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, 29 March 2011

Scientists Trace Violent Death of Iron Age Man

ScienceDaily (Mar. 28, 2011) - Science News

Scientists have examined samples of the skull of an Iron Age man using a range of sophisticated equipment including a CT scanner. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of York)

An Iron Age man whose skull and brain was unearthed during excavations at the University of York was the victim of a gruesome ritual killing, according to new research.
Scientists say that fractures and marks on the bones suggest the man, who was aged between 26 and 45, died most probably from hanging, after which he was carefully decapitated and his head was then buried on its own.
Archaeologists discovered the remains in 2008 in one of a series of Iron Age pits on the site of the University's £750 million campus expansion at Heslington East. Brain material was still in the skull which dates back around 2500 years, making it one the oldest surviving brains in Europe.
A multi-disciplinary team of scientists, including archaeologists, chemists, bio-archaeologists and neurologists, was assembled to attempt to establish how the man's brain, could have survived when all the other soft tissue had decayed leaving only the bone.
The team is also investigating details of the man's death and burial that may have contributed to the survival of what is normally highly vulnerable soft tissue. The research, which was funded by the University of York and English Heritage, is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust, commissioned by the University to carry out the exploratory dig before building work on the campus expansion started, discovered the solitary skull face-down in the pit in dark brown organic rich, soft sandy clay.
Since the discovery, the brain and skull have been kept in strictly controlled conditions, but scientists have examined samples using a range of sophisticated equipment including a CT scanner at York Hospital and mass spectrometers at the University of York.
Samples of brain material had a DNA sequence that matched sequences found only in a few individuals from Tuscany and the Near East. Carbon dating suggests the remains date from between 673-482BC.
Peri-mortem fractures on the second neck vertebrae are consistent with a traumatic spondylolisthesis and a cluster of about nine horizontal fine cut-marks made by a thin-bladed instrument, such as a knife, are visible on the frontal aspect of the centrum.
Histological studies found remnants of brain tissue structures and highly sensitive neuroimmunological techniques, together with analyses, demonstrated the presence of a range of lipids and brain specific proteins in the remains.
The scientific team is now investigating how these lipids and proteins may have combined to form the persistent material of the surviving brain and what insight this may give on the circumstances between death, the burial environment and preservation of the Heslington brain.
The team is headed by Dr Sonia O'Connor, a Research Fellow in Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford and an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the University of York. It included scientists from the Departments of Archaeology, Biology and Chemistry at York, Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford, the Biocentre and the Department of Laboratory Medicine at Manchester University and the UCL Institute of Neurology in London.
Dr O'Connor said: "It is rare to be able to suggest the cause of death for skeletonised human remains of archaeological origin. The preservation of the brain in otherwise skeletonised remains is even more astonishing but not unique."
"This is the most thorough investigation ever undertaken of a brain found in a buried skeleton and has allowed us to begin to really understand why brain can survive thousands of years after all the other soft tissues have decayed.."
Despite the place that 'trophy heads' appear to have played in Iron Age societies and evidence for the preservation of human remains in the Bronze Age, the researchers say there is no evidence for that in this case. Analyses found no biomarkers indicating deliberate preservation by embalming or smoking.
Dr O'Connor added: "The hydrated state of the brain and the lack of evidence for putrefaction suggests that burial, in the fine-grained, anoxic sediments of the pit, occurred very rapidly after death. This is a distinctive and unusual sequence of events, and could be taken as an explanation for the exceptional brain preservation."
Story Source:
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of York, via AlphaGalileo.
Journal Reference:
1.Sonia O'Connor, Esam Ali, Salim Al-Sabah, Danish Anwar, Ed Bergström, Keri A. Brown, Jo Buckberry, Stephen Buckley, Matthew Collins, John Denton. Exceptional preservation of a prehistoric human brain from Heslington, Yorkshire, UK. Journal of Archaeological Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.02.030

Thursday, 24 March 2011

War in the Tribal Zone: Expanding States and Indigenous Warfare. Edited by R. Brian Ferguson and Neil L. Whitehead. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press, 1992.

Review from American Indian Culture and Research Journal 17:2(1993):239-245.
Thomas D. Hall
DePauw University
HTML version October 26, 1998

The catchy title of this collection will grab the attention of scholars interested in Indian-White relations, but the subtitle could deter those who expect either a dry theoretical treatise or another round of quincentenary-inspired European-bashing. That would be truly unfortunate, because this collection has much to offer. Fundamentally, all the authors address the general question of the roles and consequences of warfare in contact between states and "tribal" peoples. The answer is at once simple and complex: simple because warfare increases; complex because the increase varies considerably with specific conditions of each encounter. Almost universally, the level of warfare between the invading state (almost always an invasion from the tribal perspective) and tribal peoples increases. No surprise here. Almost as universally, warfare among tribal peoples increases precipitously. Again, this is not much of a surprise. What is surprising is that this pattern holds for ancient Rome, ancient Sri Lanka, seventeenth century Africa, contemporary New Guinea, and all over North and South America. In short, what is well known for the European-Indian encounter in the Americas is in fact a generic pattern of state-tribe encounters.

This collection is a result of a conference on warfare sponsored by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation held at the School of American Research in 1989. The conference was held to focus attention on the roles of state expansion on warfare and to conceptualize the study of tribe-state warfare in ways that would encourage further research. The results are summarized in an the important first chapter by Ferguson and Whitehead and a brief set of diagrams in an appendix. These, however, are best addressed after surveying the substantive reports contained in the volume.

According to D. J. Mattingly, Berber tribal structure in North Africa during Roman times remains poorly understood. Still, transhumant peoples (those who follow a more-or-less prescribed circuits) were relatively easily to control because of predictable travel patterns. Once local elites were absorbed into the Roman world, they shed their tribal affiliations relatively easily. This kind of indirect rule was generally quite efficient. Roman policy oscillated between territorial expansion and hegemonic control of tribal peoples beyond the border (approximately between direct and indirect rule). Shifts in strategy were often determined by local considerations, such as relative costs and benefits of military expansion versus costs of tribute to buy influence, as opposed to imperial concerns of the center. Roman borders "were filters, designed to facilitate observation and supervision of movement between the territorial and hegemonic zones" (pg. 56). They were almost never used as absolute barriers. While Roman attempts to assimilate North African tribes ultimately failed (for reasons Mattingly does not discuss), Roman policy was relatively successful in the first two centuries of the Christian era.

