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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.


Sunday, 22 May 2011

Early Bronze Age battle site found on German river bank

In Archaeology Daily News
May, 22 2011


BBC

Fractured human remains found on a German river bank could provide the first compelling evidence of a major Bronze Age battle.
Archaeological excavations of the Tollense Valley in northern Germany unearthed fractured skulls, wooden clubs and horse remains dating from around 1200 BC.
The injuries to the skulls suggest face-to-face combat in a battle perhaps fought between warring tribes, say the researchers.
The paper, published in the journal Antiquity, is based primarily on an investigation begun in 2008 of the Tollense Valley site, which involved both ground excavations and surveys of the riverbed by divers.
They found remains of around 100 human bodies, of which eight had lesions to their bones. Most of the bodies, but not all, appeared to be young men.
The injuries included skull damage caused by massive blows or arrowheads, and some of the injuries appear to have been fatal.
One humerus (upper arm) bone contained an arrow head embedded more than 22mm into the bone, while a thigh bone fracture suggests a fall from a horse (horse bones were also found at the site).
The archaeologists also found remains of two wooden clubs, one the shape of a baseball bat and made of ash, the second the shape of a croquet mallet and made of sloe wood.
Dr Harald Lubke of the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology in Germany said the evidence pointed to a major battle site, perhaps the earliest found to date.
"At the the beginning of the Neolithic, we have finds like Talheim in Germany, where we have evidence of violence, but it doesn't look like this situation in the Tollense Valley where we have many humans there in the riverbed," he told the BBC.
"We have a lot of violence from blunt weapons without any healing traces, and we have also evidence of sharp weapons. There are a lot of signs that this happened immediately before the victims died and the bodies are not buried in the normal way."
The archaeologists found no pottery, ornaments or paved surfaces which might be suggestive of formal graves or burial rituals.
Many of the bones appear to have been transported some distance by the river, although some finds appear to be in their original position.
The researchers suggest the bodies may have been dumped in the river before being washed away and deposited on a sandbar. Alternatively, the dead could have been killed on the spot in "the swampy valley environment", the paper concludes.
Dr Lubke believes the real conflict may have been fought out further up the river, and that the bodies so far found represent just a fraction of the carnage wrought by the battle.
"This is only a sample, what we have found up until now - the modern river bed only cuts across part of the river bed of that time. There are likely to be many more remains.
"It's absolutely necessary to find the place were the bodies came into the water and that will explain if it really was a battle or something else, such as an offering, but we believe that a fight is the best explanation at the moment."
Evidence was also found among the human remains of a millet diet, which is not typical of Northern Germany at the time, which the researchers say may betray the presence of invaders.
While bronze pins of a Silesian design could suggest contact with the Silesian region 400km to the south-east, they say.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Standing Up to Fight: Does It Explain Why We Walk Upright and Why Women Like Tall Men?


These two photo sequences depict a key part of a University of Utah experiment that showed why there is a fighting advantage to walking on two legs and being tall -- something that may help explain why ape-like human ancestors started walking upright and why women today tend to prefer tall men. In the top three photos, a participant in the study kneels with four limbs on the ground and then raises one arm to strike downward on a padded block equipped with sensors to measure the force of the blow. The bottom three photos show the same experiment, but with the blow delivered from an upright position. The study found that blows delivered downward from a two-legged posture are more powerful than downward blows from an all-fours posture, or than any blows delivered upward, from the front or sideways. (Credit: David Carrier, University of Utah)


