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, 29 October 2010

Journal of Conflict Archaeology

John Carman to MILITARCH

As part of the recent move to Maney publishing, the Journal of Conflict Archaeology is commencing some new features:

1. Conference reviews - reviews are welcome of conflict-themed conferences, or sessions at a conference. Conference reviews should take a similar format to that of a book review in the journal.
2. Theses in progress - if you are a postgraduate, register your thesis with the Journal.
3. Recently completed theses - if you completed your thesis or dissertation recently and wish to share your results with the conflict community, notify us.

Material for the above sections and requests for further information can be submitted to Jonathan Trigg at

Furthermore, next year the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology will be hosting a postgraduate conference highlighting ongoing research in the field of Conflict Archaeology. Further details can be obtained by contacting

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Archaeology and Warfare

Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16, 2010
Bagnani Hall, Traill College, Trent University

Bagnani Hall
Friday, October 15th, 6:15 p.m.
6:30 p.m. Welcome, Opening Remarks: Professor Thomas H.B. Symons, Founding President and Vanier Professor Emeritus, Trent University
Chair, the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. John Haldon - Computers and Medieval Logistics: the Manzikert Campaign (1071)
7:30 p.m. Reception, The Trend, Wallis Hall

Bagnani Hall
Saturday, October 16th
9:30 a.m. Coffee, The Trend, Wallis Hall
10:00 a.m. Welcome, Opening Remarks: Steven Franklin, President of Trent University

Session A New World
10:15 a.m. John Topic (Anthropology) - Terms of Engagement in Andean Warfare
10:45 a.m. Paul Healy (Anthropology) - The Ancient Maya: Evidence for Pre-Columbian Warfare
11:15 a.m. Susan Jamieson (Anthropology) - Moral Commitment and Northern Iroquoian Warfare

12:00 p.m. Lunch at The Trend, Wallis Hall

Session B Old World
2:00 p.m. Hugh Elton (Ancient History & Classics) - The Archaeology of Late Roman Warfare
2:30 p.m. Fiona Harris-Stoertz (History) - Learning to be a Warrior in the High Middle Ages
3:00 p.m. Amber Johnson ( History MA Graduate Student) - Medieval Castles
3:30 p.m. Tim Stapleton ( History) - Technology and Warfare in Sub-Saharan Africa

4:00 p.m. Bar Open in The Trend

Bagnani Hall
5:00 p.m. Keynote Speaker: Dr. Phil Sabin - Novel Techniques in the Reconstruction of Ancient Warfare
7:30 p.m. Banquet (By invitation only) The Trend, Wallis Hall
9:00 p.m. Closing Remarks Hugh Elton

Archaeology and Warfare Keynote Speakers

John Haldon, Princeton (
John Haldon is professor of Byzantine History and Hellenic Studies. His research centers on the socioeconomic, institutional, political and cultural history of the early and middle Byzantine empire from the seventh to the eleventh centuries. He also works on political systems and structures across the European and Islamic worlds from late ancient to early modern times and has explored how resources were produced, distributed and consumed, especially in warfare, during the late ancient and medieval periods. Professor Haldon is the author and co-author of more than two dozen books. His most recent books are The social history of Byzantium (Blackwell, Oxford 2008) and Byzantium in the iconoclast period: a history, with L. Brubaker (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2010). Professor Haldon is the director of the Euchaita/Avkat Project - an archaeological and historical survey in north central Turkey. As well as traditional methods of field survey and historical research, this long-term project employs cutting edge survey, mapping and digital modelling techniques to enrich our understanding of the society, economy, land use, demography, paleo-environmental history and resources of the late Roman, Byzantine and Seljuk/Ottoman periods. He is also co-director of the international Medieval Logistics Project - an international project deploying Geographical Information Systems and sophisticated modelling software to analyze the logistics of East Roman, early medieval Western European and Early Islamic warfare and structures of resource allocation. (

Phil Sabin, King’s College London ( Sabin studied History and Natural Sciences at Queens’ College Cambridge, and did his PhD in the War Studies Department. He held research fellowships at Harvard University and the International Institute for
Strategic Studies. He played a leading role in establishing King’s academic partnerships with the Joint Services Command and Staff College and the Royal College of Defence Studies, as well as chairing the University of London’s Military Education Committee. He is a long-standing member of the Chief of the Air Staff’s Air Power Workshop, appears regularly on radio and television, and has lectured throughout Europe and the USA as well as further afield in countries ranging from Japan and Korea to Chile. His past research interests have included British defence planning and public opinion about defence, but his main focus now is on the analytical modelling of warfare as a dynamic strategic and tactical contest. He has used this analytical approach to study two areas in particular - the air power contests of the 20th century, and the great land battles of the ancient world. His highly innovative use of simulation and gaming techniques for the modelling of past conflicts extends also to his teaching, especially in his MA option which is detailed further on the Conflict Simulation page.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


in Odyssey's

"The written history of the world is largely a history of warfare, because the states within which we live came into existence largely through conquest, civil strife, or struggles for independence."


00 - Introduction
01 - War In Human History
02 - Stone
03 - Flesh
04 - Iron
05 - Fire
06 - Conclusion
EX - Beyond The Book


Soldiers are not as other men - that is the lesson that I have learned from a life cast among warriors.

War is wholly unlike diplomacy or politics because it must be fought by men whose values and skills are not those of politicians or diplomats. They are those of a world apart, a very ancient world, which exists in parallel with the everyday world but does not belong to it. Both worlds change over time, and the warrior world adapts in step to the civilian. It follows it, however, at a distance. The distance can never be closed, for the culture of the warrior can never be that of civilisation itself. All civilisations owe their origins to the warrior; their cultures nurture the warriors who defend them.

Ultimately, however, there is only one warrior culture. Its evolution and transformation over time and place, from man's beginnings to his arrival in the contemporary world, is the history of warfare.

The British army is tribal to an extreme degree; some of its regiments have histories which go back to the 17th century, when modern armies were only beginning to take shape from the feudal hosts of warriors whose forebears had entered western Europe during the invasion that overthrew the Roman empire.


War is not the continuation of policy by other means. The world would be a simpler place to understand if this dictum of Clausewitz's were true.

War antedates the state, diplomacy and strategy by many millennia. Warfare is almost as old as man himself, and reaches into the most secret places of the human heart, places where self dissolves rational purpose, where pride reigns, where emotion is paramount, where instinct is king. 'Man is a political animal', said Aristotle. Clausewitz, a child of Aristotle, went no further than to say that a political animal is a warmaking animal. Neither dared confront the thought that man is a thinking animal in whom the intellect directs the urge to hunt and the ability to kill.

Shaka was a perfect Clausewitzian. He designed a military system to serve and protect a particular way of life, which it did with dramatic efficiency. Zulu culture, by making warrior values paramount, by linking those values to the preservation of a cattle-herding economy, and by locking up the energies and imagination of the most dynamic members of the community in sterile military bondage until well past maturity, denied itself the chance to evolve and adapt to the world around it.

Soldiers might, however, be slaves under the law in past times, however contradictory their status seems to us today. Slavery in the modern world implies the absolute deprivation of the individual's liberty, while possession of weaponry and mastery of their use are means to an individual's liberation. We do no perceive how a man may be armed and at the same time bereft of his freedom.

Culture is as powerful a force as politics in the choice of military means, and often more likely to prevail than either political or military logic.

Once Christendom was divided by the Reformation at the precise moment when technology made cannon mobile and personal firearms reliable, inhibitions against Christian shooting at Christian were dissolved. No such factors impinged on Japan. Domestically, the Japanese, though divided by class and faction, formed a single cultural unit. Gunpowder was therefore not essential to national security, nor was it sought as a means to victory by factions opposed to each other ideologically.
In ensuring that warriors had a monopoly on swords, the Tokugawa were guaranteeing the samurai at the pinnacle of Japanese society.

War may be, among many other things, the perpetuation of culture by its own means.

Poor states which fall into war with rich states are overwhelmed and humiliated. Poor states which fight each other, or are drawn into civil war, destroy their own well-being, and even the structures which make recovery from the experience of war possible.

"The institution of human slavery was created at the dawn of the human race, and many once felt it to be an elementary fact of existence. Yet between 1788 and 1888 the institution was substansially abolished... and this demise seems, so far, to be permanent. Similarly the venerable institutions of human sacrifice, infanticide and duelling seems also to have died out or been eliminated. It could be argued that war, at least war in the developed world, is following a similar trajectory."
- John Mueller


To look forward to a future in which recourse to war has been brought under rational limitation should not lead us into the false view that there have been no limitations on warmaking in the past.

The most important limitations on warmaking, however, have always lain beyond the will or power of man to command. They belong in the realm of what the Soviet General Staff used to call 'permanently operating factors' - weather, climate, seasons, terrain, vegetation etc.

70% of the globe's surface is covered by water, most of it open sea, and most large sea battles have taken place in all but a fraction of that area. What is remarkable is how close and often the sea battle cluster in the same corner of the map. Camperdown, Copenhagen and Jutland were all fought within 300 miles of each other; Salamis, Lepanto and Navarino, the first and last separated by 2300 years in time, took place at points scarecly more than a hundred miles apart. The Armada battle, Quiberon Bay and Trafalgar were fought within a hundred miles of Longitude Five West, between Latitudes Fifty and Thirty North, a comparitively tiny patch of the globe.

In all, about 70% of the world's 60,000,000 square miles of dry land is either too high, too cold or too waterless for the conduct of military operations.

Battles not only tend to recur on sites close to each other - the 'cockpit of Europe' in northern Belgium is one such area, the 'Quadrilateral' between Mantua, Verona, Peschiera and Legnano in northern Italy another - but have frequently been fought on exactly the same spot over a very long period of history. The most arresting example is Adrianople, now Edirne, in European Turkey, where 15 battles or sieges have been recorded, the first in AD 323 and the last in July 1913.

War is always limited, not because man chooses to make it so, but because nature determines that it shall be.


Why do men fight? Did men wage war in the Stone Age, or was early man unaggressive? Men - but also women - fight, with ink and paper, very fiercely over these questions.

Observation demonstrates that animals kill members of other species but also fight among themselves; the males of some species fight to the death. It is necessary to deny all genetic connection between man and the rest of the animal world - a position now held only by strict Creationists - in order to discount the possibility that aggression may be part of man's genetic inheritance.

British anthropologists, leaders in ethnography because of the opportunities for fieldwork that the enormous extent of their empire offered, accepted the importance of the thrust of Cultural Determinism but recoiled from its intellectual imprecision; they were dissatisfied above all by the refusal of the Cultural Determinists to admit that human nature and man's material needs might be as important as freedom of choice in determining within which culture he lived.

The Aztecs who fought were warriors, not soldiers; that is to say, they expected and were expected to fight because of the place they held in the social order, not because of obligation or for pay.

We date 'history' from the moment when man began to write or, more precisely, from when he lefy traces of what we can recognise as writing. Such traces, left by the people of Sumer, in what is now Iraq, have been dated to about 3100 BC.

"He still retained all the faculties that civilization has blunted - rapid action and highly trained senses of sight and hearing, physical toughness in an extreme degree, a detailed, precise knowledge of the qualities and habits of game, and great skill in using with the greatest effect the rudimentary weapons available."
- Brueil & Lautier, "The Men of the Old Stone Age"

These, of course, are the qualities of the warrior across the ages, which modern military training schools of Special Forces seek to re-implant in their pupils at the cost of much time and money. Modern soldiers learn to hunt to live.

At the beginning of the New Stone Age, some 10000 years ago, there occured 'a revolution in weapons technology... four staggeringly powerful new weapons make their appearance... the bow, the sling, the dagger and the mace'.
Even in its simple form the bow transformed the relationship of man with the animal world. He no longer had to close to arm's length to dispatch his prey, pitting at the last moment flesh against flesh, life against life. In that departure ethologists like Lorenz and Audrey perceive the opening of a new moral dimension in man's relations with the rest of creation but also with his own kind.

