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The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory

ISBN: 978-1-4051-1259-8
296 pages
December 2004, Wiley-Blackwell
The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory (140511259X) cover image
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.
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Preface.

Acknowledgments.

Introduction:.

Bloodshed at the Beginning of History.

War: An Ongoing Feature of Literature and Religion.

Archaeology: Tracking Down History.

War in Prehistory: From the Garrigues of Languedoc to the Temples of Malta.

Corsica: Conquered and Re-conquered.

Violence and Aggression Prior to Mankind.

Warfare: Nature or Culture?.

Exchange or Battle?.

Was There a Palaeolithic “War”?.

Ritual Warfare and War between “Great Men”.

Prehistoric Man: Neither Violent Brute nor Innocent Lamb.

The Issue of Sacrifice.

Is Prehistoric Violence “Readable”?.

2. Violence in Hunter-gatherer Society:.

Neanderthal Man and Cannibalism.

Prehistoric Cannibalism.

Suspicious Disappearances in Charente (France).

Cain’s Predecessors.

Violence in the Artwork of the Quaternary Era.

Sicily: Torture in 10,000 BC?.

From the Throwing Stick to the Bow and Arrow.

The First Bows.

Conflict in Sudan.

Coveted Land.

Conflict during the Mesolithic.

The Enemy: Mutilated and Tortured.

3. Agriculture: A Calming or Aggravating Influence?:.

The Neolithic in Europe: A Peaceful or Dangerous Conquest?.

The Talheim Massacre.

Disturbances during the Neolithic.

Fontbregoua (France): Another Case of Cannibalism?.

Cannibalistic Farmers?.

Neolithic Art, the Medium of Violence?.

Battle Scenes in the Sierras of the Spanish Levant.

Injuries and Capital Executions.

Causes for Quarrel.

Hunters and/or Farmers in Confrontation.

The Strong and the Weak.

4. Humans as Targets: 4,000-8,000 Years Ago:.

The Contrasting Geography of Violence.

A Progressive Intensification of Conflict?.

War upon the Plateaus of Southern France?.

The Difficulties of Making an Assessment.

Effective Weapons of Death.

Injury and Trepanation.

Did Collective Burial Sites Sometimes Serve as Communal Graves?.

Lessons from the San Juan Ante Portam Latinam Burial Site (Alava, Spain).

Ballistic Accuracy.

5. The Warrior: An Ideological Construction:.

The Importance of the Male.

Accompanying a Man in Death.

A Full Quiver: For Hunting, for Fighting or for Show.

Arrows and Jewels: Masculine/Feminine.

Menhir Statues: The First Armed Steles.

From Mount Bego to the Italian Alps.

Masculinity/Femininity: Reversing the Symbols.

Open Villages and Fortified Settlements.

Proto-Warriors of the West.

6. The Concept of the Hero Emerges:.

Weapons and Their Significance.

The Warrior Becomes a Feature of Barbarian Europe.

The Sword: King of Weapons.

Ramparts, Forts and Citadels.

The Orient: Chariots in Battle.

The Development of a Cavalry.

Tracing the Footsteps of Heroes.

Steles: Marking Combatants for Posterity.

Multiple Sacrifices.

Mutilated Bodies Preserved in Peat Bogs.

Conclusions.

Appendices.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Works by Jean Guilaine.

Index

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Jean Guilaine is Professor of Archeology at the Collège de France and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. He is the author of numerous books, including Prehistory: The World of Early Man (US translation 1986).


Jean Zammit is a doctor and paleopathologist at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.


Melanie Hersey is a translator specialising in the social sciences. She has studied German, French, and anthropology and received an MA in translation from Durham University.

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  • 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.

  • Examines such acts of violence as executions, massacres, torture, and ritual sacrifices.

  • Written by an eminent prehistorian and a respected medical doctor.
See More
“‘Nasty, brutish, and short’ was how Hobbes characterized human life in a state of nature, but for the last thirty years prehistorians have largely contrived to forget the nasty side. 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.” Andrew Sherratt, University of Oxford


“There are few more intriguing yet disturbing subjects than the origins of human violence. This richly detailed account provides dramatic insights into a distant and often violent world, but one that is only too familiar in its contemporary relevance. Essential reading for all who are interested in the human past.” Chris Scarre, University of Cambridge

"An intriguing and convincing account of violence and conflict in deep antiquity ... The authors have successfully produced a stimulating and thought provoking text." Archaeology Ireland

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