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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.


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Beating ploughshares back into swords:warfare in the Linearbandkeramik - Mark Golitko & Lawrence H. Keeley∗

∗ Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1007 W. Harrison St. M/C 027 Chicago, IL
60607, USA (Email: mgolit1@uic.edu, lkeeley@uic.edu)
antiquity 81 (2007): 332–342




Armed with a number of powerful arguments, the authors invite us to face up to the evidence for violence in early Neolithic Europe. Linearbandkeramik (LBK) people first attacked the huntergatherers
they encountered and then entered a period of increasingly violent warfare against
each other, culminating in an intense struggle in the area of central and western Germany. The
building of fortifications, physical mutilation and cannibalism, while no doubt enacted with
ritual airs, nevertheless had their context and purpose in the slaughter of enemies.


Keywords: Europe, Neolithic, LBK, fortification, warfare, mutilation, cannibalism


Introduction
The prevalence of conflict or warfare between social groups in prehistory is itself a
hotly contested topic at present. Where many prehistorians note evidence for violence
in fortifications, skeletal trauma and weapons, others prefer to assign it to ritual or symbolic
practice. This intellectual thrust and parry is exemplified in the study of the earliest farming
culture of central Europe, the Linearbandkeramik (Linear Pottery or LBK) culture. Here,
evidence includes a large number of enclosed (and likely fortified) village sites, and an
abundance of burial trauma, which might suggest that violence was common and at times
abnormally intense among these early European agriculturalists. However, as in many other
regions of the world, there have been criticisms of the interpretation of this data as relating
to inter-group conflict. We broadly define warfare here as ‘armed conflict between any social
and political units’ (Keeley & Quick 2004: 110; see Keeley 1996: Chapter 1 for a more indepth
discussion).
It is our purpose to review the evidence for warfare found at LBK archaeological sites,
particularly burial trauma and the fortification of sites.We conclude that conflict was highly
prevalent, particularly at later period western sites, and, furthermore, that there is increasing
evidence to support the claim previously put forth by one of the authors (Keeley 1998) that
this conflict not only occurred between LBK communities, but also between LBK farmers
and indigenous hunter-gatherers. We wish to place this violence in its proper prehistoric
context, as to its frequency and social context at the time of the earliest appearance of
agriculture in Central Europe some 7500 years ago.

Evidence for conflict in the Linearbandkeramik
The Linearbandkeramik is perhaps the best-studied Neolithic culture in all of Europe, with
hundreds of sites having been subjected to excavation over the last century. It was initially
believed that the movement of agriculture into central Europe occurred via a process of
peaceful migration of peoples deriving from the Near East. Little was made of the fate of
indigenous hunting-gathering peoples that had previously occupied central Europe, and no
solid evidence existed to demonstrate the occurrence of violence of any kind. It has become
clear in recent years that the earlyNeolithic was in fact a much more complex and sometimes
very violent period.
While the idea of a large-scale migration into central Europe by farmers has been criticised
recently (see Whittle 1996 for instance), many researchers studying the LBK still hold that
physical migration of a substantial number of people offers the best explanation for the
sudden appearance of a radically new material culture and subsistence system between 5700
and 4900 calBC (Bogucki 2000; Gronenborn 1999; Keeley & Golitko 2004). A recent
review of radiocarbon dates shows that, in contrast to some other regions of Europe, the
Mesolithic/Neolithic transition in the LBK region was quite abrupt, with little overlap
between dates for the two traditions, though this does not rule out low levels of mixing
between populations (Gkiasta et al. 2003: 59). While regional chronologies exist, we here
accept a four-period division: the oldest phase (with expansion out of Hungary into Austria,
the Czech Republic and Slovakia, southern Poland, and eastern and central Germany), two
middle phases (expansion through the Rhine Valley into the low Countries, Alsace and the
Paris Basin, and in the east into Poland, Romania and the Ukraine), and the youngest phase
(regional diversification in already settled areas with significant population growth).