Neither 'raiding' nor 'routing' is a true act of warfare. Each subsists below the military horizon and is better thought of as multiple murder than as an episode in a campaign.
The hunting men of the New Stone Age were no more than primitive warriors, members of groups without a distinguishable military class and without a 'modern' concept of warfare. Fight they no doubt did, ambush, raid and perhaps 'rout' as well; but organise themselves for conquest and occupation they almost certainly did not.

In a still largely empty world, homo sapiens was devoting his energies to colonisation rather than conflict.

Hunters and gatherers may have 'territory'; pastoralists have grazing and watering-places; agriculturalists have land. Once man invests expectations of a regular return on his seasonal efforts in a particular place - lambing, herding, planting, reaping - he rapidly develops the sense of rights and ownership. Toward those who trespass on the places where he invests his time and effort he must equally rapidly develop the hostility of the user and occupier for the usurper and interloper. Fixed expectations make for fixed responses. Pastoralism, and agriculture even more so, make for war.

After the excavation of Jericho it was clear that warfare at least - for what could be the point of walls, towers and moats without a purposeful, well-organised and strongly armed enemy? - had begun to trouble man long before the first great empires arose.


A stronghold is a place not merely of safety from attack but also of active defence, a centre where the defenders are secure from surprise or superior numbers, and also a base from which they may sally forth to hold predators at bay and to impose military control over the area in which their interests lie. A refuge is a place of short-term safety, of value only against an enemy who lacks the means to linger in the vicinity or who operates a crude strategy of raiding against soft targets.

One of the fascinations of Jericho is that its builders, in the dawn of fortification practice, appear to have perceived all the dangers by which it might be threatened and to have furnished it with protection against each.
To these three defensive features - walls, moat, tower - fortification engineers were to add little in the 8000 years between the building of Jericho and the introduction of gunpowder.


The modern thoroughbred is a force to be reckoned with, and the great thoroughbred may end his days more famous than most statesmen of his lifetime. The greatest of thoroughbreds may acquire regal and dynastic status.
A great horse, in a sense, becomes a king. It is not surprising that kings were made by the first great horses.

The horse that homo sapiens first knew was a poor thing; so poor indeed, that man hunted it for food. Equus, the ancestor of equus caballus, our modern horse, was actually hunted out of existence in the Americas by the Amerindians who crossed into the New World at the end of the last ice age.
Stone Age man choose to eat the horse rather than drive or ride it because the animal they knew was almost certainly not strong enough in the back to bear an adult male human, while men themselves had not yet designed a vehcile to which a draught animal might be harnessed.

Why should charioteers, or the pastoralists from whom they directly or indirectly descended, have been more warlike than their hunting ancestors or agricultural neighbours? The answers requires a consideration of factors not for the squeamish, all having to do with how man has killed - or not killed - fellow mammals.
The farmer lacks skill both as a butcher of slaughtered meat and as a killer of young, nimble animals likely to evade his lethal intentions. Primitive hunters, though no doubt excellent butchers, were probably no more skilled in the techniques of the kill; their preoccupations were rather with tracking and cornering their prey rather than with the precise method by which they struck the fatal blow.
Pastoralists, on the other hand, learn how to kill, and to select for killing, as a matter of course... it was flock management, as much as slaughter and butchery, which made the pastoralists so cold-bloodedly adept at confronting the sedentary agriculturalists of the civilised lands in battle.

They knew how to break a flock up into manageable sections, how to cut off a line of retreat by circling to a flank, how to compress scattered beasts into a compact mass, how to isolate flock-leaders, how to dominate superior numbers by threat and menace, how to kill the chosen few while leaving the mass inert and subject to control. All pastoralists' methods of battle described at later dates in history disclose just such a pattern.

Quite as much as the charioteers' equipment and their familiarity with animals, their ability to move and readiness to do so fitted them for aggressive warmaking. All war requires movement, but for settled peoples even short-range moves impose difficulties. The farmer is harder than the artisan - but even he is soft compared to the nomad. The nomad is constantly on the move, eats and drinks when he can, braves all weathers, is grateful for small mercies. Everything he possesses can be bundled up at a moment's notice and his food moves with him, as grass and water call his flocks, whenever he shifts camp.

The ancient nomads of the arid steppe, where tribe had to compete against tribe for what scraps of grazing there were, must have been among the toughest people in creation.

As the apogee of its effectiveness, the chariot was overtaken in importance by a single element in the chariot system, the horse itself... by the 8th century BC selective breeding had produced a horse that Assyrians could ride from the forward seat, with their weight over the shoulders, and a sufficient mutuality had developed between steed and rider for the man to use a bow while in motion.

The fall of the Assyrian empire was due to the irruption, at the end of the 7th century BC, of a horse people known to us as the Scythians.

What is the steppe? To those who live in settled and temperate lands, the steppe means the enormous expanse of empty space that fills the map between the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Himalayas to the south, between the irrigated river valleys of China to the east and the barriers of the Pripet marshes and Carpathian mountains to the west. On the civilised man's mental map, it appears as not only featureless but climatically undifferentiated, a zone of sparse and uniform vegetation, without mountains, rivers, lakes or forests, a sort of waterless ocean without known voyagers.

"Man's greatest good fortune is to chase and defeat his enemy, seize his total possessions, leave his married women weeping and wailing, ride his gelding and use the bodies of his women as a nightshirt and support"
- Genghis Khan

The horse and human ruthlessness together thus transformed war, making if for the first time 'a thing in itself'. We can thenceforth speak of 'militarism', as aspect of societies in which there mere ability to make war, readily and profitably, becomes a reason for doing so. Yet militarism is a concept that cannot be applied to any horse people, since it presumes the existence of an army as an institution dominant over but separate from other social institutions.

Mongol sexuality was strict: adultery was punished by the death of both parties, and the taking of captive women was also disfavoured. This code eliminated quarrels over wife stealing so characteristic, and disruptive, of primitive societies. The Mongols, and Genghis Khan in particular, were nevertheless quick to take offence and brutal in taking revenge on outsiders; indeed, Genghis's life is largely a history of revenge-taking, and Mongol warfare mayb be viewed as an extension of the primitive urge to vengeance on an enormous scale.

The tools of warmaking already at Genghis's disposal - the horse warrior's mobility, the long range lethality of the composite bow, the do or die ethos of the ghazi, the social elan of exclusive tribalism - were formidable enough. When to those ingredients was added a pitiless paganism, untroubled by any of the monotheistic or Buddhist concerns with mercy to strangers or with personal perfection, it is not surprising that Genghis and the Mongols acquired a reputation for invincibility. Their minds as well as their weapons were agents of terror, and the terror they spread remains a memory to this day.

Arabs stood out among military peoples because they demonstrated an ability to transform not merely themselves but warfare itself. There had been military revolutions before, notably those brought by the chariot and cavalry horse. The Greeks had evolved the technique of the pitched battle, fought to the death on foot. The Arabs transfused warfare with a new force altogether, the force of an idea.
Their new religion, Islam, was a creed of conflict, that taught the necessity of submission to its revealed teachings and the right of its believers to take arms against those that opposed them. It was Islam that inspired the Arab conquests.
Though the Greeks took pride in their freedom and despised the subjects of Xerxes and Darius for their lack of it, their hatred of Persia was at root nationalistic.


Bodyguards, regulars, feudatories, mercenaries, military colonists, conscripts, self militias, remnants of warrior tribes from the steppe - can we impose any order on this medley? What theories explain the variety?

Military sociologists take as their premise the proposition that any system of military organisation expresses the social order from which it springs - and that this holds true even when the bulk of the population is held in thrall by an alien military hierarchy, of the sort that dominated Norman England or Manchu China, for example.

The most elaborate of these theories is the work of Anglo-Polish sociologist Stanislav Andreski who is the best known for having suggested the existence of a Military Participation Ratio (MPR) by which, when other factors are taken into account, the degree to which a society is militarised may be measured.

Unfortunately, Professor Andreski's work is not 'accessible' - now, alas, an adjective of contempt in the academic world, where 'accessibility' is confused with shallowness - to the general reader, since he invented an elaborate vocabulary of new-coined words to define his terms.
Though he clearly prefers to live in a society with a low MPR, where the armed forces are subject to the rule of law, he is refreshingly free of the delusion that military dictatorships can be abolished by writing articles in journals of political science.

Our survey of military history so far reveals six main forms that military organisation may take: warrior, mercenary, slave, regular, conscript, and militia. The warrior group includes such groups as the samurai and the Western knightly class. Mercenaries are those who sell military service for money, grants of land, admission to citizenship or preferential treatment. Regulars are mercenaries who already enjoy citizenship or its equivalent but choose military service as a means of subsistence; in affluent states, regular service may take on some of the attributes of a profession. The militia principle lays the duty of performing military service on all fit male citizens; failure or refusal to do duty usually entails loss of citizenship. Conscription is a tax levied upon a male resident's time at a certain age of life, though to citizens payment of such a tax is also usually represented as a civic duty; selective conscription, especially if for long periods of service to an unrepresentative government - 20 years was the term in Russia before the emancipation of the serfs - is difficult to differentiate from the slave system.

It is a central element of the contract between ruler and regulars that they are fed, housed and paid in peace as well as war. Rich states with an efficient taxing power may succeed in doing so for long periods; if militarily over-ambitious they may nevertheless overtax their inhabitants, while it is frequently the case that the attempt to reduce the size of an expanded regular force at the end of a long war drives it to mutiny, as the Irish Free State found in 1923.

Conscription is for rich states which offer rights - or at least the appearance of rights - to all. The first state to meet those conditions in full was the First French Republic. In France the benefit was citizenship to all who served.

In the long run, the establishment of universal conscription in the advanced states of continental Europe was matched by the extension of the vote, though for parliaments generally less responsible than those of Anglo-Saxon countries, and by processes that had no direct and visible connection.


Stone, bronze and the horse - the principal means through which war was waged in the era when states where being established and when they were being assaulted by warrior peoples living beyond the settled zone - were by nature limied limited resources, though in different ways.

Given the extreme brevity of time in which attack could be made effective in the Greek farming world - and at least 80% of those we call 'citizens' of the city states were countrymen and not town dwellers - and given also that the attackers left their own fields vulnerable to spoilation when they marched off campaigning, the highest premium was placed, or placed itself, in settling matters as quickly and decisively as possible.
The 'idea' of military decision thus planted itself in the Greek mind beside those other ideas of decision - by majority in politics, of outcome by the inevitability of plot in drama, of conclusion by logic in intellectual work - which we associate with our Greek heritage.

The values of the Roman professional soldier were those by which his fellows in the modern age continue to live: pride in a distinctive (and distinctively masculine) way of life, concern to enjoy the good opinion of comrades, satisfaction in the largely symbolic tokens of professional success, hope of promotion, expectation of a comfortable and honourable retirement.


Stone, bronze and iron furnished the instruments of combat, which is the central act of warfare, from its beginnings until its nature was transformed by gunpowder a mere 20 generations ago. Combat may only be joined, however, if the combatants find the means to meet on a battlefield, and to supply them on their way to such meetings presented difficulties second only to those of achieving success in combat itself. The horse peoples alone escaped such difficulties.

Experience, borne out by modern field trials, has established that the soldier's load cannot on average be made to exceed 70 pounds' weight - of which clothes, equipment, arms and necessaries will form at least half; as a daily intake of solid food by a man doing heavy work weighs at least 3 pounds, it follows that a marching soldier cannot carry supplies for more than 10 or 11 days. These figures have not varied over centuries.

Moving at 20 miles a day, the very best speed to be achieved with regularity by men on foot - it was that of the legions of on the Roman internal lines of communication and of Von Kluck's army on the advance from Mons to the Marne in the French campaign of 1914.

The atomic bomb was the culmination of a process of technological development begun 500 years earlier, which sought to transfer demand for the energy needed for military purposes from the muscles of man and beast to a stored source. The search had begun with the discovery of gunpowder.


The modern frontiers of Europe are, indeed, largely the outcome of fortress-building, by which existing linguistic and the new, post-Reformation religious boundaries were teased and chivvied into neatness.