R. Gunawardana shows that tribal peoples survived sustained conflict with ancient Sri Lankan states, yet maintained their tribal identities. Sri Lankan differences, he argues, are significantly different from European experiences with tribal peoples. He also indicates that withdrawal from a territory by tribal peoples has different motives, depending on circumstances. When a state is trying achieve hegemony over a people, withdrawal constitutes a denial of hegemony. However, when a state is seeking territorial expansion withdrawal constitutes a cessation of territory. Trade and ideology play important roles in his account. Trade can inspire warfare in attempts to seize resources, or to acquire access to them, or to control strategic transportation nodes. These correspond, approximately to plunder, hegemonic control, and territorial expansion. Plunder could take the form of material goods, unutilized tribal resources, or captives. Sometimes alliances were formed in which tribal people retained autonomy in exchange for serving as military units in the state's army, becoming in essence, "ethnic soldiers." State control often took the form of ideological, specifically, religious imperialism. This presented an especially thorny doctrinal problem for Buddhism which stressed nonviolence.

Ross Hassig compares the relations of Aztecs and Spaniards to tribal peoples. For the Aztecs the lack of wheeled vehicles slowed expansion, but did not stop it completely. Again there is an oscillation between territorial and hegemonic strategies. Expansion creates its own resistance by spreading state military technology and political organization and through a rather steep decline in effectiveness with distance. While expansion brought many useful products to the Aztecs it also stimulated a demand for Aztec "gifts." Thus, trade had impacts considerably beyond direct conquest and warfare. Here religious conflict and change was not a cause of war, but a consequence. Rather, expansion was fueled, at least in part, by specifics of Aztec social mobility through expanding marriage alliances, primarily with conquered or absorbed elites.

Spanish conquest differed considerably. Spaniards tried to monopolize new technologies (horses and guns, the latter more successfully) and were not interested in hegemony but centralized administrative control. Spanish warfare used local auxiliaries extensively and sought resources including labor of conquered peoples. They tended to displace nomadic tribal peoples who were not suitable for plantation labor, or to convert them to sedentary peasants through the efforts of religious missionaries.

Robin Law traces the complex changes in warfare in Dahomey, West Africa in the slave trade. He reviews the roles of trading inferior guns to induce dependency on Europeans, and hence a steady flow of captives for the slave trade. Even so, the introduction of guns greatly transformed warfare from mass armies to the use of armed elite forces. Warfare also led to replacement of a kin-based political system with one that was territorially based. He further notes how the slave trade created subimperialism: "While Dahomey at one level constituted a part of the West African periphery of the European-dominated trans-Atlantic trading system, it had its own periphery in the form of the neighboring peoples it raided for slaves" (pg. 124). Thus warfare and its impacts spread a great distance from the coastal points of contact.

Neil Whitehead uses the history of Northeastern South America to show how "Tribes make States and States Make Tribes." That is, the interaction of warfare at times pushes some groups to centralize and take on state-like forms of organization (or even become states). At other times warfare compels partially centralized chiefdoms to fragment. Survivors flee into hinterlands and form nomadic bands. He sees the formation of "segmentary lineages," an organizational form which allows successively larger, if more diffuse, kinship alliances to form and collapse in response to changing military pressures, as a generic solution to tribe-state warfare.

He re-examines the role of special trade goods in state-tribe trade relations. Even when some tribal peoples treated European "baubles with contempt" (pg. 145), both sides saw the utility in extending and maintaining political control. Even though guns were not of much use in rain forests, they were valuable as symbols of access to European goods. Here too, access to guns was used to encourage slave trade. More assimilated Indians were used against "wild" (i.e., unassimilated) Indians. The key point in Whitehead's account is the complex ways in which tribes and states construct each other through their interactions.

Thomas Abler re-examines the roles of trade in muskets and beaver hides in Iroquois history. While reciting much that is familiar, he reports some new findings and revises others. He dissects the cycle of trading beaver hides for guns, then needing guns to collect more beaver hides to trade for more guns. Reliance on European goods caused beaver hides to become far more important than deer hides. Dependence on guns changed warfare, decreasing formal battles--while a warrior could dodge an arrow or spear, he could not dodge a bullet.

Abler's strongest point is that depletion of beaver hides was a major impetus to expansion. He argues that the source of conflict between Hurons and Iroquois was access to beaver hunting territory rather than competition over the middleman role in the hide trade. It must be noted that warfare among tribes was often about trade: either gaining access or blocking access of rivals. His account is sufficiently persuasive to demand a serious hearing.

Warfare had other impacts on Iroquois society. Iroquois men often served as ethnic soldiers in European wars fought in North America. Many adult males were lost in war or to disease. The need to replace them led to wars to obtain captives who often were integrated into Iroquois society. Abler argues that the village was the key unit of Iroquois organization, and that councils were as much symbolic as real. He suggests that Iroquois social structure strongly resembles a segmentary lineage system that never quite became a state.

Michael Brown and Eduardo Fernandez examine state tribal relations in eastern Peru. They note that the tribal peoples of this region, known as Asháninka, had had contacts with Incas in prehistoric times, so had experience with state societies. Attempts to missionize the Asháninka were successful only as long as promised trade goods were delivered. Repeated interactions created a complicated social mosaic which were never understood by Spanish administrators. It is clear that various headmen learned to manipulate state leaders to their own advantage. Brown and Fernandez emphasize a point that runs through all these chapters. Namely, that tribal peoples were not mere passive victims of state expansion, but active shapers of their own histories. They conclude that, from prehistoric times to present conflicts generated by Shining Path guerrillas, state expansion consistently increases the level of violence in the zone of expansion.

In what is probably the most revolutionary chapter, Brian Ferguson argues that the Yanomami Indians of Venezuela, long celebrated in anthropology as unusually fierce, became that way at least in part because of impacts of European states. The argument is avowedly not that all that emanates from Europe is evil, but that under very peculiar circumstances state contact can lead to exceptionally severe tribal warfare.

