Unearthed Fossils Suggest Prehistoric Human Warfare

Unearthed Fossils Suggest Prehistoric Human Warfare
Please wait to be seated Marie-Lan Nguyen CC BY-SA 2.0

The oldest evidence of human warfare, comprising of a group of people murdered with weapons as far back as 10,000 years, was discovered by scientists on Wednesday. This evidence, of 27 people, was unearthed at Nataruk, which is roughly 20 miles west of Lake Turkana in Kenya.


Ten complete fossil skeletons were found to have signs of violence inflicted on them The Associated Press reported, citing Journal Nature. Of these, five or six had evidence of arrow wounds to the head or neck, and another five whose skulls seemed to be bludgeoned with a club. In one fossil, a sharp stone was still embedded in the skull.

While two skeletons did not have any evidence or sign of violence, they seemed to have been tied up as indicated by the position of their hands. One of these was either a pregnant woman or had just given birth.

Marta Mirazon Lahr, paleoanthropologist at the University of Cambridge, said that the victims were killed in a premeditated attack. “It is a brutal, physical, lethal attack with the intention to kill those individuals who could put up a defense or mount a counter-attack, or who perhaps were of no use to them, whether it was a man or a very pregnant woman, too young or too old,” Mirazón Lahr said.

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Although the exact reason for the violence hasn’t been determined, it can be suggested that the victims were attacked for territory or food, researchers said.

Of the skeletons discovered, 21 belonged to adults and six to children according to a related report from Reuters. “Whether they managed to escape, or were taken, we will never know,” Mirazon Lahr said. “At the end, all massacres are savage. How many examples do we have from our very recent, and current, history? But finding the remains of a massacre among the skeletons of hunter-gatherers of this period was totally surprising.”

The unearthed fossils “raise the question of whether warfare has been part of the human experience for much longer than previously thought,” Mirazón Lahr added.

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