Even when a state possessed the means to identify its fit young males amd their place of work or residence, as by 1914 all European states did, the best police force could not have sufficed to bring an entire age group to barracks if they resisted and if society at large supported their resistance.
By 1914 an entirely unprecedented cultural mood was dominating European society, one which accepted the riht of the state to demand and the duty of every fit, male individual to render military service, which perceived in the performance of military service a necessary training in civic virtue and which rejected the age-old social distinction between the warrior - a man set apart whether by rank or no rank at all - and the rest, as an outdated prejudice.

The United States, least militarised of Western societies at mid-century, was the first to discover the danger of that movement. Plunged into civil war in 1861, neither North or South expected a long conflict.
Eventually the South was to assemble nearly 1,000,000 men under arms, the North 2,000,000 out of a pre-war population of 32,000,000; a military participation ratio of 10%, which these figures represented, is, as we have seen, about the maximum a society can tolerate while continuing to function at normal levels of efficiency.

By April 1865, when the North's strangulation of the South at last achieved its result, 620,000 Americans had died as a direct result of the war, more than the total number killed in the two world wars, Korea and Vietnam.
The emotional aftermath of the war innoculated several generations of Americans against the false romanticism of uniforms and training camps.

Perhaps the most powerful sentiment that supplied popular consent to militarisation was the thrill of the process itself. The proclamation of egalitarianism had provided the French Revolution was one of its headiest appeals. That appeal had been rooted in the identification of equality with arms bearing and had launched into the European consciousness the idea that to serve as a soldier made a man more not less of a citizen.

"Paradoxial as it may sound, escape from freedom was often a real liberation, especially among young men living under rapidly changing conditions, who had not yet been able to assume fully adult roles."
- William McNeill

This judgement implies that there was a measure of infantilism in Europe's enthusiastic espousal of militaristic tendencies, and that may well be: 'infantlism' and 'infantry' have the same root. If so, it was the infantilism of a thinking child. Clever men and responsible governments found wordy arguments to justify themselves.

'Every man a soldier', the philosophy which underlay conscription politics, rested on a fundamental misunderstanding of the potentiality of human nature.
Warrior peoples might have made every man a soldier, but they had taken care to fight only on terms that avoided direct or sustained conflict with the enemy, admitted disengagement and retreat as permissible and reasonable responses to determined resistance; made no fetish of hopeless courage, and took careful measure of the utility of violence. The Greeks had shown a bolder front; but, while inventing the institution of face-to-face battle, they had not pushed their ethic of warmaking to the point of demanding Clausewitzian overthrow as its necessary outcome. Their European descendants had limited the objects of their warmaking also, the Romans to that of consolidating but then chiefly assuring a defensible frontier for the civilisation - quintessentially the Chinese military philosophy also - while the Romans' successors had fought, incessantly though they did, chiefly for enjoyment of rights within quite closely circumscribed territories. In a different form, battles for rights had also characterised the wars of states in the gunpowder age.

In none of these contests, moreover, had the combatants yielded to the delusion that the whole male population must be mobilized to presecute the quarrel. No pre-1789 society considered soldiering a calling for any but the few. War was rightly seen as too brutal a business for any except those bred to it by social position or driven to enlist by lack of any social position whatsoever.
The exclusion of the industrious, the skilled, the learned and the modestly propertied from military service reflected a sensible appreciation of how war's nature bore on human nature.


The whirlwind victory of the forces sent to punish Iraq and deprive it of its illegal sequestration of territory, achieved without the infliction of civilian casualties and authorised throughout by United Nations resolution, was the first genuine triumph of just war morality since Grotious had defined its guiding principles at the height of the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century.

Man has a potentiality for violence; that cannot be denied, even if we concede that it is a minority, rather than a majority, in any society that is likely to carry potentiality into effect. Man has learned, over the course of 4000 years in which organised armies have existed, to identify in that minority those who will make soldiers, to train and equip them, to supply the funds they need for their support, and to endorse and applaud their behaviour at those times when the majority feel at threat. We must go further: a world without armies - disciplined, obedient and law abiding armies - would be uninhabitable. Armies of that quality are an instrument but also a mark of civilisationm and without their existence manking would have to reconcile itself either to live at primitive level, below the 'military horizon', or to a lawless chaos of masses warring, Hobbesian fashion, 'all against all'.

The civilised societies in which we best like to live are governed by law, which means that they are policed, and policing is a form of coercion. In our acceptance of policing we silently concede that man has a darker side to his nature which must be constrained by fear or superior force. Punishment is the sanction against those who will not be constrained and superior force is its instrument.

The Western way of warfare was to carry all before it in the years after Clausewitz died. During the 19th century all Asian peoples, with the exceptions of the Chinese, Japanese and Thais and the subjects of the Ottoman Turks, came under Western rule; the primitives of the Americas, Africa and the Pacific stood no chance at all. A few people of remote and inaccessible regions - Tibet, Nepal, Ethiopia - alone proved too difficult to bring under the sway of empire, though all experienced Western invasions. During the first half of the 20th century even China succumbed, at the hands of the Westernised Japanese, while most of the Ottoman lands were overrun by Western armies also.

The triumph of the Western way of warfare was, however, delusive. Directed against other military cultures it had proved irresistible. Turned in on itself it brought disaster and threatened catastrophe.
The First World War, fought almost exclusively between European states, terminated European dominance of the world, and through the suffering it inflicted on the participant populations, corrupted what was best in their civilisation - its liberalism and hopefulness - and conferred on militarists and totalitarians the role of proclaiming the future. The future they wanted brought about the Second World War which completed the ruin initiated by the First. It also brought about the development of nuclear weapons, the logical culmination of the technological trend in the Western way of warfare, and the ultimate denial of the proposition that war was, or might be, a continutation of politics by other means.

Politics must continue, war cannot. That is not to say that the role of the warrior is over. The world community needs, more than it has ever done, skillful and disciplined warriors who are ready to put themselves at the service of its authority. Such warriors must properly be seen as the protectors of civilisation, not its enemies. The style in which they fight for civilisation - against ethnic bigots, regional warlords, ideological intransigents, common pillagers and organised international criminals - cannot derive from the Western model of warmaking alone. Future peacekeepers and peacemakers have much to learn from alternative military cultures, not only that of the Orient but of the primitive world also. There is a wisdom in the principle of intellectual restraint and even of symbolic ritual that needs to be rediscovered. There is an even greater wisdom in the denial that politics and war belong on the same continuum. Unless we insist on denying it, our future, like that of the late Easter Islanders, may belong to the men with bloodied hands.


>> In an interview with Booknotes, Keegan discussed the themes of the book and his beliefs:

"The historian ought to be an educated person, writing for other educated people about something which they don't know about, but wish to know about in a way that they can understand. "

"Are you a pacifist?"
"Ninety-five percent."
"What's the five percent?"
"There are certain wicked people in the world that you can't deal with except by force."
"The most wicked in your lifetime?"
"Hitler, without doubt. I think Hitler was seriously, seriously wicked - not mad; twisted. A lot of the Bolsheviks were simply dreadful, too: Nazi, terminist, terrible. The great men of power who seek to change the nations they belong to usually are pretty terrible people."
"That 5 percent, then, allows what?"
"It allows the use of extreme force in a measured way - if possible, in a measured way in order to curtail or extinguish the activities of these wicked men we're talking about."

"I will never oppose the Vietnam War. I thought that the Americans were right to do it. I think it was a responsible effort by the United States. I think they fought it in the wrong way, it wasn't run as a proper war. It was run with one eye on public opinion the whole time. But I think that they were right to oppose the attempts by Ho Chi Minh and Giap to make the whole of Vietnam into a Marxist society. And looking to what's happened to the country since, I still believe that it was right to try and stop them.
I wouldn't have felt it was the end of the world if the Vietnam War hadn't been fought. It's not that kind of war. I don't think it's a war like fighting Hitler, but I think it was a correct war, a right war, and it had indirect effects of the greatest importance as well. I think it demonstrated to the Russians of the Russian leadership of the last years of communism that the Americans were serious when they said that they opposed communism. And I think it, therefore, eventually contributed to the end of the Cold War and the fall of Communist regimes all over central and eastern Europe."

>> In this short article for the "Daily Times", Keegan gives an extremely brief history of warfare:

"War, historically, is a predatory affair. The more likely explanation of its origin is in the attacks made by our hunter ancestors on our other ancestors who, after retreat of the glaciers at the end of the last ice age, had begun to domesticate animals and cultivate the land. These early pastoralists and farmers made easy meat. It was only slowly that they learnt to protect themselves against the raiders who emerged without warning from the wilderness beyond the borders of the cultivated lands to pillage and slay. The first form of protection they adopted was that of fortification. When the limited value of fixed defences was recognized, they began to take the offensive to the enemy. Armies originated as counter-attack forces, funded out of the agricultural samples, which paid some of the early agricultural communities’ members to undertake specialist, perhaps full-time, duty as soldiers. By the third millennium BC, such military specialists were campaigning at long distances from cultivated land to check raiders at the borders and even carry war into their homelands.

It was to be a long step, however, between the inception of purposive warfare and the domination of human communities by specialist armed forces. Civilisation, which depends for its survival on the maintenance of law and order, within and without, is a fragile creation. Between the invention of the first regular armies in the first millennium BC and their universal adoption by the world’s advanced states only three hundred years ago, much disorder intervened. The Chinese empire, oldest and most durable of polities, underwent frequent periods of turmoil whenever its armies lost control of the border with Central Asia or of the population. Rome, which perfected the regular army in a form still influential today, succeeded in establishing stability and maintaining it for several hundred years. It did so, however, only by conducting an active defence of the frontiers as a permanent condition of the empire’s survival and, when the army eventually failed as an instrument of state, disorder broke in, to persist over wide areas of Europe for a thousand years.

In the wider world, untouched by the Roman or Chinese empires, warfare was endemic, motivated often by predation but also, as a society complexified, by quarrels over personal, family, or group prestige, territorial control, access to markets or commodities or by the need to achieve security. All these motives are discernible in the military history of the Greek world, with its passion for discord. Quarrel over rights, legal or dynastic, was a particular cause of warfare in post-Roman Europe. To these impulses to belligerence the rise of Islam, in the seventh century AD, added that of demand for religious conformity, not previously known as a military imperative. It would eventually become a major cause of conflict, as would, later still, political ideologies that claimed a similar orthodoxy.

The rise of the European maritime empires in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had the indirect effect, meanwhile, of bringing local and traditional warfare over much of Asia and Africa to an end. Whatever its injustices, imperialism brought domestic peace to Europe’s colonies and possessions. Paradoxically, it was within Europe, after a comparatively untroubled nineteenth century, that war returned to rend civilized life with intensity never before known. The First World War shook the continent’s political structure to its foundations, destroying historic dynastic states and creating circumstances in which aggressive ideologies came to rule where comparatively benevolent monarchies had done before. The Second World War, essentially a conflict of those ideologies, broke continental borders to engulf eventually almost the whole world and to carry to its far corners the most destructive military technology human ingenuity could invent, of which the atomic bomb was the ultimate development. By 1945 the many transformations through war had passed had culminated in a form of war mankind could no longer risk waging. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not simply events but warnings that warfare was now a medium of human relations that would destroy all who tried to turn it to their use."

>> More Quotes from John Keegan

Men killing other men really is an extraordinary phenomenon. Why does it happen? And how long has it gone on? And have the motives changed?

The suspicion grows that battle has already abolished itself.

Good men who exercise power are really the most fascinating of all people.

I do despise the direction that university history writing has taken, in which enormous effort and years of work are given to writing books which really only interest a few hundred others.

I don't look to find an educated person in the ranks of university graduates, necessarily. Some of the most educated people I know have never been near a university.

I've got a sort of an 18th century view of what being educated is, which is having read the major works of literature, having an understanding of the broad periods of history into which the world's past is divided, perhaps speaking another language.

Those who say if you put lawyers in charge, nothing ever happens. And that's the soldiers' view and the view of government in countries like the United States and Britain.

If they are trying to kill you, on the whole they're the people you have to kill, aren't they?