ScienceDaily (May 19, 2011) — A University of Utah study shows that men hit harder when they stand on two legs than when they are on all fours, and when hitting downward rather than upward, giving tall, upright males a fighting advantage.
This may help explain why our ape-like human ancestors began walking upright and why women tend to prefer tall men.
"The results of this study are consistent with the hypothesis that our ancestors adopted bipedal posture so that males would be better at beating and killing each other when competing for females," says David Carrier, a biology professor who conducted the study. "Standing up on their hind legs allowed our ancestors to fight with the strength of their forelimbs, making punching much more dangerous."
"It also provides a functional explanation for why women find tall men attractive," Carrier adds. "Early in human evolution, an enhanced capacity to strike downward on an opponent may have given tall males a greater capacity to compete for mates and to defend their resources and offspring. If this were true, females who chose to mate with tall males would have had greater fitness for survival."
Carrier's new study is being published May 18 in the online Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE.
The idea is not new that fighting and violence played a role in making human ancestors shift from walking on all fours to walking on two legs. But Carrier's new study physically demonstrates the advantage of fighting from an upright, two-legged posture.
Carrier measured the force of punches by male boxers and martial arts practitioners as they hit in four different directions: forward, sideways, down and up.
A punching bag fitted with a sensor measured the force of forward and sideways punches. For strikes downward and upward, the men struck a heavy padded block on the end of a lever that swung up and down because it was suspended from an axle.
In either case, the men struck the target as hard as they could both from a standing posture and on their hands and knees.
The findings: for all punching angles, men hit with far more force when they were standing, and from both postures they could hit over twice as hard downward as upward.
Humans: Two-Legged Punching Apes?
The transition from four-legged to two-legged posture is a defining point in human evolution, yet the reason for the shift is still under debate. Darwin thought that our ancestors stood up so they could handle tools and weapons. Later scientists have suggested that bipedalism evolved for a host of other reasons, including carrying food, dissipating heat, efficient running and reaching distant branches while foraging in trees.
"Others pointed out that great apes often fight and threaten to fight from bipedal posture," says Carrier. "My study provides a mechanistic explanation for why many species of mammals stand bipedally to fight."
Carrier says many scientists are reluctant to consider an idea that paints our ancestors as violent.
"Among academics there often is resistance to the reality that humans are a violent species. It's an intrinsic desire to have us be more peaceful than we are," he says.
Nevertheless, human males and their great ape cousins -- chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans -- frequently fight each other for territory and access to females.
The most popular theories about why we became bipedal are based on locomotor advantages -- increases in the efficiency of walking and running. However, research shows upright posture is worse for locomotion, contrary to what Carrier initially believed.
"If you're a chimpanzee- or gorilla-type ancestor that is moving on the ground, walking bipedally has a cost," he says. "It's energetically more expensive, it's harder to speed up and slow down, and there are costs in terms of agility. In every way, going from four legs to two is a disadvantage for locomotion. So the selective advantage for becoming bipedal, whatever it was, must have been important."
Nearly all mammals, including chimps and gorillas, move on all fours when they run or cover long distances on the ground. On the other hand, all sorts of four-legged animals stand up and use their front legs to fight. They include anteaters, lions, wolves, bears, wolverines, horses, rabbits and many rodents and primates.
Carrier believes that the usefulness of quadruped forelegs as weapons is a side effect of how forelegs are used for walking and running. When an animal is running with its body positioned horizontally, the forelegs strike down at the ground. By lifting the body to a vertical posture, animals can direct that same force toward an opponent.
In addition, quadrupeds are stronger pulling back with their forelimbs than pushing forward. That translates to a powerful downward blow when they rear up on their hind legs. These advantages, which grow directly out of four-legged movement, can be used most effectively by an animal that can stand easily on two legs.
Carrier predicted that animals would hit harder with their forelegs when their bodies were held upright than when they were horizontal, and that they would hit harder downward than upward. Although it would be ideal to test these hypotheses with four-legged animals, humans should still possess the advantages that led our ancestors to stand upright, and they are more practical test subjects.
The results were exactly what Carrier expected. Men's side strikes were 64 percent harder, their forward strikes were 48 percent harder, their downward strikes were 44 percent harder, and their upward strikes were 48 percent harder when they were standing than when they were on their hands and knees. From both postures, subjects delivered 3.3 times as much force when they hit downward rather than upward.
Do Women Want Men Who Can Fight?
While Carrier's study primarily deals with the evolution of upright posture, it also may have implications for how women choose mates. Multiple studies have shown that women find tall men more attractive. Greater height is also associated with health, social dominance, symmetrical faces and intelligence in men and women. These correlations have led some scientists to suggest that women prefer tall men because height indicates "good genes" that can be passed on to offspring. Carrier believes there is more to it.
"If that were the whole story, I would expect the same to be true for men -- that men would be attracted to tall women. But it turns out they're not. Men are attracted to women of average height or even shorter," he says.
The alternative explanation is that tall males among our ancestors were better able to defend their resources, partners and offspring. If males can hit down harder than they can hit up, a tall male has the advantage in a fight because he can punch down to hit his opponent's most vulnerable targets.
Carrier certainly isn't saying women like physically abusive men or those who get into fights with each other. He is saying that women like tall men because tallness is a product if the evolutionary advantage held by our ancestors who began standing upright to fight.
"From the perspective of sexual selection theory, women are attracted to powerful males, not because powerful males can beat them up, but because powerful males can protect them and their children from other males," Carrier says.
"In a world of automatic weapons and guided missiles, male physical strength has little relevance to most conflicts between males," he adds. "But guns have been common weapons for less than 15 human generations. So maybe we shouldn't be surprised that modern females are still attracted to physical traits that predict how their mates would fare in a fight."

Story Source:
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Utah, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
Journal Reference:
1.David R. Carrier. The Advantage of Standing Up to Fight and the Evolution of Habitual Bipedalism in Hominins. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (5): e19630 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019630

Friday, 6 May 2011

Mass burial suggests massacre at Iron Age hill fort

BBC, 18 April 2011 Last updated at 03:10 GMT


Archaeologists have found evidence of a massacre linked to Iron Age warfare at a hill fort in Derbyshire.

A burial site contained only women and children - the first segregated burial of this kind from Iron Age Britain.

Nine skeletons were discovered in a section of ditch around the fort at Fin Cop in the Peak District.

Scientists believe "perhaps hundreds more skeletons" could be buried in the ditch, only a small part of which has been excavated so far.

Construction of the hill fort has been dated to some time between 440BC and 390BC, but it was destroyed before completion.

The fort's stone wall was broken apart and the rubble used to fill the 400m perimeter ditch, where the skeletons were found.

A second, outer wall and ditch had been started but not finished.

Iron Age warfare

The findings provide a rare insight into warfare in pre-Roman Britain, according to Dr Clive Waddington of Archaeological Research Services, who directed the excavations.

"There has been an almost accepted assumption amongst many archaeologists that hill forts functioned as displays of power, prestige and status and that warfare in the British Iron Age is largely invisible," he said.

"For the people buried at Fin Cop, the hurriedly constructed fort was evidently intended as a defensive work in response to a very real threat."

The skeletons are of women, babies, a toddler and a single teenage male. The archaeological team believe they were probably massacred after the fort was attacked and captured.

All were found in a 10m long section of ditch, the only part to be excavated so far. The ditch was 5m wide with 2m deep vertical edges and would have guarded a 4m high perimeter wall.

Animal bones, also found in the ditch, suggest the fort's inhabitants kept cattle, sheep and pigs. There were also remains from horses which indicate some of the fort's inhabitants were of high status.

The human and animal remains at Fin Cop are relatively well preserved, at least partly due to the limestone geology - the alkaline chemistry slows down decay of organic material including bone.

This may also help explain why similar evidence of Iron Age warfare has not been found at other sites; many hill forts are built on gritstone or sandstone whose acidic soil accelerate the decay of organic matter.