Evidence of traumatic injury
Perhaps the most obvious evidence for past conflicts is provided by the presence of certain
types of traumatic injury in burial populations. This is particularly the case if these involve
embedded projectile points or traumas indicating blunt instruments. When no healing is
evident, the trauma was the probable cause of death (Keeley 1999: 340; Keeley & Quick
2004: 110; Milner et al. 1991: 589). In addition, many other types of ‘culturally modified’
human remains that are found at archaeological sites are most plausibly explained as indirect
evidence of inter-group conflict.
There are a number of now well known LBK contexts that have demonstrated that
violence was often quite severe during the early Neolithic of Central Europe. This was first
demonstrated with the publication in 1987 of the mass grave at Talheim (in the middle
Rhine valley) (Wahl&K¨onig 1987). There, a pit containing LBK culturalmaterial (younger
to youngest phase) was found to contain the remains of 34 skeletons, comprising 16 children
and infants, 9 adult males, and 7 adult females, representing, in the opinion of the authors,
the whole population of a small LBK village. All were killed by blunt force trauma to the
head caused by LBK axes or adzes. One adult male skull had evidently been struck by
an arrow. There were no signs of resistance in the form of parry fractures (Vencl 1999:
60-61).




Figure 1. a) Enclosed LBK sites of theOldest Phase b)Older and Younger Phases c) Youngest Phase ( =Sites with V-sectioned
ditches and/or complex gates = Sites without V-sectioned ditches or complex gates, stippling indicates approximate limits
of LBK settlement).


A similar massacre occurred at the enclosed site of Schletz-Asparn, near Vienna. The
small section of ditch excavated there contained the remains of 66 individuals; almost all
had been killed with LBK axes or adzes, though an arrow had killed one individual. The
remains were fragmented and showed signs of gnawing, indicating exposure for some time
after death, and, again, the demography suggests that a full village was wiped out. The
excavators estimate that had the full ditch been excavated, upward of 300 individuals might
have been uncovered (Windl 1999a, 1999b; Teschler-Nicola et al. 1996).
At Herxheim, in the Rhine Valley, some 173 skulls and skull-pates were found within
two enclosure ditches and the interior settlement. In addition to the skulls, upwards of 334
individuals may be represented by scattered remains, while two articulated skeletons were
found sprawled out within the inner ditch. These remains contrast with a number of typical
semi-flexed burials found within the settlement area (H¨außer 2000: 82; Spatz 1998: 18).
The removal of skull-pate at the site seems to have followed a regular procedure involving
cutting and slight burning (Haidle & Orschiedt 2001: 147-153).
At Vaihingen, an enclosed LBK site near Stuttgart, a dozen individuals were deposited
within two large rubbish pits, while further scattered remains were found throughout the
site, contrasting with the typical burials dug into the enclosure ditch at a later time. Most
of these individuals appear to have been somewhat unceremoniously dumped into their
final burial context, and showed signs of various forms of injury and mutilation. Some of
the typical LBK burials in the ditch bore evidence of violence as well, with one individual
having suffered a parry fracture, and another killed by a crushing blow to the skull (Krause
et al. 1998: 93-95; 97-98).
Mutilated remains are known from many sites, for instance skull drinking cups found
in the enclosure ditch at Eilsleben, or cannibalised leg bones at the enclosed site of Ober-
H¨ogern (Kaufmann 1990: 21-22; Kneipp & B¨uttner 1988: 494-96; Spatz 1998: 13).
Remains bearing evidence of cannibalism are known from a number of sites, many of
which were enclosed (Peter-R¨ocher 1994: 104-108; V encl 1999: 64).While these instances
represent quite dramatic examples of violent death, not all are necessarily the direct result of
inter-group warfare, for instance the skull caches at Herxheim.
Were this the only evidence of skeletal trauma present at LBK sites, it would be easy
to dismiss violence as only an occasional or infrequent occurrence. However, evidence
from typical semi-flexed LBK burials points towards a more regular presence of conflict in
LBK life. In a comprehensive study, Petrasch has calculated the total percentages of LBK
individuals who suffered fromtraumatic injury at some point during their lives. Limiting his
study only to those burial populations that have been subjected to pathological examination,
he arrives at the staggering figure of almost 20 per cent. Removing the data from Talheim,
Schletz-Asparn, andHerxheim, 6.2 per cent of all known burials show evidence for traumatic
injury (Petrasch 1999: 508-509). Some of these injuries were survived; several individuals
at Talheim, for instance, bore traces of having survived traumatic head injuries, only to be
killed later in life (Wahl&K¨onig 1987: 177-78). Individuals must have engaged in repeated
violent engagements throughout their lives.
Violence was evidently more intense in the western LBK area (roughly from central
Germany westwards), the upper value being a staggering 32 per cent. This compares with
only 2 per cent of skeletons in the east having suffered injuries (Milisauskas 2002: 178).
While 2 per cent is representative of a society in which conflict is prevalent, the western
LBK is comparable to the most violent known societies, in which conflict is a constant
preoccupation (Keeley 1996: Tables 6.1 & 6.2; LeBlanc & Register 2003: 224). The arrow
wounds at Schletz-Asparn and Talheim suggest that this rate may have been even higher at
times, as upwards of 70 per cent of all arrow wounds produce no skeletal trauma (Milner
2005: 150).While Petrasch does not separate his data by gender, the under-representation of
women in the population at Schletz-Asparn (Windl 1999a: 43) may indicate that they were
taken alive, suggesting that men suffered the majority of injuries. While trauma seems to
have been most frequent in later western LBK contexts, including the material from Talheim
and Herxheim, the material recovered at Vaihingen (Flomborn phase) and Schletz-Asparn
(Notenkopf phase) indicates that violence was not unknown in earlier LBK contexts. It has
even been suggested that violence in the later western LBK was so extreme as to entail a
‘crisis’ period (Spatz 1998).