When I was at Princeton as a fellow in 1984, I became afflicted by cultural homesickness and I read the whole of Jane Austen in about two or three weeks.

>> From Declan Lynch's TV column in "The Irish Independent" during the 2003 Iraq invasion

There's no fooling John Keegan of "The Telegraph" who put up a marvellous display on Sky, speaking from the offices of the paper where he has been analysing wars since time immemorial. Keegan is a shrewd old buffer who looked like he would prefer to chow down with the chaps at Sandhurst as usual, except the bloody Telegraph dragged him away from an excellent lunch to talk to some cove on the goggle-box.
When it was put to him that he had perhaps been over-optimistic in his original prognostications, Keegan winced apparently in genuine pain at the foolishness he was hearing. He replied witheringly that the Sky cove must be getting his information from the media, from whose wretched number Keegan seems to exclude himself. Each daft new theory from the ranks of the reviled media johnnies brought the same expression of anguish to his craggy face, like an old war-wound acting up. He rubbished the suggestion that the Iraqis were putting up quite a good show. He thinks the Iraqi army is a complete load of cobblers actually, and maybe he's not wrong either.
But his finest hour came when he started referring to Iraq as Mesopotamia. It wasn't just the archaic usage which impressed, it was the fact that he did it without batting an eyelid as if no man of character or intelligence would dream of calling it anything else. But then, as Blair said to Bush a week into the war, "that's another fine Mesopotamia you've gotten me into".

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Fields of Conflict Conference 2011 in Osnabrück and Kalkriese

Dear All
Detailed information about the 6th Fields of Conflict Conference in Osnabrück and Kalkriese, 15. - 18. April 2011, is now available:
If you know anybody who might be interested in the conference, too, please forward this email.
We look forward to meeting many of you next year.


Dr. Susanne Wilbers-Rost
Leitung Abteilung Archäologie)
Varusschlacht im Osnabrücker Land GmbH
Museum und Park Kalkriese
Venner Str. 69
49565 Bramsche

Tel. +49 (0)5468/9204-11
Fax +49 (0)5468/9204-45

from John Carman in Militarch

Monday, 27 September 2010

Descoberta prova indiscutível de violência na pré-história brasileira

Fernanda Marques
in Agência Fiocruz de Notícias

A violência, que se tornou um problema social de grandes dimensões nos nossos dias, já estava presente na pré-história. Achados arqueológicos, como armas e esqueletos com lesões específicas, sustentam essa afirmação. Evidências inequívocas de violência praticada por nossos antepassados são raras, mas uma dessas provas indiscutíveis acaba de ser encontrada por pesquisadores da Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sergio Arouca (Ensp) da Fiocruz. Trata-se de um esqueleto com uma ponta de flecha encravada em uma vértebra da coluna lombar. A equipe da bioarqueóloga Andrea Lessa, do Departamento de Endemias Samuel Pessoa da Ensp, localizou esse osso no acervo do Museu do Homem do Sambaqui, em Florianópolis.

A origem do esqueleto é o sítio arqueológico da Armação do Sul (SC), cuja ocupação teve início há 2.600 anos. Este é o quinto osso com uma ponta de flecha encravada encontrado no Brasil. Os outros quatro também foram achados em Santa Catarina: dois em Joinville e dois em Florianópolis. Acredita-se que o osso localizado pelos pesquisadores da Ensp seja o mais antigo. As primeiras análises indicam que a violência foi praticada por outro grupo que vivia no litoral, e não por uma população do interior. “A ponta da flecha foi confeccionada em osso, o que era típico das populações litorâneas. Os grupos do interior produziam pontas líticas”, explica Andrea.

Em sua última ida ao Museu do Homem do Sambaqui, ela estudou cerca de 200 esqueletos ou partes de esqueletos, a maioria deles com datação próxima ao ano 1000 da nossa era. A principal linha de pesquisa da bioarqueóloga é sobre traumas agudos – acidentes e violências – em populações pré-históricas litorâneas do Brasil. O trabalho de Andrea ajuda a entender como era o cotidiano das populações antigas, sobretudo no que diz respeito à convivência e ao cotidiano.

Utilizando, basicamente, os acervos do Museu do Homem do Sambaqui e do Museu Nacional da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), ela estuda, principalmente, os povos que habitaram o litoral de Santa Catarina e do Rio de Janeiro, tanto os grupos mais recentes, de pescadores-coletores, como as populações construtoras de sambaquis – montes feitos com conchas e outros sedimentos sobre os quais as pessoas viviam. Os sambaquis existiram, mais ou menos, desde seis mil anos atrás até o ano 1000 da Era Cristã.

De modo geral, Andrea tem verificado que a freqüência de violência e acidentes entre esses povos não era alta. “Quanto aos acidentes, não existe um padrão de fratura que se repete nos esqueletos. Existem, sim, exemplares polifraturados, o que levanta a suspeita de que os episódios eram, em sua maioria, quedas durante as muitas caminhadas em terrenos acidentados, como os costões rochosos, paisagem típica dos litorais fluminense e catarinense”, diz.

Em seu mestrado e doutorado, feitos na Esnp, Andrea estudou povos que habitaram oásis no deserto do Atacama, no Chile. “A freqüência de violência entre essas populações antigas do Atacama é bem superior a que venho observando nas pesquisas sobre os grupos brasileiros dos sambaquis”, revela. A bioarqueóloga tem duas hipóteses preliminares para explicar a diferença: aspectos puramente ideológicos, que responderiam por uma forma de vida mais agressiva no deserto do Atacama, e os recursos naturais abundantes no nosso litoral.

“No Brasil, até hoje, apesar da progressiva degradação ambiental, ainda temos uma abundância de recursos. Na época dos sambaquis, certamente, a disputa por recursos naturais, sobretudo marinhos, não justificaria freqüentes embates violentos”, lembra. “No Atacama, a situação foi e é diferente. Estamos falando de um deserto, onde a escassez de água e alimento poderia ser a causa de conflitos”, argumenta

Cultural Cannibalism as a Paleoeconomic System in the European Lower Pleistocene

The Case of Level TD6 of Gran Dolina (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain)

Eudald Carbonell, Isabel Cáceres, Marina Lozano, Palmira Saladié, Jordi Rosell, Carlos Lorenzo, Josep Vallverdú, Rosa Huguet, Antoni Canals, and José María Bermúdez de Castro

Current Anthropology, 51:539–549, August 2010

Human cannibalism is currently recorded in abundant archaeological assemblages of different chronologies. The TD6 level of Gran Dolina (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos), at more than 800 ka, is the oldest case known at present. The analysis of cranial and postcranial remains of Homo antecessor has established the presence of various alterations of anthropic origin (cut marks and bone breakage) related with exploitation of carcasses. The human remains do not show a specific distribution, and they appeared mixed with lithic tools and bones of other taxa. Both nonhuman and human remains show similar evidence of butchering processes. The stratigraphic evidence and the new increment of the collection of remains of Homo antecessor have led us to identify a succession of cannibalism events in a dilated temporal sequence. These data suggest that hunting strategies and human meat consumption were frequent and habitual actions. The numerous evidences of cannibalism, the number of individuals, their age profile, and the archaeostratigraphic distribution suggest that cannibalism in TD6 was nutritional. This practice, accepted and included in their social system, is more ancient cultural cannibalism than has been known until now.

Reconstrução Digital de Batalhas em SIG OpenSource - O caso das Invasões Francesas

29 de Setembro de 2010
Auditório da Sede da Ordem dos Engenheiros
Av. António Augusto de Aguiar - 3D, Lisboa
Organização: Conselho Regional Sul do Colégio de Engenharia Geográfica

A elevada diversidade de campos do conhecimento que recorrem a Sistemas de Informação Geoespacial (SIG) para visualizar, integrar e explanar a complexidade de dados do conhecimento real de forma mais perceptível para os distintos utilizadores tem, ultimamente, contado com uma actividade menos conhecida - a reconstrução digital de batalhas. Esta aplicação e técnicas envolventes têm sido objecto de reconhecimento e fonte de inspiração para uma melhor compreensão de períodos históricos marcantes do passado, integrando e regenerando, em alguns casos, as suas fundações dos pontos de vista documental, histórico e militar.
Recentemente, e inserido nas múltiplas iniciativas desenvolvidas pela Comissão Coordenadora do Exército para as Comemorações dos 200 anos da Guerra Peninsular, foi desenvolvido um trabalho de investigação em que se procurou representar digitalmente os eventos, condicionantes, forças envolvidas e ambientes onde decorreram as principais batalhas das Invasões Francesas, incluindo os fortes das Linhas de Torres Vedras.
Com o intuito de transmitir conhecimentos e gerar a reflexão sobre estas matérias, envolvendo quer a comunidade científica, quer os utilizadores em geral, o Conselho Regional Sul do Colégio de Engenharia Geográfica promoverá, no próximo dia 29 de Setembro, um colóquio apresentado pelo Coronel Engenheiro Geógrafo Luís Nunes, subordinado ao tema "Reconstrução Digital de Batalhas em SIG OpenSource - O caso das Invasões Francesas".

Fortificação, guerra e poderes no Garb al-Andalus (dos inícios da islamização ao domínio norte-africano).

Dissertação de Doutorammanto de Fernando Branco Correia na Universidade de Évora.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Human Meat Just Another Meal for Early Europeans?

James Owen
for National Geographic News
Published August 31, 2010

Cannibalism helped meet protein needs, keep rivals in line, study suggests.

For some European cavemen, human meat wasn't a ritual delicacy or a food of last resort but an everyday meal, according to a new study of fossil bones found in Spain.

And, it seems, everyone in the area was doing it, making the discovery "the oldest example of cultural cannibalism known to date," the study says.

The 800,000-year-old butchered bones from the cave, called Gran Dolina, indicate cannibalism was rife among members of western Europe's first known human species, Homo antecessor.

The fossil bones, collected since 1994, reveal that "gastronomic cannibalism" was commonplace and habitual—both to meet nutritional needs and to kill off local competition, according to the study, published in the August issue of Current Anthropology.

(Also see "Neanderthals Turned to Cannibalism, Bone Cave Suggests.")

Cannibals Gave New Meaning to "Brain Food"

The cannibalism findings are based on leftover bones bearing telltale cut and impact marks, apparently from stone tools used to prepare the cave meals.

The butchered remains of at least 11 humans were found mixed up with those of bison, deer, wild sheep, and other animals, said study co-author José Maria Bermúdez de Castro.

As well as de-fleshing marks and evidence of bone smashing to get at the marrow inside, there are signs the victims also had their brains eaten.

Cuts and strikes on the temporal bone at the base of skull indicate decapitation, said Bermúdez de Castro, of the National Research Center on Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain.

"Probably then they cut the skull for extracting the brain," he added. "The brain is good for food."

(Related: "Druids Committed Human Sacrifice, Cannibalism?")

Human: It's What's for Dinner?

Because human and animal remains were tossed away together, the researchers speculate that cannibalism had no special ritual role linked to religious beliefs.

Nor was human meat an emergency food consumed only in lean times, Bermúdez de Castro said.

Cannibalized human bones were found in cave layers spanning a period of around a hundred thousand years, suggesting the practice was fairly consistent, according to the study.

Furthermore, the European cannibals should have had little reason for hunger.

The surrounding Sierra de Atapuerca region (regional map) would have been a "fantastic" habitat for early humans, with plenty of food and water as well as a mild climate, he said.

(See a picture of a "cannibal fork.")

Cannibals Preferred Fresh Meat?

Humans attracted to Sierra de Atapuerca would have fought over the fertile territory—and cannibalism would have been a good way of dealing with the competition, Bermúdez de Castro said.

But it might not have resulted in the fairest of fights—the 11 cannibalized individuals discovered so far were all children or adolescents.

Targeting youngsters who were less able to defend themselves "posed a lower risk for hunters" and "would have been effective in the strategy of controlling competitors," according to the study.

Cannibalism Widespread for Early Humans?

Paleontologist Silvia Bello agreed that "the distribution of [impact] and cut marks and the similarity of signs on humans and nonhuman remains make the hypothesis of cannibalism for this site likely."