European contact goes back at least four centuries. Two major factors contribute to intensified fighting. First, as villages became anchored near European outposts in order to obtain trade goods (steel tools, and, later, shotguns) game became depleted. In order to preserve his group, a headman would attempt to monopolize access to European goods and to extend alliances through marriages. Second, these processes coincided with the spread of European diseases which tore apart the social fabric, especially the system of marriage alliances. All of this led to heightened competition for increasingly scarce resources and a devaluation of women compared to men. These same processes also contributed to ethnogenesis as "regionally diverse Yanomami came to be generally recognized as a single cultural entity" (p. 225).

In the final chapter Andrew Strathern discusses recent changes in Papua New Guinea. With independence came a period of consolidation of political power and structure. During this time the power of the now local state in the hinterlands decreased considerably and with it local policing powers. As this happened young men increasingly came to have access to guns, either through trade or through manufacture of zip guns. This, in turn led to a return of generalized disorder and intergroup conflict. As the state gained power it attempted to control this situation in the pursuit of development, but faced a much more formidable task due to the diffusion of guns. Recently (1991) the state has regained control. An interesting aspect of this process is that when state control is strong, and warfare relatively less common, incidents of sorcery accusations and killings increase. A second point is the inverse correlation of warfare and state strength.

The foregoing summaries of these contributions facilitate discussion of Ferguson and Whitehead's analysis of state-tribe interaction. Their chapter, aptly titled "The violent edge of empire," is the most important contribution to the collection. Their punch line is that the Hobbesian image of tribal peoples rests on three fallacies: (1) that post-contact conditions and relations are a continuation of precontact conditions and relations; (2) that ethnic divisions are survivals of precontact divisions; (3) that tribal warfare is unreasoned hostility. Implicit in their discussion is the observation that these fallacies rest on a deeper false assumption that ethnographers, ethnohistorians, and historians usually have full access to the relevant context of contact.

The first fallacy is demonstrated by the various reports in the volume. All these accounts show that warfare, both state-tribe and tribe-tribe, increased substantially after state contact. Note, the claim is for increased violence, not creation of violence. Ferguson, Whitehead, and company do not propose that some idyllic Rousseauian paradise existed before nasty state people appeared. Rather, more subtly, they propose that violence increased, intensified, and sometimes transformed previously extant forms of violence. Similarly, most of these accounts illustrate how ethnicity is created through interactions which can either amalgamate or fragment previously existing groups. Thus, ethnicity is not a primordial survival. Clearly, too, there is a logic behind tribal warfare. It is not "unreasoned hostility." Generally, tribal warfare is driven by a logic of access to resources, whether they be natural or provided through trade.

Finally, the context of contact is vitally important, but not determinative, in the level of violence. The kind of state making contact, the motive forces driving state expansion interact with local conditions to produce a myriad of local consequences. To focus solely on the state, or solely on local conditions, is to miss the point--it is the interaction of the two that shapes events. Unfortunately, scholars often have little access to information of precontact conditions on the tribal side of the encounter. Given the rapid, massive impacts of contact, the assumption that conditions noted by even the earliest observers reflect precontact conditions is rendered highly questionable, at best.

Ferguson and Whitehead criticize world-system theory for failing to come to grips with these issues due to an overly strong focus on core activities and processes. While this critique is, in the main, correct, it is not entirely correct. Readers familiar with American Indian Culture and Research Journal may recall several articles that attempt to deal with this issue (9:3; 11:2; 14:1; 14:4). The gap is due to differences in the traditions of scholars of the anthropology of war and scholars of Indian-White relations. One goal of this review is to increase the dialogue between these groups, it is hoped, to their mutual benefit.

Ferguson and Whitehead have assembled considerable material with which the history of Indian-White relations can be compared and contrasted. From their evidence it is clear that North America is far from unique. However, it does seem to be distinctive in the intensity of the effects of European actions on tribal peoples. Whether this is due to differences between ancient states and European states in recent centuries in technology, political and economic power, or the complexity of the European trade network remains to be studied. It is also possible that the difference may be merely an artifact of distance in time. From the perspective of two thousand years ago, a century may seem like relatively rapid conquest, whereas from the perspective of 1993, a century constitutes nearly half the history of the United States as an independent state.

Precisely because scholars of Indian-White relations have studied North America so intensively, they have much to contribute to the attempt to understand the patterns and processes of state-tribe interaction, and warfare generally. Conversely, the attempt to understand those patterns is a rich field for new insights and research hypotheses for students of Indian-White relations. War in the Tribal Zone is an important contribution and an invaluable asset to interchange among scholars interested in the patterns of interaction between states and tribes.

Milner - Warfare in prehistoric and early historic eastern North America

Warfare in prehistoric and early historic eastern North America
George R. Milner1
(1) Department of Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University, 16802 University Park, Pennsylvania

Journal Journal of Archaeological Research
Publisher Springer Netherlands
ISSN 1059-0161 (Print) 1573-7756 (Online)
Issue Volume 7, Number 2 / June, 1999
DOI 10.1007/BF02446275
Pages 105-151
Subject Collection Humanities, Social Sciences and Law
SpringerLink Date Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Recent criticisms of the use of historically and ethnographically recorded conflicts as models for warfare in prehistoric times force archaeologists to reexamine assumptions about the frequency, severity, and effects of intergroup fighting. In eastern North America, skeletons of victims and palisaded settlements—the only information consistently available on intergroup hostilities—indicate that the prevalence of conflicts varied greatly over time and space. Occasionally the attacks, typically ambushes of small numbers of people, cumulatively resulted in numerous casualties. Variation in palisade strength is consistent with the organizational structure and warrior mobilization potential of late prehistoric societies in different parts of the Eastern Woodlands.

Key Words eastern North America - prehistory - warfare - trauma - palisades

Saturday, 19 March 2011

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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Projecteis de funda - Sling missiles

in LEBLANC, Steven A.; REGISTER, Katherine E. (2004) – Constant battles: the myth of the peaceful, noble savage. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin. Page 61

"These sling missiles demonstrate a widespread unwillingness to accept how common warfare was in the past. The cluster of sling missiles made of plaster (A) found in a 5000 B.C. site in Turkey are often believed to have been heated and used to boil water. Yet they (B) are identical in shape to the stones missiles from Hawaii used before European contact (C), and the lead missile made by the ancient Greeks (D) around 500 B.C."

