e-book The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory

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For example, the large pueblo at Sand Canyon in Colorado , although protected by a defensive wall , was almost entirely burned, artifacts in the rooms had been deliberately smashed, and bodies of some victims were left lying on the floors. After this catastrophe in the late thirteenth century, the pueblo was never reoccupied.

For example, at Crow Creek in South Dakota , archaeologists found a mass grave containing the remains of more than men, women, and children who had been slaughtered , scalped , and mutilated during an attack on their village a century and a half before Columbus's arrival ca.

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The Crow Creek massacre seems to have occurred just when the village's fortifications were being rebuilt. All the houses were burned, and most of the inhabitants were murdered. The survivors appear to have been primarily young women, as their skeletons are underrepresented among the bones; if so, they were probably taken away as captives. Certainly, the site was deserted for some time after the attack because the bodies evidently remained exposed to scavenging animals for a few weeks before burial.

In other words, this whole village was annihilated in a single attack and never reoccupied. Chapter 5, compares civilized soldiers with primitive warriors. Keeley observes that tactical methods by civilized soldiers were not very good and that primitive methods were actually better. Indigenous groups in many areas of the world successfully defended and defeated multiple European colonization campaigns for decades due to primitive unorthodox warfare techniques like smaller mobile units, using small arms as opposed to artillery, open formations, frequent uses of ambushes and raids, surprise attacks, destruction of infrastructure e.

European conquests were greatly helped by ecological changes like diseases, viruses, and bacteria in defeating many indigenous groups since such conditions eliminated more indigenous people than did any armed conflict.

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The defeat of the Inca and the Aztecs are examples. Sometimes, primitive groups had better military foresight than civilized counterparts. For example, when the Eipo of Highland Irian were contacted via a plane, they understood that planes could be used to bombard enemies before the Europeans. Many primitive techniques are preserved in modern times as guerrilla warfare. He makes three conclusions which the New York Times considers unexpected:.

Keeley, L. War Before Civilization—15 Years On. In The Evolution of Violence pp.

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Springer, New York, NY. The New York Times said that "the book's most dramatic payoff is its concluding explanation for the recent "pacification of the past" by scholars" [12] and that " American political scientist Eliot A. Cohen described the book as "At once scholarly and lucid, he paints a dark picture of human nature, although he does not believe humankind is doomed to a perpetual striving for mutual extinction.

Evidence of a prehistoric massacre extends the history of warfare

A sobering, grim, and important book. Brian Ferguson gave a mostly positive review but argued that Keeley overstated the commonality of ancient warfare and that aversion by academics to the existence of pre-historical warfare was misrepresented. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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When it was published, I thought my book would annoy everybody. Other than a few anthropologists whom I either ridiculed or found rather obvious mistakes in their analyses, the reception was instead surprisingly positive. Combines symbolic interpretations of archaeological remains with a medical understanding of violent acts. Written by an eminent prehistorian and a respected medical doctor. This lively and authoritative volume goes a long way to redressing the balance, giving a superb overview of the more aggressive side of life in early Europe.


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

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