The evidence that cannibalism "was a common, functional activity, not directly related to food stress or ritualistic behavior" is also convincing, said Bello, of the Natural History Museum in London.

However, she added, it's hard to be sure whether the cannibals were eating individuals from their own group or outsiders.

Anthropologist Peter Andrews also backs the team's interpretation, with caveats.

"It appears that cannibalism was widespread during much of human evolution, and it is likely that it may have been even more widespread than present evidence indicates, for some early work on [human ancestor] sites may have failed to identify the evidence for cannibalism," Andrews, formerly head of human-origins studies at the Natural History Museum, said in an email.

(See "Cannibalism Normal for Early Humans?")

Nevertheless, he added, "we still have no way of knowing whether cannibalism was habitual or restricted to periods of stress, for time scales in archaeological sites are usually not fine enough to distinguish them."

To truly be able to identify part-time vs. regular cannibalism, Andrews said, "you would need evidence on a time scale of less than one year."

Bones found in a Spanish cave show evidence of impact and cut marks.
Photograph courtesy Current Anthropology

Violent death of Bronze Age man examined by Manx Museum

Investigations into the mysterious death of a Bronze Age man are helping to paint a picture of life on the Isle of Man over 3,000 years ago.

During excavations at Ronaldsway in 2008, three burial sites and the remains of a village were unearthed.

Archaeologists found that one skeleton bore the marks of a violent death.

Allison Fox from Manx National Heritage said: "We found cut marks to his fingers, ribs and knees, as if he'd been defending himself."

He sums up what was happening at the end of the Bronze Age.

"Society was changing, climate change was occurring and there was more competition."

The human remains were first uncovered during the extension of a runway in 2008.

Field Archaeologist Andrew Johnson said: "To find bodies in such good condition is very rare.

"The area is well drained and the underlying bedrock is limestone, which means the soil is less acidic and helps with the preservation of human bone."

The site was originally excavated in the 1930s and experts say the latest finds will help to re-interpret earlier digs and gain a greater understanding of the pre-historic landscape.

Flint tools, pottery and funeral pyres were also found at the site.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 18th September 2010.

He's probably not the only one who met a rather violent end around this period

Allison Fox

Field archaeologist Andrew Johnson sheds light on the mysterious death

Friday, 10 September 2010

A History of Research on Warfare in Anthropology - Reply to Keith Otterbein.

Neil L. Whitehead
American Anthropologist 102(4):834-837

Keith Otterbein [AA 101,4] is to be congratulated for having initiated a much needed debate about the history of anthropological thinking on warfare and violence and for having provided a number of suggestions as to how we should understand the origins of such research. However, the purpose of this reply is to illustrate that there are a number of intellectual factors and some important published materials which Otterbein has overlooked and which critically affect the significance of the issues he discusses. In short his view of anthropological research on warfare is overly narrow and in particular excludes some widely read and debated works.
As a preliminary to a discussion of that research and its relevance to Otterbein=s arguments I should declare my own interest, both as a theorist alluded to by Otterbein, but also as a researcher in the anthropology of warfare since the 1980's who therefore might function, as Otterbein suggests [795], as an Ainformant@ as to the development of the field. In particular Otterbein is quite wrong to suppose that only the writing of Bruce Bower Ahas brought anthropological research on violence and war to the attention of the general public@ [794]. The volume I edited with my colleague Brian Ferguson War in the Tribal Zone has just gone to a second edition (1999) and in the new Preface we discuss in greater depth than is possible here a number of new lines of research that have opened up over the last decade as well as the impact of the Tribal Zone model in anthropology and related disciplines.
The original volume (1992) was reviewed very widely indeed and many of its central findings were communicated in both the newspaper media (see Whitehead & Ferguson 1993, Dallas Morning News - 11/29/93 , Baltimore Sun - 5/14/93, Wisconsin State Journal - 11/7/93) as well as other media forums, such as the Council for the Advancement of Science Writers. The point here being not to inflate the importance of that volume, merely to suggest that there are many more avenues between anthropology and the public than Otterbein allows. The same also may be said of the work of a number of a scholars working on violence and warfare, particularly Nancy Scheper-Hughes (1992 ), Bruce Kapferer (1988), Renato Rosaldo (1980), James Scott (1990) and Michael Taussig (1986).
In fact the work of the above scholars is but a small sample of the anthropological research on warfare and violence that Otterbein has overlooked. The practice of warfare is highly Aembedded@ in social-cultural systems and as such may permeate many other aspects of life. As a result it seems obvious that we also should be considering the literature on the cultural meaning of war and killing, as much as the materials on the political dynamics, economic consequences and sociological organization of raiding. Violence, such as head-hunting (George 1996, Hendricks 1993, Hoskins 1996, Taylor 1999) cannibalism (Basso 1995, Conklin 1995, Darling 1999, Viveiros de Castro 1992, Whitehead 1997, Zheng 1996), torture (Abler 1992, Clastres 1977, Sanday 1986), rape (Allen 1996, Das 1990) mutilation (Taylor 1999, Trexler 1995, Whitehead 1998b) and so forth, although not necessarily part of the immediate context of combat, is clearly, in the minds of its practitioners and victims, indissolubly linked to the practice of what we discern as Awarfare@ and as such a key area for the anthropological investigation of war. Moreover, such Atraditional@ forms of violence seem to be currently resurgent in various ethnic conflicts, and therefore the issues of how violence might mediate modernity and how that modernity is connected to intensifying globalization of cultural communication are themselves significant topics for study (Appadurai 1996, Geschiere 1997, Lan 1985, Strathern 1999, White 2000).
In consequence the limited notion of warfare that Otterbein employs affects the usefulness of the historical overview of anthropological research that he proposes. Certainly, any attempt at historical periodization is open to critique and although one might quibble with Otterbein=s characterization of the various periods of research in warfare I would certainly agree with his broader aim of countering Lawrence Keeley=s (1996) peculiar view of the discipline. Moreover, Otterbein=s point [794] that research on warfare reflects the wider cultural trends of the societies in which anthropology is practiced is well taken. However, Keeley is hardly the originator of a framework which counter poses Amyths@ of peaceful savagery against those of savage savagery, nor does it first appear in the nineteenth century, as Otterbein suggests [796]. Indeed, as Keeley recognizes, this ideological debate has its origins in the Enlightenment and earlier. The Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes (1656) and the Social Contract of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1976) have come to perfectly exemplify the competing frameworks through which Western cultures have viewed violence; that is as either expressive of a human propensity for a Anasty, brutish and short@ lifestyle in the context of a Awar of all men against all men@(Hobbes), or the tragedy of a lost Asavagery@ that was untutored in the arts of violent conflict before the advent of the modern (Rousseau). The way Otterbein connects anthropological research to wider public issues is quite appropriate but he fails to recognize the deep historical origins and ideological trappings to this debate. As a result Otterbein=s historical search for the origins of the Amyth of the peaceful savage@ amongst work of the 1930's to 1960's that tended to romanticize Atheir people@ [797] is misplaced - this debate is much, much older than that.
This limited historical horizon for the emergence of anthropological categories tends also to ignore the historicity of the practice of warfare itself. Otterbein discusses [797] the reports of apparently peaceful groups who nonetheless had traditions or Aembarrassing@ instances of violent behavior and suggests that an emergent Amyth of the peaceful savage@ effectively encouraged ethnographers to ignore or downplay violence amongst the peoples they studied. But rather than impugn those ethnographers perhaps we should consider whether the suppressed presence of violence was directly connected to the pacification campaigns of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This would certainly be predicted, using the Tribal Zone model, as an aspect of encapsulation, and Bodley (1990) has clearly shown the prevalence of this kind of effect on indigenous warfare and violence through his case studies of the consequences of the extension of colonial administration into the last areas of autonomous tribal territories. The apparent ambiguity of the ethnographer towards the presence or absence of warfare and violence may actually reflect the ambiguous presence of violence amongst relatively recently Apacified@ peoples. The case of the Tiwi that Otterbein [799] discusses at length seems particularly ripe for reinterpretation along these lines, as Otterbein seems to appreciate [798]. This does not mean that we can ignore issues of how anthropologists represent the people they study [797] and decisions to emphasize certain kinds of violent behaviors, or not, rather than disputes of Afact@ are surely behind the kinds of controversy that have engulfed the ethnography of certain groups, such as the Yanomamo (Whitehead 1998b).
Otterbein [798] proposes, correctly I think, that the Aecological paradigm@ for explaining warfare supplanted other kinds of rationalization of deadly violence and that the issue of Apeacefulness versus bellicosity@ was then recast as Afunctionality versus dysfunctionality@. Apart from the obvious problems of historicizing any functionalist explanation it certainly was an important advance in understanding to re-cast the debate in a way which emphasized the Aembedded@ nature of that putative functionality, or indeed dysfunctionality. In which case, rather than see attempts to historicize @primitive@ warfare as attempts to deny the reality or presence of violence [799-800], we need to appreciate that there really was a Amilitary horizon@ (Turney-High 1991:21-38) in which the forms and rituals of Western warfare became globalized through the colonial process. I have no interest in Adenying@ that other war complexes could produce a significant number of deaths, even those societies organized on a relatively small scale, but it is important to realize that ideas of total and overwhelming victory, which have been a desiredata of Western military leaderships for over 2,000 years, are the source of that disjuncture between the Western way of war and almost all other cultural practices of conflict and killing (Hanson 1989, Keegan 1993). That non-Western cultures may assimilate to, or be annihilated by, encounter with the Western way of war is the key point made in the volume War in the Tribal Zone, but this is not intended to obscure the fact that human cultural variety allows for other purposes to combat which may well be mistakenly interpreted as a hesitant militarism or even peacefulness. For all these reasons Agenocidal warfare@ [800] is indeed organizationally and ideologically the privilege of state-systems.
These lacunae in Otterbein=s argumentation thus lead to a rather inadequate account of anthropological research since 1980. The supposed recurrence of past theories [800] - innate aggression hypotheses, diffusion-acculturation models and cultural evolution - is only plausible on the basis of an inadequate characterization of the debate. While the latest version of the Akiller ape@ (Ardrey 1966) hypothesis (Wrangham & Peterson 1997) does indeed presage a return to the socio-biology of the 1970's, Otterbein has made a clear error of interpretation in his reading of War in the Tribal Zone. It is not a diffusionist hypothesis simply because it does not claim that warfare originates with colonial encounter but rather that it may be intensified and redirected to new goals. We also suggest that Western modes of warfare are themselves altered in many respects by the experience of colonial combat. In other words this is not diffusion from a center but a mimetic and dialectic process played out on the edge of expansive colonial systems, as well as within collapsing imperial regimes (Ferguson & Whitehead 1999).
By the same token Otterbein=s [801] avian metaphor to describe various authors as falling into either the camp of the AHawks@ or ADoves@ crudely erases important distinctions and overlooks other commonalities amongst these authors. For example, although John Keegan is characterized as a AHawk@ it would be fair to suggest that it was he who made the first contribution to a more culturally grounded, humanistic, account of warfare in his classic The Face of Battle (1976) which focused on the experience of combat through the eyes of ordinary soldiers. Moreover, although I am depicted as a ADove@ Otterbein might care to consult A History of Warfare (1993: xi) where Keegan generously acknowledges our extensive discussions as being important in forming his view of the anthropological literature. In short the field is more complex than Otterbein allows and those anthropological materials ignored by Otterbein do not fit easily into his scheme of historiography. Although Otterbein briefly alludes to the work of Carolyn Nordstrom and Antonius Robben (1995) he completely overlooks the wider literature on the cultural production of warfare and violence (see also Daniel 1996, Hinton 1998, Malkki 1995, van der Port 1999). Such work broadly addresses key aspects of human violence that need to be integrated with the kinds of materials Otterbein does discuss.
Cultural systems of classification and practice are key to how acts of violence are committed; for an act of violence is a cultural performance. Violent performance discursively amplifies and extends the cultural force of violent acts so that violent acts themselves can generate a shared idiom of meaning for violent death that enfold both killer and killed. As a result of this the way in which persons are killed or mutilated is not arbitrary, haphazard, or simply a function of perceived instrumentality. The manner of killing and injury may be used to delineate ethnic difference and identity, to construct ideas of sexuality, or to assert of ideas of tradition and modernity (Appadurai 1996, Bataille 1986, Kakar 1996, Tambiah 1986, Trexler 1995). Therefore, while it is evident that the cultural meanings of violent acts vary cross-culturally and historically, it is far from clear how that variation affects the representation of others, how it affects the form of violent acts, or the ways in which violence itself might define cultural practice. It is these kinds of question that much of the recent anthropological literature is interested in answering - and that literature should have been part of Otterbein=s review.
Abler, Thomas
1992 Scalping, Torture, Cannibalism and Rape: An ethnohistorical analysis of conflicting cultural values in war. Anthropologica XXXIV:3-20.
Appadurai, A.
1996 Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minnesota University Press.
Ardrey, Robert
1969 African Genesis. New York : Dell.
Basso, E.
1995 The Last Cannibals: a South American Oral History. University of Texas Press.
Bataille, G.
1986 Erotism. Death and Sensuality. San Francisco: Harbor Lights.
Bodley, John
1990 Victims of progress. Mountain View: Mayfield.
Clastres, Pierre
1977 Society Against the State. New York: Urizen Books
Conklin, B.,
1995 Cannibalism in an Amazonian society. American Ethnologist 22(1):75-101.
Daniel, E. Valentine
1996 Charred lullabies : chapters in an anthropography of violence. N.J. : Princeton University Press.
Darling, J. A.
1999 Mass Inhumation and the Execution of Witches. American Anthropologist. 100:732-52.
Das, V. (ed.)
1990 Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots and Survivors in South Asia. Oxford University Press.
Ferguson, R. B. And Neil L. Whitehead (eds.)
1999 War in the Tribal Zone. Expanding States and Indigenous Warfare. School of American Research Press: Santa Fe (2nd edition).
George, K.
1996 Showing Signs of Violence: The Cultural Politics of a Headhunting Ritual. Berkeley:
California University Press
Geschiere, P.
1997 The Modernity of Witchcraft. Politics & the Occult in Postcolonial Africa. Virginia University Press.
Hanson, Victor D.
1989 The Western Way of War. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hendricks, J.
1993 To Drink of Death: the Narrative of a Shuar Warrior. Arizona University Press.
Hinton, Alexander
1998 A Head for an Eye; Revenge in the Cambodian Genocide. American Ethnologist 25(3):353-377.
Hoskins, Janet (ed.)
1996 Headhunting and the social imagination in Southeast Asia. Stanford University Press
Hobbes, Thomas
1656 The Leviathan. London.
Kakar, S.
1996 The Colors of Violence. Cultural Identities, Religion and Conflict. Chicago University Press. Kapferer , Bruce
1988 Legends of people, myths of state : violence, intolerance, and political culture in Sri Lanka and Australia. Washington: Smithsonian Press.
Keegan, John
1976 The Face of Battle. London: Jonathan Cape.
1993 A History of Warfare. London: Hutchinson.
Keeley, Lawrence H.
1996 War before Civilization.. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lan, David
1985 Guns and Rain: guerrillas & spirit mediums in Zimbabwe. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Malkki, L.
1995 Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory and National Cosmology among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania. Chicago University Press.
Nordstrom, Carolyn and Antonius Robben (eds)
1995 Fieldwork under Fire. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Rosaldo, Renato
1980 Ilongot headhunting, 1883-1974 : a study in society and history. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques
1976 The Social Contract. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Sanday, Peggy R.
1986 Divine Hunger. Cannibalism as a Cultural System. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Scheper-Hughes., Nancy
1992 Death without weeping : the violence of everyday life in Brazil. Berkeley : University of California Press.
Scott, J.
1990 Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. Yale University Press.
Stewart, Pamela and Andrew Strathern,
1999 Feasting on My Enemy: Images of Violence and Change in the New Guinea Highlands. Ethnohistory 46(4):645-670.
Tambiah, S.
1986 Sri Lanka: Ethnic Fratricide and the Dismantling of Democracy. Chicago University Press.
Taussig, Michael
1986 Shamanism, colonialism, and the wild man : a study in terror and healing. Chicago : University of Chicago Press.
Turney-High, Harry H.
1991 Primitive War. Its practice and Concepts. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press (2nd edition).
Taylor, C.
1999 Sacrifice as Terror. The Rwandan Genocide of 1994. New York: Berg Press.
Trexler, R C.
1995 Sex and conquest : gendered violence, political order, and the European conquest of the Americas. Cornell University Press.
Van der Port, Mattijs