Jorge (ed) - Existe uma Idade do Bronze Atlântico? - Sociedade: Hierarquização e Conflito

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Myers - War Before History: A Critical Survey

Neolithic farmers not so peaceful after all

in The Archaeology News Network Neolithic
Posted by IoanG ArchaeoHeritage, Archaeology, Breakingnews, Europe, UK, Western Europe 8:11 PM

A large number of New Stone Age men, women and children may have suffered serious violent attacks and died from their injuries, scientists believe.

Human skulls buried in Orkney's famous Tomb of the Eagles displayed signs of serious wounds inflicted by weapons, according to ground-breaking research.

Archaelogists who studied all 85 skulls from in and around the 5,000-year-old tomb said 16 contain ‘clear evidence’ of trauma.

The findings give the lie to the long-held belief that the people who lived in Scotland in the New Stone Age were peaceful farmers and that the human race did not turn murderous and warlike until later in pre-history.

The skulls - both male and female, children and adults - showed injuries caused by one or more severe blows to the head inflicted by a weapon.

Some of these severe head wounds healed - leaving some people with painful head injuries.

But Orkney-based archaeologist David Lawrence, who led the investigation and revealed his preliminary findings, said it was likely that many died of their injuries.

Mr Lawrence undertook the research in a collaborative project between the University of Bradford and Orkney Museum, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The results are to be peer-reviewed and formally published 'shortly'.

Mr Lawrence said: ‘By checking if the wounds were healed or not, we can see if someone suffered from severe head trauma just around the time if their death.

‘To say with absolute certainty if they actually died from it, is very hard, but some attacks were so severe that the whole skull has split in two horizontally. Other wounds are very subtle and are most easily observed inside the skull, where splinters have been bent inwards. Some were caused by a blunt force, like a stone or a mace.

"'Other cases were caused by pointed objects, like a bone headed arrow and there were also traumas caused by edged objects, like an axe. Some wounds did heal. There is a skull of a woman that has three healed wounds which were caused by blows from a blunt object."

"She also had a dislocated jaw which was badly healed. She must have suffered terribly, as it would have been very difficult for her to chew properly. It is likely she also had problems speaking."

The study's main finding - that Scotland's early settlers were not the friendly farmers that historians for a long time thought them to be - is in line with recent results from studies and finds in Europe.

Mr Lawrence said: "For a long time it was thought Neolithic people were friendly farmers, but in recent years it has been proven that this was not necessarily the case. ‘My study shows this again, but this time on an apparently remote island."

Mr Lawrence is convinced that the people in the Tomb of the Eagles were not ritually killed.

He said: : "There was a great variety in the places where people were hit and the instruments used: there is no simple pattern."

"This variety makes it very unlikely that they were killed in some kind of ritual. Some wounds are too directed to be an accident either. Some went straight through the skull. Many were very likely caused by a mace, or even just stones but certainly caused with intent."

"I think it is very likely that some of the head injuries were suffered during fights face to face. I can't say if they were fighting each other or different tribes."

"It is hard to tell who these particular people were, and why they were buried in this tomb. There is still a lot of carbon dating to do, but most of the bones seem to date from the fourth millennium BC, though some are from the third."

"This tomb was in use for a very long time - maybe even more than a thousand years - and in that time, 85 burials is not that much. It is therefore unlikely it was used as a general burial tomb, though it being just for some hereditary elite is also very unlikely, as the numbers are much too low for that."

"One plausible theory is that it was a grave for people who had suffered 'unaccepted' deaths - people who were murdered, died by accident or who were from other tribes."

Photo 1

'Clear evidence': A large number of New Stone Age men, women and children suffered serious violent attacks and died from their injuries, scientists believe

Photo 2

Isbister Chambered Cairn - better known as the Tomb of the Eagles - sits on the south-eastern tip of South Ronaldsay

Source: Mail Online [March 09, 2011]
Posted by IoanG on 8:11 PM. Filed under ArchaeoHeritage, Archaeology, Breakingnews, Europe, UK, Western Europe . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

Zollikofer et al - Evidence for interpersonal violence in the St. Césaire Neanderthal

Friday, 11 March 2011

More on Buried Roman Soldiers of Dura May Be Victims of Ancient Iranian Chemical Weapon

March, 10 2011

The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies

Almost 2,000 years ago, 19 Roman soldiers rushed into a cramped underground tunnel, sent to defend the Roman occupied Syrian city of Dura Europos from an army of Persians digging to undermine the city's mudbrick walls.

But instead of Persian soldiers, the Romans met with a wall of noxious black smoke that turned to acid in their lungs. Their crystal-pummelled swords were no match for this weapon; the Romans choked and died in moments, many with their last pay of coins still slung in purses on their belts.
Nearby, a Persian soldier - perhaps the one who started the toxic underground fire - suffered his own death throes, grasping desperately at his chain mail shirt as he choked. [Image of skeleton of Persian soldier]

These 20 men, who died in 256 CE, may be the first victims of chemical warfare to leave any archaeological evidence of their passing, according to a new investigation. The case is a cold one, with little physical evidence left behind beyond drawings and archaeological excavation notes from the 1930s. But a new analysis of those materials published in January in the American Journal of Archaeology finds that the soldiers likely did not die by the sword as the original excavator believed. Instead, they were gassed.

Where there's smoke

In the 250s, the Persian Sasanian Empire set its sights on re-taking the city of Dura from Romans. The city, which backs up against the Euphrates River, was by this time under Roman occupation used as a military base, well-fortified with meters-thick walls.

The Persians set about tunnelling underneath those walls in an effort to bring them down so troops could rush into the city. They likely started their excavations 130 feet (40 meters) away from the city, in a tomb in Dura's underground necropolis. Meanwhile, the Roman defenders dug their own countermines in hopes of intercepting the tunnelling Persians.

