced limited access to food, water, tools, and materials for shelter. When populations increased, the amount of resources available to each person or tribe was less. It would be possible to travel farther for the resources or access resources that are more difficult to reach at a given location. However, when resources are scarce enough relative to the population, it becomes easier to simply take someone else's resources, when they do the work to gather or build them. Killing other p

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There had been blunt instrument control. Then this senseless massacre never would have happened! I blame the National Club Association and all the blunt instrument manufacturers and their lobbyists for allowing tragedies like this to continue unabated!

    • Quite the opposite! They would have needed a National Club Association, where members can hold meetings and teach each other about club wielding, club maintenance and of course club safety.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ancient people were peaceful. They did not kill innocent, feeling animals for food. They grew only wholesome, natural, organic, pesticide-free vegetables to survive. They sang and danced in front of camp fires. They were one with nature.

    They smoked pot.

    Time to legalize now!

  • This film may have gotten it right. Haven't read the short story ("The Sentinel") or book, but assume those opening scenes in the film were represented in the short story by Clarke. Apparently the book of the same title was written concurrently with the film's production and released after the film's release. For the film, the screenplay was co-written by Kubrick and Clarke.
    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      This film may have gotten it right. Haven't read the short story ("The Sentinel") or book, but assume those opening scenes in the film were represented in the short story by Clarke. Apparently the book of the same title was written concurrently with the film's production and released after the film's release. For the film, the screenplay was co-written by Kubrick and Clarke.

      It's been a long time however IIRC it is in the short story version.

  • by edittard ( 805475 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @07:00PM (#51347211)

    and other devastating wound.

    Way to go, shitdot.

  • by Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Thursday January 21, 2016 @07:07PM (#51347253)

    Did they see their enemies driven before them? Did they hear the lamentations of their women?

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      Did they see their enemies driven before them? Did they hear the lamentations of their women?

      I visited a tribe of islanders about a decade ago who told me the story behind many of the ornate carved tools and axes, that people so adored, were actually tools for cannibalism (another ism!). Ornate four pronged forks looked far more gruesome when you discovered they were made for eating human eyeballs and that odd looking hook on the back of the axe was made to hook out a portion of spine so that the quarry or victim could be kept alive and wouldn't spoil as they were eaten. Full on yikes, when you dis

      • by bazorg ( 911295 )

        That's why I never go to South London...

      • You've been to Fiji and seen the "i cula ni bokola" forks I take it. Well modern natives being hardline Christian, they're taught an exaggerated take on the brutality of their cannibal past in order to underscore how good they live now with their Christian faith. Cannibalism in Polynesia was ritualistic, done mainly after war or in the process of a ritual of high importance. You don't build an agrarian trader society (which the Polynesians were) if everyone's eating everybody they don't know.
  • Commentor [facebook.com]: War... War never changes.
    NPR [facebook.com]: Be careful out there in the Wasteland.

  • early ghetto thugs kill a family for their possessions and food

  • "This shows that two of the conditions associated with warfare among settled societies—control of territory and resources"

    Certainly plenty of wars have been fought over that, but wars have been fought over religion, or ideology, too. Wars have been fought over slavery.

    The Greek historian Thucydides pointed out that the causes of war are three: greed, fear, and ideology.

    • Four of them, including a late-term pregnant woman, appear to have had their hands bound.

      That's pretty brutal — can it be blamed on American imperialism somehow?

      The Greek historian Thucydides pointed out that the causes of war are three: greed, fear, and ideology.

      What about Faux News?

  • What really riles groups of people up, all the way to murderous rage, is the belief, right or wrong, that they are under threat -- of attack, of poaching, of losing land or cattle or water, etc. If that's correct, then warfare among hunters and gatherers would be relatively rare, while warfare among horticulturalists would be relatively common. The correlation between being predators and being warriors is essentially zero.

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