Vengeance is ours

Jared Diamond, Annals of Anthropology, “Vengeance Is Ours,” The New Yorker, April 21, 2008, p. 74

Revenge Killings;Vengeance;New Guinea Highlands;Papua New Guinea;Tribes;Fighting;Uncles

ABSTRACT: ANNALS OF ANTHROPOLOGY about vengeance killings among the clans of the New Guinea Highlands. Tells of a highlander whose uncle was killed in a battle against a neighboring clan and to whom responsibility for arranging revenge fell. The Papua New Guinea Highlands have been of interest to anthropologists since the 1930s, when the Australians and the Dutch discovered tribespeople living in the Highlands. Describes the origins of a particular clan war. Explains nature of a “public fight,” which is fought in the open between large groups of warriors separated by a considerable distance. It’s often impossible to tell who’s responsible for a kill. For that reason, the target of revenge is not the actually killer but the organizer, or “owner,” of the fight. The highlander explained that people in his clan are taught from early childhood to hate their enemies and to prepare themselves for a life of fighting. His first attempt at revenge was a failure, so he hired men from other villages as allies for his next attempt. Mentions intermarriage between enemy clans. In a battle, each warrior faces dozens or hundreds of enemy warriors, many of whom he’s related to, and some of whom he’s not permitted to kill. The highlander stressed the clear thinking necessary for fighting well. Eventually, a battle arranged by him succeeded in achieving revenge against the man held responsible for his uncle’s death. The highlander was unapologetic and enthusiastic about this outcome, although he himself was now, of course, a target for revenge. Fortunately for him, several years later a shift in clan enmities and alliances ended the whole cycle of revenge killings and united both clans against a common enemy, a neighboring tribe. The highlander said, “I admit that the New Guinea Highland way to solve the problem posed by a killing isn’t good…we are always in effect living on the battlefield.” Nearly all human societies today have given up the personal pursuit of justice in favor of impersonal systems operated by state governments. Without state government, war between local groups is chronic. Explains the origin of state governments. The writer describes the experiences of his late father-in-law, Jozef, who passed up the opportunity for vengeance and lived to regret it. Jozef was a Polish Jew who was captured by the Soviets in 1939 and sent to a Siberian camp before becoming an officer in a Polish division of the Red Army. In the summer of 1945, he led an armed platoon to Klaj, Poland, to discover what had happened to his mother, his sister, and his niece. There he learned that an armed gang had shot them, but when he was face-to-face with the man who led the gang, he hesitated to shoot. Instead, he delivered him to the police, who investigated the crime and then, after about a year, released the murderer. Until his death, Jozef remained tormented by regret at his failure to take vengeance. We regularly ignore the fact that the thirst for vengeance is among the strongest of human emotions. The writer’s conversations in Papua New Guinea made him understand what humans have given up by leaving justice to the state.


Fernando Quesada Sanz

El presente artículo es una versión en español del trabajo publicado en italiano en A. Emiliozzi (ed.), Carri da guerra e principi etruschi. Roma, 1997, pp. 53-59.

Del Bronce Final al Orientalizante: El carro ligero de guerra en las 'Estelas del Suroeste' (¿ ss. IX-VII a.C.?).

El carro ligero de guerra, con tiro de dos caballos sujetos a un timón central, dos ruedas de radios, caja liviana con asideros laterales, y ocupado por una o dos personas que viajan de pie, aparece en la Península Ibérica en forma de representaciones esquemáticas grabadas sobre piedra en las llamadas 'Estelas del Suroeste'. Su introducción en Iberia se asocia a los primeros contactos orientales, quizá incluso en una fase precolonial. Estos carros nada tienen que ver con vehículos de transporte de caja cuadrada, conocidos en otras representaciones rupestres (Celestino 1985,51).

Las estelas grabadas con figuras humanas, armas, carros y otros objetos, son un fenómeno característico del cuadrante suroccidental de Iberia durante las fases avanzadas del Bronce Final y comienzos del Orientalizante (c. 1.050-c. 700/650 a.C.). Como nunca se han hallado cubriendo con certeza una sepultura, se discute su función estricta de señalizaciones de tumbas, aún admitiendo su sentido funerario (Galán, 1993). De lo que no cabe duda, sin embargo, es de que dichas piedras hincadas de gran tamaño reflejaban de manera ostentosa el poder de unas élites que empleaban una serie de materiales que reflejaban su poder, su riqueza y su estatus.

Estela de Ategua

Entre los objetos representados figuran los carros, que aparecen en los tipos más complejos de estelas, aquellas que incluyen, además de una panoplia simple (espada, escudo y lanza), figuras humanas y otros elementos de guerra o de prestigio. Las estelas con carro se distribuyen desde la margen sur del Tajo hasta el Guadalquivir (Galán 1993,49,Fig.12d), por tanto no sólo en el espacio más cercano al núcleo tartésico, sino también en las agrestes sierras más al norte. Suelen fecharse en los momentos más avanzados de este fenómeno, quizá incluso en el s. VIII y la transición al VII a.C., aunque recientes descubrimientos arrojan dudas sobre el cuadro aceptado de evolución y cronología (Murillo 1994). Cabría incluso plantearse si las estelas 'de carro' figuran realmente entre las más avanzadas o si quizá puedan pertenecer a fases más antiguas. En todo caso, como las estelas carecen de contexto arqueológico externo, se han fechado sobre la base de la identificación tipológica de los objetos representados muy esquematicamente en ellas, y por ello la datación es muy tentativa y sujeta a oscilaciones.

Conocemos carros en diecisiete estelas, dentro de un catálogo que llega ya a los 92 ejemplares (frente a 7 y 24 respectivamente conocidas en 1976, cf. Powell 1976:164).

No existe apenas evidencia arqueológica del ritual funerario en este periodo, por lo que no hay otros datos que los propios grabados para valorar el tipo y significado de los carros. En todos los casos el sistema de representación es la perspectiva abatida, en lugar de la visión lateral más característica del mundo mediterráneo. Este sistema es característico tanto del ámbito escandinavo como del sahariano, por citar puntos distantes. En realidad, del estilo representacional no deben deducirse automáticamente influencias culturales directas.

El detalle de los grabados varía mucho dentro de un gran esquematismo general. Las variaciones son atribuibles más a la diferente habilidad de los artesanos y a los tipos de piedra que a variaciones de tipo de carro (Quesada 1994; Celestino 1985). Con todo, pueden observarse bastantes datos interesantes: siempre se trata de vehículos tirados por dos cuadrúpedos -con seguridad caballos y no bóvidos-; no creemos (contra Powell 1976,168) que la posición abatida de los caballos indicara su sacrificio. Nunca aparecen tiros de tres o cuatro animales, al contrario de lo que ocurría desde principios del I milenio en Oriente, Chipre o el Sahara, donde trigas y cuadrigas son frecuentes (Quesada 1994, 180). Siempre son vehículos de dos ruedas, nunca de cuatro; el único caso dudoso (Solana de Cabañas) hace tiempo que se identificó como un error del grabador (contra Blasco, 1993:164). Cuando el grabador se molestó en indicarlo, las ruedas son de cuatro radios, nunca de más, y no parece probable que haya ruedas macizas (contra Celestino, 1985:48); esto es también inhabitual, porque desde siglos antes las ruedas de seis o más radios eran las comunes en el Mediterráneo, y sólo en el Egeo perduraron las de cuatro (Quesada, 1994). La caja es siempre de frente curvo, con grandes asideros; el eje aparece siempre bajo el centro de la caja como en Grecia, no en posición trasera, y el timón es siempre una barra simple.