The outlines of this underground cat-and-mouse game was first sketched out by French archaeologist Robert du Mesnil du Buisson, who first excavated these siege tunnels in the 1920s and 30s. Du Mesnil also found the piled bodies of at least 19 Roman soldiers and one lone Persian in the tunnels beneath the city walls. He envisioned fierce hand-to-hand combat underground, during which the Persians drove back the Romans and then set fire to the Roman tunnel. Crystals of sulphur and bitumen, a naturally occurring, tar-like petrochemical, were found in the tunnel, suggesting that the Persians made the fire fast and hot.

Something about that scenario didn't make sense to Simon James, an archaeologist and historian from the University of Leicester in England. For one thing, it would have been difficult to engage in hand-to-hand combat in the tunnels, which could barely accommodate a man standing upright. For another, the position of the bodies on du Mesnil's sketches didn't match a scenario in which the Romans were run through or burned to death.

"This wasn't a pile of people who had been crowded into a small space and collapsed where they stood," James told LiveScience. "This was a deliberate pile of bodies."

Using old reports and sketches, James reconstructed the events in the tunnel on that deadly day. At first, he said, he thought the Romans had trampled each other while trying to escape the tunnel. But when he suggested that idea to his colleagues, one suggested an alternative: What about smoke?

Fumes of hell

Chemical warfare was well established by the time the Persians besieged Dura, said Adrienne Mayor, a historian at Stanford University.

"There was a lot of chemical warfare [in the ancient world]," Mayor, who was not involved in the study, told LiveScience. "Few people are aware of how much there is documented in the ancient historians about this."

One of the earliest examples, Mayor said, was a battle in 189 B.C.E., when Greeks burnt chicken feathers and used bellows to blow the smoke into Roman invaders' siege tunnels. Petrochemical fires were a common tool in the Middle East, where flammable naphtha and oily bitumen were easy to find. Ancient militaries were endlessly creative: When the Macedonian warlord, Alexander II attacked the Phoenician city of Tyre in the fourth century B.C.E., Phoenician defenders had a surprise waiting for him.

"They heated fine grains of sand in shields, heated it until it was red-hot, and then catapulted it down onto Alexander's army," Mayor said. "These tiny pieces of red-hot sand went right under their armour and a couple inches into their skin, burning them."

So the idea that the Persians knew how to make toxic smoke is, "totally plausible," Mayor said.

"I think [James] really figured out what happened," she said.

In the new interpretation of the clash in the tunnels of Dura, the Romans heard the Persians working beneath the ground and steered their tunnel to intercept their enemies. The Roman tunnel was shallower than the Persian one, so the Romans planned to break in on the Persians from above. But there was no element of surprise for either side: The Persians could also hear the Romans coming.

So the Persians set a trap. Just as the Romans broke through, James said, they lit a fire in their own tunnel. Perhaps they had a bellows to direct the smoke, or perhaps they relied on the natural chimney effect of the shaft between the two tunnels. Either way, they threw sulphur and bitumen on the flames. One of the Persian soldiers was overcome and died, sacrificed himself to fir the weapon. The Romans met with the choking gas, which turned to sulphuric acid in their lungs.

"It would have almost been literally the fumes of hell coming out of the Roman tunnel," James said.

Any Roman soldiers waiting to enter the tunnels would have hesitated, seeing the smoke and hearing their fellow soldiers dying, James said. Meanwhile, the Persians waited for the tunnel to clear, and then hurried to collapse the Roman tunnel. They dragged the bodies into the stacked position in which du Mesnil would later find them. Since corpse particularly either hazardous, or of the aniranians (non-Aryans = uncivilised/savages) considered by Zoroastrian Persians as 'unclean', left the Roman corpses and their coins, armour and weapons untouched.

Professor Sam Lieu believes the operation for retaking Dura was conducted by Sasanian intelligence, the world's first intelligence organisation.

Horrors of war

After du Mesnil finished excavations, he had the tunnels filled in. Presumably, the skeletons of the soldiers remain where he found them. That makes proving the chemical warfare theory difficult, if not impossible, James said.

"It's a circumstantial case," he said. "But what it does do is it doesn't invent anything. We've got the actual stuff [the sulphur and bitumen] on the ground. It's an established technique."

If the Persians were using chemical warfare at this time, it shows that their military operations were extremely sophisticated, James said.

The story also brings home the reality of ancient warfare, James said.

"It's easy to regard this very clinically and look at this as artefacts & Here at Dura you really have got this incredibly vivid evidence of the horrors of ancient warfare," he said. "It was horrendously dangerous, brutal, and one hardly has words for it, really,"

"Arqueología de la Guerra Civil Española. Excavaciones arqueológicas en el Campo de Concentración de Castuera".

MARZO A LAS 11,30 h.

Defence Sites: Heritage and Future 2012

1st International Conference on Defence Sites: Heritage and Future
6 - 8 June, 2012
Portsmouth, UK

Redundant army, naval and air force sites offer a range of opportunities to planners, developers, architects and local communities to redevelop large areas, bringing new life to often neglected parts of town. These opportunities are common to many countries and this first International Conference on Defence Sites: Heritage and Future will help to stress their common features and share experiences of their transformation to civilian uses all over the world.

The conference aims to raise the knowledge of the scale, design and functions of military, naval and air force sites. It will bring a better understanding to the issues raised by their redundancy, and the implications of different disposal processes for state owned land. It is also important to understand the interaction of different stakeholders and their influence on the outcome. They include government agencies, developers, planners, architects, historians and members of local communities. Special issues related to historical naval ships and other maritime infrastructure will also be discussed.

Delegates attending Defence Sites: Heritage and Future 2012 will be invited to submit an extended version of their paper for possible publication in the International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning one of the six International Journals edited by the Wessex Institute.

There is also a need to achieve sustainable development, which involves issues related to maintenance, conservation, as well as built and natural environmental controls, while responding to the needs and aspirations of local communities.

The re-use of defence sites also raises questions regarding the need to recover brownfields and contaminated land, which can have far-reaching legal responsibilities and environmental consequences.

