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

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

Friday, 24 June 2011

Arrow origins traced to Africa

By Dan Vergano,
in USA TODAY Science Snapshot

Nicknamed Otzi, for his resting place in the Ötztal Alps, the "Iceman" was outfitted with a copper ax, flint knife and bearskin hat, a surprise to archaeologists because they all were so well-crafted. His bow and 12 arrows, two of them nicely feathered and tipped with flint points, were likely less surprising, because they nicely fit with the then-current story of the bow and arrow's origins.
"The invention of the bow and arrow used to be closely linked to the late Upper Paleolithic (Stone Age) in Europe," less than 30,000 years ago, says anthropologist Marlize Lombard of South Africa's University of Johannesburg, in a study in the current Journal of Archaeological Science.
Last year, however, Lombard and her colleagues reported in the journal Antiquity, that arrows were around at least 64,000 years ago, and were first discovered not in Europe, but in South Africa. A single quartz arrowhead, bloodstained, had turned up at the Sibudu Cave site, dating to that time. In the new Journalof Archaeological Science study, Lombard reports more arrowheads and more evidence pushing back the age of the bow and arrow.
Why does it matter? Well, modern-looking humans turn up in fossils from as long as 195,000 years ago in Africa, but only spread worldwide starting about 60,000 years ago. Anthropologists have debated for decades about the innovations or changes, everything from language to genes to tools, that turned modern man loose on the world.
Arrows are one possibility for what helped people spread all over the world, either through hunting or fighting, as Lombard cautiously notes. "Although the existence of bow and arrow technology (more than 60,000 years ago) may have far-reaching consequences for hypotheses about human behavioural evolution and adaptation, it is by no means easy to establish," she says at the beginning of her study. In the study, she looks through the microscope at 16 quartz blades found in dirt layers as much as 65,000 years old at the South African site.
All but two of the ancient blades have blood traces on them and nine were deliberately hafted, or chipped, to fit onto a tool, she finds. More than half of the blades look like they were attached to arrows and eight carry traces of blood stains, Lombard concludes. "It is therefore my reading that at least nine tools in this sample were probably used as transversely hafted arrowheads."
The others may have been blades used to butcher animals, she suggests, or fitted onto barbs or darts.
"I think the finding adds to growing evidence for the great antiquity of complex projectile weaponry in Africa," says paleoanthropologist John Shea of Stony Brook (N.Y.) University. "The real startling upshot of this finding is that it challenges longstanding archaeological beliefs that important changes in projectile technology only occurred very recently, less than 30,000 years ago, after humans dispersed into Europe."
In North America, Shea adds, "it also challenges the longstanding hypothesis that the bow and arrow were only invented a few thousand years ago and largely in conjunction with the origins of agriculture."
Even after prehistoric people invented arrows, they likely kept on using spears as well, Lombard suggests. Hunters in Africa still use spears to run down wildebeest and zebra, while using arrows only during part of the year to hunt for giraffe, eland, hartebeest and springbok. So, she concludes, archaeologists shouldn't be surprised when they find both heavier spear points and arrowheads mixed together at future archaeological digs.
" Complex projectile technology may have given our species a crucial ecological advantage in competition with other hominin (human) species as they dispersed from Africa," Shea says, by e-mail. That's one explanation for the disappearance of the Neanderthals, who have left only spear points behind at sites in Europe. Outgunned by modern humans and their arrows, the (literal) "killer app" of its day, the Neanderthals weren't able to compete for game and faded from the archaeological record (if not completely from our genes) about 30,000 years ago.
And the age of the bow and arrow may go further back, Shea says. "My own personal hunch is that the bow and arrow dates to at least 100,000 years ago based on stone tools found at sites in Ethiopia, Kenya and neighboring countries."
No wonder Otzi had such nice arrows. Archery was an ancient technology in his day. Unfortunately for the Iceman.
After a puncture wound was discovered in Otzi's left shoulder a decade ago, researchers at Italy's South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, X-rayed the wound and found what had killed the Iceman— a flint arrowhead that severed a major artery and likely paralyzed his arm. "The Iceman probably bled to death within a matter of minutes," the museum notes, because of the arrowhead.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Vitrified Forts