En conjunto, todos los detalles tipológicos visibles en estos carros se alejan del modelo del Próximo Oriente, Chipre o el Sahara, y nos llevan a relacionarlos con los carros del mundo egeo de la Edad Oscura (Quesada, 1994, contra Blázquez, 1986 que defiende un origen fenicio sin argumentar sonbre la tipología de los propios vehículos).

Remates de eje de carro. Necrópolis de La Joya (Huelva)

Los detalles visibles en los grabados de mayor calidad (por ejemplo, que el timón llegue hasta la trasera de la caja) permiten llegar a la conclusión de que al menos algunos grabadores había visto carros reales y conocían su estructura, mientras que otros copiaron modelos anteriores sin entenderlos cabalmente, convirtiendo por ejemplo los grandes asideros traseros en un segundo e inexistente par de ruedas (estela de Zarza de Montánchez), o demostrando su desconocimiento de la estructura del vehículo (Monte Blanco).

Los carros en las estelas no deben ser entendidos aisladamente, sino como parte de un conjunto significativo que incluye armas, objetos de adorno como espejos y fíbulas, e incluso instrumentos musicales de cuerda, conformando un referente iconográfico complejo de carácter aristocrático y probablemente funerario. Los objetos tienen, individualmente, paralelos tanto en el Mediterráneo como en el Bronce Final Atlántico, pero en su conjunto muestran una significativa sintonía con complejos iconográficos del ámbito mediterráneo y en particular del Egeo, como por ejemplo ocurre con la estela de Ategua (Córdoba), en su momento analizada por M. Bendala.

Por otro lado, no hay indicios de la existencia de un sistema de tipo palacial en el Suroeste de la Península Ibérica de los siglos XI-VIII a.C., capaz de mantener arsenales de carros de guerra, almacenes y talleres de reparaciones, cuadras y dotaciones entrenadas, en fin, una infraestructura que permita hablar de la presencia de un verdadero 'carro de guerra', bien como plataforma de combate (al estilo del Próximo Oriente), bien como 'taxi' de los jefes al campo de batalla (como en Micenas).

Los carros de las estelas no debieron ser sólo ideogramas de prestigio sin referente real, clichés iconográficos importados en abstracto, sino reflejo de la existencia de algunos vehículos reales -probablemente muy pocos y quizá sólo concentrados en el Sur, importados como objetos de prestigio por mercaderes orientales (contra Galán 1993, 80). Dichos vehículos no tendrían papel militar; probablemente sólo fueran ceremoniales, y comenzaran a adquirir significado como vehículos para el tránsito al Más Allá en un ambiente de heroización del aristócrata difunto, según nos muestran la ya citada estela de Ategua y otras (Bendala, Rodríguez, Nuñez 1994,66-67).

El 'Periodo Orientalizante Tartésico' (ss. VII-VI a.C.)
Durante los siglos VII-VI a.C. no conocemos representaciones de carros, pero en cambio tenemos alguna evidencia arqueológica de la existencia de vehículos de ruedas en contextos funerarios principescos. Dicha evidencia procede sobre todo de la necrópolis tartésica de La Joya (Huelva) y de algunos elementos (pasarriendas sobre todo) de bronce hallados en diversos puntos de Andalucía, lamentablemente fuera de excavaciones controladas y por tanto sin contexto arqueológico fiable. En ninguna tumba orientalizante de Iberia se han hallado, sin embargo, elementos decorativos de bronce tan completos y significativos como los que decoraban las cajas de los carros etruscos de los ss. VII-VI a.C.

El principal problema es que dichos vehículos -o al menos los de la Joya- no parecen corresponder al tipo de carro de guerra ligero egeo o próximo-oriental, sino que se trata más bien de carros funerarios para el transporte del cadáver, ricamente ornamentados con bronces, con numerosos remaches metálicos en ruedas y caja, que alcanza una longitud de 1.5 m. Se trataría por tanto de vehículos diferentes a los representados en las estelas. Quizá fueron vehículos de ceremonias de cierto uso, a juzgar por el desgaste apreciable en pasarriendas y cubos de bronce (Fernández Miranda, Olmos, 1986:90).

Rueda procedente de la necrópolis de Baza (Granada)

Por otro lado, la datación alta propuesta recientemente para la Sepultura 17 de La Joya (c. 700/650 a.C. frente a la antigua fecha del s. VI a.C., utilizando evidencia externa al propio carro, Fernández Jurado, 1988-89:226, 264 ) acerca el vehículo depositado en ella a la posible fecha de las estelas más tardías, con lo que podría suponerse una breve coexistencia en Andalucía Occidental de ambos tipos de vehículo (ligero 'de guerra' y carro funerario) en torno a la primera mitad del s. VII a.C. Con todo, dicha propuesta supone estirar en exceso los pocos datos disponibles, y acercar demasiado la cronología de las estelas con carro del Guadiana y Guadalquivir medio al mundo orientalizante de los 'príncipes' de Huelva.

Lamentablemente, el vehículo de la Joya 17 había perdido todo resto de la caja de madera, salvo algunos fragmentos que analizados resultaron ser de nogal. Con todo, sus excavadores documentaron algunos elementos de interés (Garrido, Orta 1978). El tiro era de dos o quizá de cuatro caballos, dada la aparición en la tumba de dos magníficos e inusuales bocados de bronce, y de otras cuatro posibles camas de bocado de tipo diferente, además de cuatro pasarriendas. Todos aparecieron en montón, luego no se enterraron caballos enjaezados. Las dimensiones de la caja, abierta y rectangular, se han estimado en 1.5 x 1 m., esto es, el doble que la caja de un carro de guerra ligero. Los laterales estaban decorados o reforzados con lámina de bronce y apliques calados. Contaba con dos ruedas que debieron depositarse desmontadas dado su lugar de aparición en la tumba, ya que, aunque no se conservan elementos metálicos como llantas, sí aparecen in situ los dos bocines de bronce en forma de cabeza de felino. Estas piezas tienen paralelos en el arte chipriota y oriental, pero también hay modelos similares -aunque del s. VI a.C.- en Ampurias (Gerona, Cataluña) y en S. Mariano (Perugia). Hay además muchos otros elementos ornamentales y estructurales de bronce y de hierro.

Es también posible que en la Sep. 18 de la misma necrópolis se depositara otro vehículo del que sólo quedan algunos apliques de bronce. Es significativo anotar que la tumba 17 de La Joya es una de las dos más ricas de la necrópolis, y que contenía un complejo ajuar que incluía abundante cerámica -incluyendo ánforas de vino importado, un gran quemaperfumes de bronce, jarro y fuente de bronce para libaciones, una arqueta de marfil con figuras egiptizantes, y otros muchos objetos (Garrido, Orta, 1978; Quesada e.p.).

Otros posibles restos de carro proceden de la Sep. 89 de Alcacer do Sal, en la desembocadura del río Tajo en Portugal, cerca de Lisboa, donde se hallaron elementos de remate del eje de un carro. Esta última pieza podría tambier fecharse en un momento algo más avanzado, en el s. IV a.C., al igual que los llamados 'bronces de Máquiz', elementos de adorno de un carro o de un mueble de importancia (¿lecho, trono?), y posiblemente piezas orientalizantes del s. VI a.C., aunque se haya propuesto también una datación en el s. IV a.C.

La tumba 17 de la Joya contiene también cuatro piezas de bronce, probablemente pasarriendas, de un tipo característico en Iberia, y del que se conocen muchos otros ejemplares fuera de contexto preciso pero en ambiente orientalizante. Se trata de cortos vástagos rematados en una anilla circular subdividida horizontalmente en dos, y decorada con palmetas o capullos de loto (Ferrer, Mancebo 1991).

Representación del tránsito al Mas Allá de un personaje ibérico

Particular interés tiene el hallazgo de un pasarriendas de este tipo, así como de un posible cubo o bocín para el eje, en el palacio-santuario orientalizante e ibérico de Cancho Roano (Zalamea de la Serena, Badajoz), cuyo nivel de destrucción data de fines del s. V o principios del IV a.C. pero cuyas fases iniciales se remontan al s. VIa.C. si no antes (Celestino 1994:307-309). De hecho, aunque no se hayan encontrado restos completos de carro, son muy abundantes en el último edificio ('A') otros elementos asociados con caballos, como numerosos bocados de tipos paralelizables en el mundo itálico (Maluquer 1981, pp. 324 y ss. y Láms. XXXVII ss.; 1983, pp. 51 ss.). Incluso se ha hallado un caballito de bronce de buena factura (Celestino 1991), probablemente parte de un carrito votivo de tipo ya conocido en el área extremeña (Blázquez, 1955), y que cuenta con paralelos en toda Europa, incluyendo Italia.

La presencia de tantos elementos relacionados con el carro y el caballo en el palacio-santuario de Cancho Roano prueba la pervivencia de su empleo como vehículo de prestigio, fuera del ámbito funerario, en zonas 'periféricas' al núcleo tartésico durante el Orientalizante.

El carro en la Cultura Ibérica (ss. V-II a.C.).
La tradición Orientalizante de depositar carros en algunas sepulturas principescas, perduró sólo ocasionalmente en la fase posterior, durante los siglos V-IV a.C., época de las aristocracias heroicas y guerreras de la Cultura Ibérica. Es muy escasa la evidencia de 'tumbas de carro' en este periodo, e incluso estos carros no son vehículos ligeros de guerra, sino carros más pesados, aparentemente en muchos casos vehículos de uso diario concebidos en su empleo funerario como transportes al allende.

Sólo en contadas tumbas ibéricas -no llegan a la decena- se han encontrado algunas ruedas y otros posibles elementos de carro. Estas tumbas corresponden a contextos del s. IV a.C. y proceden casi siempre de Andalucía Oriental (Bastetania), sin que se extiendan hacia el Sureste. No se conocen los ricos apliques decorados de bronce con escenas de guerra o caza o ceremonial característicos por ejemplo del mundo etrusco; tampoco hay evidencia del uso de carros ligeros de carrera del tipo documentado en Etruria.

Las ruedas de radios de época ibérica son pesadas estructuras de madera con gran cantidad de elementos de hierro forjado remachados en la zona de los radios y en el cubo (el mejor estudio en Fernández Miranda, Olmos, 1986). Cuentan con seis radios y tienen un diámetro, cuando se ha podido determinar, cercano a los 90-100 cm. (Toya) o 140 cm. (Sep. 176 de Baza).

En los antiguos carros de guerra orientales y egeos el empleo de metal en las ruedas era casi inexistente para evitar que la madera se rajara al tomar velocidad el vehículo; en los carros de guerra celtas el peso total de elementos de metal, incluyendo llantas, apenas supera los 3 Kg (Piggott 1986, 26). En las ruedas ibéricas por el contrario el componente metálico es mucho mayor; es el caso de las ruedas de Toya (Jaén) o Baza (Granada), cuyos seis radios forrados de hierro y unión reforzada a la pina de madera tienen paralelos en Italia (p. ej. Grottazzolina, Woytowitsch 1978, Taf. 58.3, s. VI a.C.). Con todo, estas elaboradas ruedas de carro de las tumbas son muy distintas a las ruedas macizas de llantas metálicas clavadas a las pinas documentadas en algunos poblados, como las dos ruedas de el Amarejo (Albacete), fechadas en el s. III a.C. (Broncano, Blánquez, 1985, 140 ss.).

Lamentablemente, las ruedas procedentes de grandes tumbas de cámara (¿principescas?) construidas en mampostería, como las de Toya (Cabré, 1925 Fig. 21) o Galera, ambas en Andalucía Oriental, carecen de un contexto arqueológico preciso que permita saber con certeza si se colocaron carros completos o sólo ruedas, y en qué parte de la tumba, o el tipo preciso de vehículo. Otras ruedas y elementos de carro carecen de contexto de tumba (Mirador de Rolando en Granada, segundo juego de ruedas de Toya, conjunto de bronce de Máquiz en Jaén) o aparecieron en sepulturas violadas o casi destruidas (Baza, Granada, Sepulturas 9 y 176). Por último, otras elementos tradicionalmente considerados como 'de carro'(Cabecico del Tesoro, Seps. 300 y 397) son muy dudosos al tratarse de simples fragmentos de remaches (contra Stary, 1989), que pueden pertenecer a cualquier objeto de madera.