The conference encourages the presentation of case studies, highlighting examples of good practices that can help to transfer knowledge between different partners across the world.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Otterbein - Internal war: a cross-cultural study

Leblanc - Prehistory of Warfare

Title: Prehistory of Warfare
By: LeBlanc, Steven A., Archaeology, 0003-8113, May 1, 2003, Vol. 56, Issue 3
Database: Academic Search Premier

Humans have been at each others' throats since the dawn of the species.
IN THE EARLY 1970S, working in the El Morro Valley of west-central New Mexico, I encountered the remains of seven large prehistoric pueblos that had once housed upwards of a thousand people each. Surrounded by two-story-high walls, the villages were perched on steep-sided mesas, suggesting that their inhabitants built them with defense in mind. At the time, the possibility that warfare occurred among the Anasazi was of little interest to me and my colleagues. Rather, we were trying to figure out what the people in these 700-year-old communities farmed and hunted, the impact of climate change, and the nature of their social systems--not the possibility of violent conflict.
One of these pueblos, it turned out, had been burned to the ground; its people had clearly fled for their lives. Pottery and valuables had been left on the floors, and bushels of burned corn still lay in the storerooms. We eventually determined that this site had been abandoned, and that immediately afterward a fortress had been built nearby. Something catastrophic had occurred at this ancient Anasazi settlement, and the survivors had almost immediately, and at great speed, set about to prevent it from happening again.
Thirty years ago, archaeologists were certainly aware that violent, organized conflicts occurred in the prehistoric cultures they studied, but they considered these incidents almost irrelevant to our understanding of past events and people. Today, some of my colleagues are realizing that the evidence I helped uncover in the El Morro Valley is indicative of warfare endemic throughout the entire Southwest, with its attendant massacres, population decline, and area abandonments that forever changed the Anasazi way of life.
When excavating eight-millennia-old farm villages in southeastern Turkey in 1970, I initially marveled how similar modern villages were to ancient ones, which were occupied at a time when an abundance of plants and animals made warfare quite unnecessary. Or so I thought. I knew we had discovered some plaster sling missiles (one of our workmen showed me how shepherds used slings to hurl stones at predators threatening their sheep). Such missiles were found at many of these sites, often in great quantities, and were clearly not intended for protecting flocks of sheep; they were exactly the same size and shape as later Greek and Roman sling stones used for warfare.
The so-called "donut stones" we had uncovered at these sites were assumed to be weights for digging sticks, presumably threaded on a pole to make it heavier for digging holes to plant crops. I failed to note how much they resembled the round stone heads attached to wooden clubs--maces--used in many places of the world exclusively for fighting and still used ceremonially to signify power. Thirty years ago, I was holding mace heads and sling missiles in my hands, unaware of their use as weapons of war.
We now know that defensive walls once ringed many villages of this era, as they did the Anasazi settlements. Rooms were massed together behind solid outside walls and were entered from the roof. Other sites had mud-brick defensive walls, some with elaborately defended gates. Furthermore, many of these villages had been burned to the ground, their inhabitants massacred, as indicated by nearby mass graves.
Certainly for those civilizations that kept written records or had descriptive narrative art traditions, warfare is so clearly present that no one can deny it. Think of Homer's Iliad or the Vedas of South India, or scenes of prisoner sacrifice on Moche pottery. There is no reason to think that warfare played any less of a role in prehistoric societies for which we have no such records, whether they be hunter-gatherers or farmers. But most scholars studying these cultures still are not seeing it. They should assume warfare occurred among the people they study, just as they assume religion and art were a normal part of human culture. Then they could ask more interesting questions, such as: What form did warfare take? Can warfare explain some of the material found in the archaeological record? What were people fighting over and why did the conflicts end?
Today, some scholars know me as Dr. Warfare. To them, I have the annoying habit of asking un-politic questions about their research. I am the one who asks why the houses at a particular site were jammed so close together and many catastrophically burned. When I suggest that the houses were crowded behind defensive walls that were not found because no one was looking for them, I am not terribly appreciated. And I don't win any popularity contests when I suggest that twenty-mile-wide zones with no sites in them imply no-man's lands--clear evidence for warfare--to archaeologists who have explained a region's history without mention of conflict.
Virtually all the basic textbooks on archaeology ignore the prevalence or significance of past warfare, which is usually not discussed until the formation of state-level civilizations such as ancient Sumer. Most texts either assume or actually state that for most of human history there was an abundance of available resources. There was no resource stress, and people had the means to control population, though how they accomplished this is never explained. The one archaeologist who has most explicitly railed against this hidden but pervasive attitude is Lawrence Keeley of the University of Illinois, who studies the earliest farmers in Western Europe. He has found ample evidence of warfare as farmers spread west, yet most of his colleagues still believe the expansion was peaceful and his evidence a minor aberration, as seen in the various papers in Barry Cunliffe's The Oxford Illustrated Prehistory of Europe (1994) or Douglas Price's Europe's First Farmers (2000). Keeley contends that "pre-historians have increasingly pacified the past," presuming peace or thinking up every possible alternative explanation for the evidence they cannot ignore. In his War Before Civilization (1996) he accused archaeologists of being in denial on the subject.
Witness archaeologist Lisa Valkenier suggesting in 1997 that hilltop constructions along the Peruvian coast are significant because peaks are sacred in Andean cosmology. Their enclosing walls and narrow guarded entries may have more to do with restricting access to the huacas, or sacred shrines, on top of the hills than protecting defenders and barring entry to any potential attackers. How else but by empathy can one formulate such an interpretation in an area with a long defensive wall and hundreds of defensively located fortresses, some still containing piles of sling missiles ready to be used; where a common artistic motif is the parading and execution of defeated enemies; where hundreds were sacrificed; and where there is ample evidence of conquest, no-man's lands, specialized weapons, and so on?
A talk I gave at the Mesa Verde National Park last summer, in which I pointed out that the over 700-year-old cliff dwellings were built in response to warfare, raised the hackles of National Park Service personnel unwilling to accept anything but the peaceful Anasazi message peddled by their superiors. In fact, in the classic book Indians of Mesa Verde, published in 1961 by the park service, author Don Watson first describes the Mesa Verde people as "peaceful farming Indians," and admits that the cliff dwellings had a defensive aspect, but since he had already decided that the inhabitants were peaceful, the threat must have been from a new enemy--marauding nomadic Indians. This, in spite of the fact that there is ample evidence of Southwestern warfare for more than a thousand years before the cliff dwellings were built, and there is no evidence for the intrusion of nomadic peoples at this time.
Of the hundreds of research projects in the Southwest, only one--led by Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer of the Field Museum and Northern Illinois University, respectively--deliberately set out to research prehistoric warfare. They demonstrated quite convincingly that the Arizona cliff dwellings of the Tsegi Canyon area (known best for Betatakin and Kiet Siel ruins) were defensive, and their locations were not selected for ideology or because they were breezier and cooler in summer and warmer in the winter, as was previously argued by almost all Southwestern archaeologists.
For most prehistoric cultures, one has to piece together the evidence for warfare from artifactual bits and pieces. Most human history involved foragers, and so they are particularly relevant. They too were not peaceful. We know from ethnography that the Inuit (Eskimo) and Australian Aborigines engaged in warfare. We've also discovered remains of prehistoric bone armor in the Arctic, and skeletal evidence of deadly blows to the head are well documented among the prehistoric Aborigines. Surprising to some is the skeletal evidence for warfare in prehistoric California, once thought of as a land of peaceful acorn gatherers. The prehistoric people who lived in southern California had the highest incident of warfare deaths known anywhere in the world. Thirty percent of a large sample of males dating to the first centuries A.D. had wounds or died violent deaths. About half that number of women had similar histories. When we remember that not all warfare deaths leave skeletal evidence, this is a staggering number.
There was nothing unique about the farmers of the Southwest. From the Neolithic farmers of the Middle East and Europe to the New Guinea highlanders in the twentieth century, tribally organized farmers probably had the most intense warfare of any type of society. Early villages in China, the Yucatán, present-day Pakistan, and Micronesia were well fortified. Ancient farmers in coastal Peru had plenty of forts. All Polynesian societies had warfare, from the smallest islands like Tikopia, to Tahiti, New Zealand (more than four thousand prehistoric forts), and Hawaii. No-man's lands separated farming settlements in Okinawa, Oaxaca, and the southeastern United States. Such societies took trophy heads and cannibalized their enemies. Their skeletal remains show ample evidence of violent deaths. All well-studied prehistoric farming societies had warfare. They may have had intervals of peace, but over the span of hundreds of years there is plenty of evidence for real, deadly warfare.