LBK enclosures: evidence for fortification
The existence of enclosed LBK settlements has been known since the early twentieth
century, with the first large-scale excavation being carried out by Buttler and Haberey at
K¨oln-Lindenthal between 1929 and 1934. While most are ditched enclosures, there are also
a number of sites that are surrounded only by palisades. These early researchers interpreted
enclosures as fortifications, but the function of these installations was questioned in later
years. A number of recent authors have been highly critical of the assignment of a defensive
function to these places. Whittle, for example, has referred to them as ‘formalized communal
space’ (Whittle 1996: 174), while in a recent textbook it is claimed that ‘not all (indeed,
perhaps very few) bandkeramik enclosures were defensive in nature . . . ’ (Scarre 2005: 411).
The denial of a defensive function has been based on a number of lines of evidence, none of
which are backed by ethnographic or historical data. While comprehensive reviews of such
sites have been published by L¨uning (1988) and H¨ockmann (1990), these are rarely cited
when it comes to making broad statements about ‘all’ such enclosures. Thus, it has been
variously argued that LBK enclosures cannot represent defensive installations because their
ditches are too shallow (in the order of one metre), enclose too small an area, have limited
evidence of internal settlement, or contain evidence of ritual activity (often cannibalism or
other skeletal manipulation). As a result, LBK enclosures have sometimes been interpreted
as cattle kraals or ritual/symbolic enclosures (Kaufmann 1997: 46).
While few researchers now support the ‘cattle kraal hypothesis’, due to the unnecessarily
large amount of labour required to construct them (Keeley&Cahen 1989: 170), many have
assigned a ritual function to them, particularly for enclosures of the type that Kaufmann
labels the ‘Langweiler type’, i.e. those that have little evidence of internal settlement
(Kaufmann 1997: 66-67). However, as demonstrated by a review of historically and ethnographically
known fortifications, none of these arguments necessarily rules out the assignment
of a basic defensive function to LBK enclosures. The Romanmilitary, for instance, dug
the perimeter ditches of their legionary camps to a depth of only c . 0.9m, though the preferred
depth for more permanent installations was over 2m, i.e. slightly deeper than a person
is tall (see Polybius & Pseudo Hyginus 1994; Josephus 1970; Grant 1974: 300; Lawrence
1979: 80-81, 309, 340-341; Keeley et al. in press). There is no particular absolute size below
which an enclosure cannot function as a fortification. In fact, smaller refuge fortifications
without substantial interior settlement may require less manpower to defend than ones
that enclose larger settlements, and are well documented historically and ethnographically
(Keeley 1996: 57-58). The presence of ‘ritual’ activity is well evidenced at enclosed LBK sites,
but the meaning of this ritual is seldom discussed. The practice of ritual at an enclosed site in
no way inherently implies a non-defensive function; the symbolic importance of a particular
location often derives from its prosaic function – if an enclosure symbolises exclusion, social
solidarity, or any of a number of other things, it often does so because it provides a real
physical deterrent against entry by outsiders (Keeley 2003: 252). Furthermore, there are
many examples of fortifications enclosing ritual areas – as these areas may be particularly
important to protect (Keeley et al. in press).
Of particular relevance to the present discussion, are several features for which only a
military function is appropriate: V- or Y-sectioned enclosure ditches, and complex forms
of gates: baffled, offset, crab-claw, labyrinthine or screened. V or Y-sectioned ditches are
impractical for any domestic purpose, as they erode more quickly than any other form and
are more difficult to dig, but they represent an ideal form for purposes of defence against
human attack, since they offer maximum exposure of any would-be attacker to defensive
projectile fire from above. By contrast, U-sectioned or flat-bottomed ditches may serve a
variety of functions (earth extraction, drainage, etc.), one of which may be defence (moats
for instance are often flat-bottomed with straight walls or U-sectioned to minimise erosion).
When backed by an internal berm and/or palisade, it is certain that a defensive purpose was