Sólo en la Sep. 176 de Baza (Granada, Andalucía) se asocia una rueda a una sepultura excepcional, una de las dos tumbas más ricas de la necrópolis, asociada a varias cráteras griegas de Figuras Rojas, barniz negro ático, ánforas, armas, etc. En el caso de otra tumba de Galera (Granada, Andalucía), destruida, la presencia de una rueda se asociaba a restos de armas, incluyendo un casco de hierro.

Por el contrario, en ninguna de los muchos cientos de sepulturas de las grandes necrópolis ibéricas de los ss. V-II a.C. excavadas con rigor científico en el Sureste (Cabezo Lucero, Cabecico, Cigarralejo, Coimbra, La Serreta, Los Villares, etc.) se han hallado hasta ahora restos identificables de carro, ni siquiera en aquellas clasificadas como 'principescas' que han aportado centenares de objetos y abundante vajilla cerámica griega y de bronce (p. ej. Seps. 200 y 277 de El Cigarralejo, Murcia). En consecuencia, sólo en la Alta Andalucía parece conservarse la tradición Orientalizante; es pues doblemente de lamentar que la mayoría de las más importantes necrópolis andaluzas hayan sido documentadas en tan mal estado.

Consideramos poco afortunado pues el empleo del término 'Wagengräber' (p. ej. Stary, 1989). Sólo en muy contadas tumbas Orientalizantes (de una a cuatro) podemos hablar de tal cosa; pero en el ámbito ibérico, que es cronológicamente posterior y culturalmente diferenciado, sólo hay restos de carros en la Alta Andalucía, y no en el resto del territorio ibérico. Además, carecemos de documentación suficiente sobre la mayoría de estos casos -menos de diez- como para saber si comparten sistemáticamente las otras características normalmente asociadas a las 'tumbas de carro' (p. ej. tamaño de la tumba, vajilla de bronce, armas, etc.) y las implicaciones sociales correspondientes.

Al igual que en el caso de la tumba 17 de La Joya, la presencia de reparaciones en los radios de las ruedas de Toya (Jaén) muestra que los vahículos depositados en tumbas habían tenido previamente una utilización intensa (Fernández Miranda, Olmos, 1986, 56 y Fig. 13). Esta evidencia de uso duro, unida a la ausencia sistemática de apliques decorativos en bronce, nos hace dudar de su carácter de carros 'ceremoniales' o de 'prestigio', y nos hace pensar más bien en la deposición funeraria de carros comunes, o sólo de ruedas, para facilitar el viaje del difunto al mundo de ultratumba. Además, la casi total ausencia de evidencia iconográfica implica que en el mundo de los vivos el carro no fue desde el s. IV un símbolo ceremonial o de prestigio de especial relevancia.

En cambio, los datos arqueológicos indican claramente que los iberos emplearon a menudo el carro de dos ruedas y varales, tirado por équidos o bóvidos, como medio de transporte. Los caminos de acceso a poblados a menudo muestran, profundamente marcadas en la roca, las huellas de las rodadas de las pesadas llantas de hierro de los carros (Castellet de Bernabé o Castellar de Meca en Valencia); estas rodadas indican anchos de eje entre ruedas de en torno a 100-130 cm., mucho menores que los 150-200 cm. de los carros de guerra del Próximo Oriente. Igualmente, en algunos poblados se han hallado restos de ruedas similares a las de las tumbas, o más habitualmente de otras macizas o de reja: es el caso del Amarejo en Albacete (dos ruedas macizas, s. III a.C.), del Cerro de la Cruz en Córdoba (s. II a.C.) o Montjuich en Barcelona (ss.IV-II a.C.?).

Rodadas de carro de época ibérica en el yacimiento de Meca (Albacete)

Este carro humilde aparece reflejado en forma de pequeños exvotos tallados en piedra o fundidos en bronce en complejos religiosos, como en el Cigarralejo (Murcia) o en el santuario del Collado de los Jardines (Jaén). Indican que el sencillo vehículo de transporte era más usual que el rico vehículo de ceremonias. Se trata de vehículos de caja rectangular o triangular, con dos ruedas en un eje central, y probablemente varales. A menudo los exvotos no indican los radios de las ruedas, que así aparecen macizas.

Conviene señalar que en el santuario andaluz del Collado de los Jardines se halló también en 1916, sin contexto preciso, una pieza metálica característica correspondiente a la cubrición de un radio de rueda, lo que muestra que, además de en tumbas, se depositaron en los santuarios ruedas o carros reales y no sólo en forma de exvotos miniatura.

Con todo, algo de la vieja tradición que veía en el carro un noble vehículo de transporte al Más Allá se conservó en la mentalidad ibérica de época más tardía, como indica la curiosa pintura sobre un vaso cerámico hallado en Elche de la Sierra (Albacete), datada en el s. II a.C. (Eiroa 1986). En ella, un guerrero ibérico va a iniciar su viaje al Más Allá; parece a punto de subir a un carro, pero antes recibe de una figura femenina alada un caballo también con alas, quizá para uncirlo al carro que le llevará al mundo de ultratumba. En conjunto, una escena heroizante con caballos alados y carros, de honda raigambre mediterránea, y con buenos paralelos en Etruria; sin embargo, el carro en cuestión no es el acostumbrado vehículo ligero de guerra, sino una carreta de transporte con rueda de reja, no de radios, y caja de altos varales, más apta para transportar alfalfa que un aristócrata difunto; evidentemente, el tema se ha mantenido, pero el antiguo carro ceremonial y de guerra no era ya conocido por estos iberos del s. II a.C. La tradición ibérica tardía se había convertido en un pálido reflejo de las costumbres de los príncipes orientalizantes.

Al ámbito celtibérico de la Meseta, donde no hay datos que permitan suponer la colocación de carros o de ruedas en las sepulturas, llegaron sin embargo también ideas mediterráneas sobre el tránsito al Más Allá a bordo de vehículos. Así se plasmó en un tosco relieve modelado en arcilla sobre un pequeño friso o rebanco hallado en una vivienda (o posible santuario) del poblado celtibérico del Cerrón de Illescas (Toledo), datable a mediados del s. IV a.C. Dos carros ligeros de tipo mediterráneo avanzan a la izquierda seguidos de un grifo alado, motivos iconográficos ambos muy inusuales en este ambiente (Balmaseda, Valiente 1981).


Almagro Basch M. 1979 Los orígenes de la toreútica ibérica. Trabajos de Prehistoria 36, pp.173-211.

Balmaseda L.J.; Valiente, S. 1981 El relieve de Illescas. Archivo Español de Arqueología 54, pp. 215-238.

Bendala M., Rodríguez I., Nuñez E. 1994. Una nueva estela de guerrero tartésica de la provincia de Córdoba. Homenaje a Jose Mª Blázquez, vol. I. Madrid, pp.59-67.

Blasco M.C. 1993 El Bronce Final. Madrid.

Blázquez J.M. 1955 Los carros votivos de Mérida y Almorchón. Zephyrus 6, pp. 41-60.

Blázquez J.M. 1986 La estela de Monte Blanco, Olivenza (Badajoz) y el origen fenicio de los escudos y de los carro representados en las losas de finales de la Edad del Bronce en la Península Ibérica. Archivo Español de Arqueología 59, pp. 191-198.

Broncano S.; Blánquez J. 1985 El Amarejo (Bonete, Albacete). Excavaciones Arqueológicas en España, 139. Madrid.

Cabré Aguiló J. 1924 La rueda en la Península Ibérica. Actas y Memorias de la Sociedad Española de Antropología, Etnografía y Prehistoria, 3, pp. 71-96.

Cabre Aguiló J. 1925 Arquitectura hispánica. El sepulcro de Toya. Archivo Español de Arqueología 1, pp. 73-101.

Celestino S. 1985 Los carros y las estelas decoradas del Suroeste. Homenaje a J. Cánovas. Badajoz, pp. 45-55.

Celestino S. 1994 Los altares en forma de 'lingote chipriota' de los santuarios de Cancho Roano. Revista de Estudios Ibéricos 1, pp. 291-209.

Celestino S.; Julián J.M. 1991 El caballo de bronce de Cancho Roano. Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueología de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 18, pp. 179-188.

Cuadrado E. 1955 El carro ibérico. III Congreso Nacional de Arqueología, pp. 116-141.

Eiroa J.J. 1986 El kalathos de Elche de la Sierra (Albacete). Anales de Prehistoria y Arqueología de la Universidad de Murcia 2, pp. 73-86.

Fernández-Miranda M.; Olmos R. 1986 Las ruedas de Toya y el origen del carro en la Península Ibérica. Madrid.

Fernández Jurado J. (1988-89) Tartessos y Huelva. Huelva Arqueológica X-XI.1. Huelva.

Ferrer E.; Mancebo J. 1991 Nuevos elementos de carros orientalizantes en la Alta Andalucía. Alunas precisiones en torno a su función, significado y distribución. Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueología de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 18, pp. 113-148.

Galán E.G. 1993. Estelas, paisaje y territorio en el Bronce Final del Suroeste de la Península Ibérica. Madrid.

Garrido J.P., Orta E.M. 1978. Excavaciones en la necrópolis de 'La Joya' (Huelva).II. 3ª, 4ª y 5ª campañas. En Excavaciones Arqueológicas en España, 96. Madrid.

Maluquer de Motes J. 1981. El santuario protohistórico de Zalamea de la Serena, Badajoz. Barcelona.

Maluquer de Motes J. 1983 El Santuario protohistórico de Zalamea de la Serena, Badajoz. II, 1981-1982. Barcelona.

Murillo J.F. 1994. La estela de La Ribera Alta (Córdoba): consideraciones en torno a las estelas decoradas con escudo, espada y lanza. Anales de Arqueología Cordobesa 5, pp. 11-32.

Muzzolini A. 1988 Les chars des stèles du sud-est de la Péninsule Ibérique, les chrs desgravures rupestres du maroc et la datation des chars sahariens. Congreso Internacional del Estrecho de Gibraltar. Ceuta, 1987. Vol. I, pp. 361-387.

Pare C. 1989 From Dupljaja to Delphi: the ceremonial use of the wagon in later prehistory. Antiquity 63, pp. 80-100.

Piggott S. 1983 The earliest wheeled transport. From the Atlantic coast to the Caspian Sea. London.

Piggott S. 1986 Horse and chariot: the price of prestige. En J.G. Evans y G. Jope (coords.) Proceedings of the IIIrd International Congress of Celtic Studies, pp. 25-30.

Powell T.G.E. 1976 South western Peninsular chariot stelae. En J.V.S. Megaw (coord.) To illustrate the monuments, pp. 163-169.

Quesada, F. 1994 Datos para una filiación egea de los carros grabados en las 'Estelas del Suroeste', en Actas del V Congreso Internacional de Estelas Funerarias, Vol. I. Soria, Abril-Mayo, 1993, Soria, pp.179-187.

Quesada F. (en prensa) From quality to quantity: wealth, status and prestige in the Iberian Iron Age. En D. Bailey (ed.) Wealth, Prestige and Value. London.

Ruiz-Gálvez M., Galán E. 1991 Las estelas del Suroeste como hitos de vías ganaderas y rutas comerciales. Trabajos de Prehistoria 48, pp. 257-273.

Serra Ráfols J. de C. Carrito ibérico de bronce, del Museo de Granollers. AEspA 21, pp. 378-391.

Stary P.F. 1989 Eisenzeitliche wagengräber auf der Iberischen Halbinsel. Madrider Mitteilungen 30, pp. 151-183.

Woytowitsch E. 1978 Die Wagen der Bronze- und frühen Eisenzeit in Italien. PBF XVII.1. München.