When farmers initially took over the world, they did so as warriors, grabbing land as they spread out from the Levant through the Middle East into Europe, or from South China down through Southeast Asia. Later, complex societies like the Maya, the Inca, the Sumerians, and the Hawaiians were no less belligerent. Here, conflict took on a new dimension. Fortresses, defensive walls hundreds of miles long, and weapons and armor expertly crafted by specialists all gave the warfare of these societies a heightened visibility.
There is a danger in making too much of the increased visibility of warfare we see in these complex societies. This is especially true for societies with writing. When there are no texts, it is easy to see no warfare. But the opposite is true. As soon as societies can write, they write about warfare. It is not a case of literate societies having warfare for the first time, but their being able to write about what had been going on for a long time. Also, many of these literate societies link to European civilization in one way or another, and so this raises the specter of Europeans being warlike and spreading war to inherently peaceful people elsewhere, a patently false but prevalent notion. Viewing warfare from the perspective of literate societies tells us nothing about the thousands of years of human societies that were not civilizations--that is, almost all of human history. So we must not rely too much on the small time slice represented by literate societies if we want to understand warfare in the past.
The Maya were once considered a peaceful society led by scholarly priests. That all changed when the texts written by their leaders could be read, revealing a long history of warfare and conquest. Most Mayanists now accept that there was warfare, but many still resist dealing with its scale or implications. Was there population growth that resulted in resource depletion, as throughout the rest of the world? We would expect the Maya to have been fighting each other over valuable farmlands as a consequence, but Mayanist Linda Schele concluded in 1984 that "I do not think it [warfare] was territorial for the most part," this even though texts discuss conquest, and fortifications are present at sites like El Mirador, Calakmul, Tikal, Yaxuná, Uxmal, and many others from all time periods. Why fortify them, if no one wanted to capture them?
Today, more Maya archaeologists are looking at warfare in a systematic way, by mapping defensive features, finding images of destruction, and dating these events. A new breed of younger scholars is finding evidence of warfare throughout the Maya past. Where are the no-man's lands that almost always open up between competing states because they are too dangerous to live in? Warfare must have been intimately involved in the development of Maya civilization, and resource stress must have been widespread.
Demonstrating the prevalence of warfare is not an end in itself. It is only the first step in understanding why there was so much, why it was "rational" for everyone to engage in it all the time. I believe the question of warfare links to the availability of resources.
During the 1960s, I lived in Western Samoa as a Peace Corps volunteer on what seemed to be an idyllic South Pacific Island--exactly like those painted by Paul Gauguin. Breadfruit and coconut groves grew all around my village, and I resided in a thatched-roof house with no walls beneath a giant mango tree. If ever there was a Garden of Eden, this was it. I lived with a family headed by an extremely intelligent elderly chief named Sila. One day, Sila happened to mention that the island's trees did not bear fruit as they had when he was a child. He attributed the decline to the possibility that the presence of radio transmissions had affected production, since Western Samoa (now known as Samoa) had its own radio station by then. I suggested that what had changed was not that there was less fruit but that there were more mouths to feed. Upon reflection, Sila decided I was probably right. Being an astute manager, he was already taking the precaution of expanding his farm plots into some of the last remaining farmable land on the island, at considerable cost and effort, to ensure adequate food for his growing family. Sila was aware of his escalating provisioning problems but was not quite able to grasp the overall demographic situation. Why was this?
The simple answer is that the rate of population change in our small Samoan village was so gradual that during an adult life span growth was not dramatic enough to be fully comprehended. The same thing happens to us all the time. Communities grow and change composition, and often only after the process is well advanced do we recognize just how significant the changes have been--and we have the benefit of historic documents, old photographs, long life spans, and government census surveys. All human societies can grow substantially over time, and all did whenever resources permitted. The change may seem small in one person's lifetime, but over a couple of hundred years, populations can and do double, triple, or quadruple in size.
The consequences of these changes become evident only when there is a crisis. The same can be said for environmental changes. The forests of Central America were being denuded and encroached upon for many years, but it took Hurricane Mitch, which ravaged most of the region in late October 1998, to produce the dramatic flooding and devastation that fully demonstrated the magnitude of the problem: too many people cutting down the forest and farming steep hillsides to survive. The natural environment is resilient and at the same time delicate, as modern society keeps finding out. And it was just so in the past.
These observations about Mother Nature are incompatible with popular myths about peaceful people living in ecological balance with nature in the past. A peaceful past is possible only if you live in ecological balance. If you live in a Garden of Eden surrounded by plenty, why fight? By this logic, warfare is a sure thing when natural resources run dry. If someone as smart as Sila couldn't perceive population growth, and if humans all over Earth continue to degrade their environments, could people living in the past have been any different?
A study by Canadian social scientists Christina Mesquida and Neil Wiener has shown that the greater the proportion of a society is composed of unmarried young men, the greater the likelihood of war. Why such a correlation? It is not because the young men are not married; it is because they cannot get married. They are too poor to support wives and families. The idea that poverty breeds war is far from original. The reason poverty exists has remained the same since the beginning of time: humans have invariably overexploited their resources because they have always outgrown them.
There is another lesson from past warfare. It stops. From foragers to farmers, to more complex societies, when people no longer have resource stress they stop fighting. When the climate greatly improves, warfare declines. For example, in a variety of places the medieval warm interval of ca. 900-1100 improved farming conditions. The great towns of Chaco Canyon were built at this time, and it was the time of archaeologist Stephen Lekson's Pax Chaco--the longest period of peace in the Southwest. It is no accident that the era of Gothic cathedrals was a response to similar climate improvement. Another surprising fact is that the amount of warfare has declined over time. If we count the proportion of a society that died from warfare, and not the size of the armies, as the true measure of warfare, then we find that foragers and farmers have much higher death rates--often approaching 25 percent of the men--than more recent complex societies. No complex society, including modern states, ever approached this level of warfare.
If warfare has ultimately been a constant battle over scarce resources, then solving the resource problem will enable us to become better at ridding ourselves of conflict.
There have been several great "revolutions" in human history: control of fire, the acquisition of speech, the agricultural revolution, the development of complex societies. One of the most recent, the Industrial Revolution, has lowered the birth rate and increased available resources. History shows that peoples with strong animosities stop fighting after adequate resources are established and the benefits of cooperation recognized. The Hopi today are some of the most peaceful people on earth, yet their history is filled with warfare. The Gebusi of lowland New Guinea, the African !Kung Bushmen, the Mbuti Pygmies of central Africa, the Sanpoi and their neighbors of the southern Columbia River, and the Sirionno of Amazonia are all peoples who are noted for being peaceful, yet archaeology and historical accounts provide ample evidence of past warfare. Sometimes things changed in a generation; at other times it took longer. Adequate food and opportunity does not instantly translate into peace, but it will, given time.
The fact that it can take several generations or longer to establish peace between warring factions is little comfort for those engaged in the world's present conflicts. Add to this a recent change in the decision-making process that leads to war. In most traditional societies, be they forager bands, tribal farmers, or even complex chiefdoms, no individual held enough power to start a war on his own. A consensus was needed; pros and cons were carefully weighed and hotheads were not tolerated. The risks to all were too great. Moreover, failure of leadership was quickly recognized, and poor leaders were replaced. No Hitler or Saddam Hussein would have been tolerated. Past wars were necessary for survival, and therefore were rational; too often today this is not the case. We cannot go back to forager-band-type consensus, but the world must work harder at keeping single individuals from gaining the power to start wars. We know from archaeology that the amount of warfare has declined markedly over the course of human history and that peace can prevail under the right circumstances. In spite of the conflict we see around us, we are doing better, and there is less warfare in the world today than there ever has been. Ending it may be a slow process, but we are making headway.
PHOTO (COLOR): Maya warriors fight with spear and atlatl over the body of a fallen comrade in this Classic Period (A.D. 600-900) cylinder vase. Some scholars still underrate the role that warfare played in the Maya past.