intended (Keeley et al. in press). At some Neolithic ceremonial sites in Ireland, for instance,
ring ditches with outer berms (a non-defensive arrangement likely indicative of only ritual
function) were altered during the Bronze Age to incorporate an inner berm, palisade, and
other defensive features at the same time that warfare intensified (Champion et al. 1984:
294-95).
Similarly, complex gate arrangements such as baffles or screens are counter-productive as
entrances for cattle kraals or for purposes of daily activity (making it pointlessly difficult to
enter or exit), but are known as classic defensive features at numerous sites stretching across
thousands of years of history. The primary functions of such gates are to limit the number
of attackers that may enter at once, to prevent direct use of projectile weapons against those
inside, and to force attackers to adopt a non-defensive body positioning (i.e. turned to the
side) when entering (Keeley et al. in press).
Our review of the literature indicates that there are at present 84 sites known with evidence
of enclosure that are securely dated to the LBK, six of which evidence multiple phases of
enclosure (see database at http://www.uic.edu/depts/anth/faculty/keeley).We have recorded
data on location, chronological phase, area/length excavated, ditch form, width, and depth,
number and type of gates/interruptions, presence or absence of berms and/or palisades,
settlement and wells or cisterns, available radiocarbon dates, and the presence or absence
of human remains. In some cases, data was available for only certain site features. (When
data was not available, sites were removed from the total list for purposes of computing
percentages).
The greatest number of enclosed sites date to the younger or youngest phases of the LBK,
with fewer dating tomiddle stages, and very few to the oldest LBK (47 per cent v. 41 per cent
v. 12 per cent respectively, n=78). Furthermore, the majority (62 per cent, n=84) of such
sites are found in the western portion of the LBK distribution. Seventy-five per cent (n=75)
of all known enclosures include defensive ditches. Some palisades without associated ditches
may be small enclosures best described as pens or kraals (Bedburg-Garsdorf and Zwenkau-
Harth, for instance), while others clearly enclosed a larger settlement area and included
complex defensive gate arrangements (Sittard, Elsloo, and K¨oln-Lindenthal I (palisade P),
for instance). Limited excavation makes it difficult to determine in some cases.
Fifty-nine per cent of all known enclosure ditches are V- or Y-sectioned (n=56), and
41 per cent U-sectioned or flat-bottomed. Many times, as at sites such as Darion-Colia,
Waremme-Longchamps, or Stephansposhing, ditches are shallower and U-sectioned away
from gates, and deeper and V-sectioned near gates. Limited excavation may therefore be
an issue in terms of identifying defensive features. These ditches average 2.8m wide and
1.6m deep. Given that all LBK sites have experienced some degree of erosion, typically
0.5-1m, most of these ditches would have been easily as deep or deeper than the height
of any potential early Neolithic attacker in their original form. Fifty-four per cent of all
known enclosures at which at least one gate or interruption was excavated (n=48, including
palisaded sites) possess defensive gate arrangements. Combining both lines of data, the total
number of LBK enclosed sites that possess defensive features as here defined is 51, or 70 per
cent of the total number (73) for which sufficient data are available.
Nevertheless, we do not believe that a defensive role can be ruled out for many of the
remaining ditched enclosures that display neither complex gates nor V- or Y-sectioned
ditches. Schletz-Asparn II, at which there is perhaps the most direct evidence of actual
violent conflict, possesses neither of these features, yet we strongly suspect that it was built
to deter human attack, though it tragically failed its occupants in that capacity.
The intentional enclosure of a dependable water supply in the form of wells or cisterns
is also an occasional feature (8 per cent, n=84) of LBK enclosures (Jadin & Cahen 1998:
125), further supporting their probable use as fortifications. Almost all LBK sites are located
within sight of water, usually second- or third-order streams. Only the anticipated denial
of access to adjacent streams would necessitate the labour of digging and lining wells and
cisterns to secure an internal source.


