Este Blogue é um estudo da Associação Projecto Raia Alentejana e tem como objectivo a discussão da violência em geral e da guerra na Pré-História em particular. A Arqueologia da Península Ibérica tem aqui especial relevo. Esperamos cruzar dados de diferentes campos do conhecimento com destaque para a Antropologia Social. As críticas construtivas são bem vindas neste espaço, que se espera, de conhecimento.

Guerra Primitiva\Pré-Histórica
Violência interpessoal colectiva entre duas ou mais comunidades políticas distintas, com o uso de armas tendo como objectivo causar fatalidades, por um motivo colectivo sem hipótese de compensação.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The Archaeology of Warfare: Prehistories of Raiding and Conquest. Elizabeth N. Arkush and Mark W. Allen, eds., University Press of Florida, 2006


The 13 chapters in this volume are organized around a cen-
tral theme of war and the evolution of societies. Six exam-
ine aspects of prehistoric warfare in middle-range societies,
four focus on societies making the transition to statehood,
and two explore broader themes in the study of war. Uni-
formity of method is not the goal of this collected work;
thus, contributors take different approaches to exploring
the causes and consequences of war in their respective re-
gions. That said, many make use of historic, ethnographic,
or epigraphic information to enrich the interpretation of
the archaeological record, and all appeal to settlement data
to document war-related changes in intra- and intergroup
Chapters in the first section of the volume examine
the evidence for war in prehistoric tribes and chiefdoms
of North America, the Pacific, and Africa. The material
manifestations of war revealed in these studies are quite
diverse, from mesa-top pueblos of eastern Arizona (Solo-
mento) to the stone walls and causeways of Palau’s man-
grove villages (Liston and Tuggle), providing provocative
insights into how environments shape human cultural be-
havior. Douglas Bamforth’s chapter on the causes of prehis-
toric war on the northern Great Plains is the only contri-
bution that explicitly tests a warfare causation model, but
all appeal to regional settlement data to address significant
questions of cause and consequence. A nice example of a
study that addresses both questions is Mark Allen’s contri-
bution on Maori warfare, in which war is tied to archaeo-
logical indicators of population growth, intensification of
sweet potato cultivation and storage, construction of defen-
sive earthworks, and political differentiation. David Dye’s
chapter on war and complexity in Southeastern chiefdoms
adds an ideological component to the study of war: the
use of warrior imagery by aspiring chiefs to achieve polit-
ical consolidation and power. One of the more nuanced
of these studies is Chapurukha Kusimba’s examination of
historic warfare in East Africa, where folklore of the disen-
franchised provides a basis for recognizing and interpreting
subtle, war-related features in an archaeological landscape
of Kenya.
The next section of the volume explores the role of
warfare in societies making the transition to statehood in
China, Peru, and Mesoamerica. Not surprisingly, the scale
of warfare documented in these chapters is commensu-
rate with the greater capacity of state administrations to
assemble and support standing militaries. Some interest-
ing themes are explored in the context of these overviews.
Elizabeth Arkush, for example, suggests that both military
action and military ideology were pathways to state devel-
opment and expansion in highland Peru. Chapter authors
also make thoughtful use of nonarchaeological sources to
inform their archaeological inquiries. Elsa Redmond and
Charles Spencer gain insight into Zapotec warfare from
written accounts of Dominican friars and Spanish officials
that they then apply to the investigation of state origins in
Oaxaca. Inspired by lessons learned in the Vietnam War,
Samuel Connell and Jay Silverstein focus their attention on
the archaeology of conflict at state peripheries to gain a
more holistic picture of the processes of state expansion in
Mesoamerica. Finally, I was pleased to see a chapter syn-
thesizing emerging data on warfare and state origins in the
Yellow River Valley of China (Underhill), a center for pri-
mary state development less known by Western scholars.
The volume concludes with chapters by well-known
warfare scholars who espouse very different views of war in
prehistory. Steven LeBlanc, arguing for war’s ubiquity, seeks
to build a model of social transformation that addresses the
question of why war only rarely leads to increased social
complexity. The model he proposes links population pres-
sure, war, buffer zones, and human agency. Brian Ferguson
agrees with LeBlanc’s association of war and population
pressure but disputes his portrayal of the human past as one
of constant warfare. Rather, Ferguson appeals to an exten-
sive review of the paleoanthropological and archaeological
literature to argue that war has a relatively recent origin and
that it spreads, evidence against war as a biological imper-
ative. Both chapters are engaging and their juxtaposition
at the end of this volume leaves the reader with much to
ponder concerning the question of human propensity for
I strongly recommend this volume to those interested
in prehistoric and modern warfare and in social transforma-
tions. Although the coverage is not exhaustive, the studies
included in the volume examine war in a range of cultural
landscapes and illustrate a number of useful approaches
for interpreting its signatures in the archaeological record.
I particularly enjoyed contributions that linked the past
with the present and suspect that this volume will further
stimulate the development of bridging theories that seek
to explain the causes and consequences of human warfare
across time and geopolitical boundaries.

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