PHOTO (COLOR): Anasazi fortifications at the Hovenweep site in southeastern Utah. These defensive structures were built between A.D. 1200 and 1300, a period of climate change that put severe stress on the Anasazi population and may have sparked a resumption of warfare as a means of securing food. Above right, a row of storage jars and burned corn and roof beams in a hastily abandoned room at a pueblo site in the El Morro Valley of west central New Mexico. The site was attacked in 1279 but its inhabitants survived and quickly built a fortress nearby.
PHOTO (COLOR): Sling missiles from a 7,000-year-old site in Turkey were once thought to have been heated and used to boil water. The Turkish missile (top) is identical in shape to a stone missile (center) from Hawaii and a lead one (bottom) used by the ancient Greeks. Below, fragment of a stone monolith (ca. A.D. 1500) from southern Peru depicts a body dismembered by warrriors.
PHOTOS (COLOR): Betatakin cliff dwelling sits within a natural alcove, top, in Arizona's Tsegi Canyon. Long thought to have afforded protection from the elements, the site was more likely chosen with defensive purposes in mind. Built ca. 1260, it was abandoned by 1300.
PHOTO (COLOR): Arctic Eskimos wore bone armor, below, as protection against surprise raids by unfriendly neighbors. New Guinea highlanders made arrow-stopping armor from inner tree bark fibers and woven cane, right.
PHOTO (COLOR): Samoan chief Sila and his wife and grandchildren. Population growth and dwindling resources led Sila to expand his farm plots to ensure an adequate food supply.
PHOTO (COLOR): Victorious Maya warriors (in short sleeves) present captives to a ruler, far right, on this Classic Period (A.D. 600-900) cylinder vase. Such depictions provide evidence for warfare that is sometimes difficult to recognize from excavations in the Mesoamerican jungle.

By Steven A. LeBlanc
©2003 by STEVEN A. LEBLANC. Portions of this article were taken from his book Constant Battles, published this spring by St. Martin's Press. LeBlanc is director of collections at Harvard University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. For further reading visit