Discussion
Given the almost exact chronological and geographical correlation between prevalence of
burial trauma and the frequency of construction of enclosures with obvious defensive
purpose, such constructions must represent a material response to violence. There is
abundant ethnographic evidence indicating that fortification is a response to violence
often taken by sedentary farming groups (Keeley 1996: 56-57; LeBlanc & Register 2003:
Chapter 6). Where violence in LBK society was relatively subdued (early and in later eastern
contexts), there was a corresponding lesser need to construct fortifications. Where violence
was extremely intense, a greater need for fortification was felt (later western contexts).
There is a distinct association between enclosed sites and not only remains that can be
taken as immediate evidence of conflict (i.e. Schletz-Asparn and Vaihingen), but also with
skeletal material that has been modified in a way described by many researchers as ‘ritualistic’,
as atOber-H¨orgern,Herxheim and elsewhere.However, even if ritual practice were involved,
many researchers seem to view it as an exclusive alternative explanation to warfare: the
implication is that the victims of the violent rituals were come by via peaceful means.
However, ritual is rarely purely epi-phenomenal, but instead relates to other practices within
society (e.g. Malinowski 1961; Turner 1967), and in this case is strongly related to other
evidence for warfare. Turning again to the ethnographic record, there are a number of reasons
for resorting to such gruesome activities. Starvation or culinary cannibalism is documented,
but results in human remains that show butchery and cooking marks identical to those on
other animals consumed. This does not match the data from LBK sites. Far more common
is ‘ritual’ cannibalism, in which portions of an enemy’s body are consumed, typically
in a proscribed way as to which portions are eaten (Keeley 1996: 103-106; LeBlanc &
Register 2003: 60). Given the nature of the remains from the sites mentioned, there emerges
a pattern of consumption and manipulation of particular portions of the human body, for
instance left legs atOber-H¨orgern, or skulls and skull-pates at a number of sites. While these
were undoubtedly ‘ritual’ activities, archaeology indicates that such activities were related
to warfare, and ethnography indicates that the most likely victims of such activity were
captured enemies.
The remains from Schletz-Asparn and Talheim, as well as numerous other sites, indicate
beyond a doubt that, much of the time, these enemies came from other LBK villages.
The crushing blows to the head that killed most individuals at these sites were inflicted by
LBK-style axes and adzes. Furthermore, the researchers who studied the remains at Talheim
were able to determine that the attributes of all the skeletons present were consistent with
those individuals having belonged to an LBK population in terms of skeletal robustness,
dentition, stature and skull form (Wahl&K¨onig 1987).While the topic of causes is difficult
to address archaeologically, it is to be presumed that in a tribal agricultural society, reasons
for fighting were numerous, and motives may have included revenge for prior attacks, land
disputes, poaching, prestige, capture of slaves or capture of women (Keeley 1996: Table 8.1),
as the under-representation of young women at Schletz-Asparn likely indicates. The
intensification of such warfare seen during the latest western LBK has been linked to a
number of causes, including environmental degradation (which would not explain why
violence remained less intense in the east) or over population (Spatz 1998: 14-15).
There is also evidence, however, to justify the argument previously put forward by one of us
that at times this conflict occurred between LBK farming groups and indigenousMesolithic
peoples (Keeley 1998). While many researchers are quite content to cite ethnographic
examples of trade and acculturation between farmers and foragers (Gregg 1988: Scarre
2005: 407), this ignores an equally substantial body of ethnographic data that demonstrates
that conflict is another common form of interaction (Keeley 1996: 131-38; Keeley&Cahen
1989: 171-72). The ‘Mesolithic’ argument is based on a number of lines of archaeological
evidence.Many fortified sites cluster along the limits of LBK settlement, particularly during
the earliest phases (Keeley 1996: 137-39). The short periods of use of many fortifications
indicates that they were constructed to counter a threat that quickly disappeared, which may
have been the case if farmers at far higher settlement density quickly killed or incorporated
local hunter-gatherers living at extremely low population density. The only multi-phase
enclosure for which we have good data regarding trauma, Schletz-Asparn, demonstrates that
the second-phase ditch was built to counter the threat of other LBK communities. There
is a c . 20-25km wide ‘no-man’s land’ between LBK sites and final Mesolithic sites in the
Hesbaye region of Belgium (Keeley 1996: 139). According to LeBlanc (1999: 69) ‘that such
areas existed is an extremely strong line of evidence for warfare, because it is unlikely that people
would have given up their use of an area without a very good reason’. Kaufmann (1990: 25)
mentions the disappearance ofMesolithic sites in the vicinity of Eilsleben at the time of first
LBK settlement, as does Jochim (2000: 195-196) in south-western Germany, in the vicinity
of fortified sites such as Vaihingen. The possibility exists, though is by no means proven,
that buffer zones existed in areas other than the Hesbaye as well.
The only ‘Mesolithic’ style artefacts found at many LBK sites are projectile points, while
the only LBK artefacts typically found at Mesolithic sites are axes or adzes, for both of
which there is evidence to suggest their use as weapons (Keeley 1998: 309). Milisauskas
has previously suggested that the far higher frequency of projectile points in western LBK
assemblages as contrasted with those in the east is indicative of their use as weapons, as
there is no similar evidence to suggest that hunting was more frequently practised in one
area than another (Milisauskas 1986: 4; 143). In fact, the hunting of game declined with
time (Gronenborn 1999: 162-63), while the frequency of projectile points did not. The
frequency of projectile points is, however, correlated geographically with the frequency of
burial trauma and fortification. We would add to the previous points the recent discovery
at Vaihingen that individuals buried in rubbish pits show greater skeletal robusticity than
those recovered from formal burial contexts (Krause et al. 1998: 96), suggesting that they
belonged to a separate population, likely of hunter-gatherers. Strontium isotope analysis of
skeletons from Vaihingen has demonstrated that there are ‘non-local’ individuals present in
both settlement and ditch contexts, but it is unclear whether any of these were the same
individuals found in non-typical burial contexts (Bentley et al. 2003: 479-82).


Conclusion
The archaeological evidence, coupled with ethnographic analogy, demonstrates that warfare
was a frequent occurrence during the earlier phases of LBK expansion, while in later western
contexts its frequency seems to have been comparable to that found amongst the most violent
tribal types of society known ethnographically. Given the correlation that exists between the
level of this violence and the frequency of LBK enclosures both spatially and chronologically,
as well as the presence of defensive features in the majority of such enclosures, it is most
appropriate to speak of them as fortifications. We stress that this does not rule out the
practice of ritual at these sites, nor the use of them for secondary functions such as penning
animals. In fact, much of this ritual (skeletal manipulation and cannibalism) is probably
related to conflict. While much of this violence seems to have involved LBK communities
fighting each other, as indicated by the mass graves at Talheim and Schletz-Asparn, we argue
that a number of lines of evidence point towards conflict during early stages of settlement
with local hunter-gatherers.


Acknowledgements
Our work at the site of Waremme-Longchamps was funded by the National Science Foundation. Many thanks
to Ivan Jadin,Dominique Bosquet (Institut Royal de SciencesNaturelles de Belgique), and RussellQuick (UIC),
as well as to Martin Carver and the two anonymous reviewers who read this paper and offered helpful questions
and comments. Any remaining errors are the sole responsibility of the authors.


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