By K. Kris Hirst, Guide


There are some 200 hillforts and other settlements in the world which evidence signs of being subjected to intense heat. Such burned forts range in age from Neolithic to Roman period. The heating was so extreme that all, some or part of the structures were vitrified or calcined. Vitrification is a chemical process by which silicate-based rocks are turned into a glass-like amorphous solid; calcination is the loss of moisture, reduction or oxidation in carbonate rocks.
Granite, basalt, gneiss or other silicate rocks begin to crystallize at temperatures about 650°C, and melt and vitrify when exposed to temperatures between 1050 and 1235°C. Biotite micas melt at 850°C. Carbonate rocks such as limestone and dolomite become calcined when exposed to temperatures of 800°C.
Why Vitrify?
In some cases, vitrification of timber-laced ramparts was done on purpose, to produce a more solid defensive feature. In others, vitrification was a result of an accidental or purposeful fire by people bent on destruction.
Vitrified forts (or vitrified structures) are difficult to date, because exposure to such intense heat destroys the organic materials, although recent research at Misericordia (Portugal) seems to suggest that archaeomagnetic dating may be a workable solution.

Catanzariti, Gianluca, et al. 2008 Archaeomagnetic dating of a vitrified wall at the Late Bronze Age settlement of Misericordia (Serpa, Portugal). Journal of Archaeological Science 35:1399-1407.
Friend, C. R. L., N. R. Charnley, H. Clyne, and J. Dye 2008 Experimentally produced glass compared with that occurring at The Torr, NW Scotland, UK: vitrification through biotite melting. Journal of Archaeological Science 35(12):3130-3143.

Monte Novo and Misericordia (Portugal), Pico del Castillo (Spain), Tap o'Noth and Finavon Castle (Scotland)

First Cannibals Ate Each Other for Extra Nutrition

In Discovery News
By Jennifer Viegas
Thu Aug 26, 2010 05:20 AM ET

Why did our ancestors eat each other?
Simple: They were hungry.
The world's first known cannibals ate each other to satisfy their nutritional needs.
The cannibals belonged to the species Homo antecessor, related to both Neanderthals and modern humans.
Homo antecessor appears to have preyed on competing groups, treating victims like any other meat source.

The world's first known human cannibals ate each other to satisfy their nutritional needs, concludes a new study of the remains of cannibal feasts consumed about one million years ago.
The humans-as-food determination negates other possibilities, such as cannibalism for ritual's sake, or cannibalism due to starvation. In this oldest known case of humans eating humans, other food was available to the diners, but human flesh was just part of their meat mix.
"These practices were conducted by Homo antecessor, who inhabited Europe one million years ago," according to the research team, led by Eudald Carbonell.
Carbonell, a professor at the University of Rovira and Virgili, and his colleagues added that Homo antecessor was "the last common ancestor between the African lineage that gave rise to our species, Homo sapiens, and the lineage leading to the European Neanderthals of the Upper Pleistocene."
For the study, published in the latest issue of Current Anthropology, the anthropologists analyzed food remains, stone tools, and other finds associated with Homo antecessor at a cave site called Gran Dolina in the Sierra de Atapuerca near Burgos, Spain. An apparent refuse pile containing tools and meat bones from animals also included multiple butchered bones of Homo antecessor individuals.
"Cut marks, peeling, and percussion marks show that the corpses of these individuals were processed in keeping with the mimetic mode used with other mammal carcasses: skinning, defleshing, dismembering, evisceration, and periosteum (membrane that lines bones) and marrow extraction," according to the researchers.
They added that the butchery techniques identified at the site "show the primordial intention of obtaining meat and marrow and maximally exploiting nutrients. Once consumed, human and nonhuman remains were dumped, mixing them together with lithic tools."
The other bones belonged to animals such as ancient bears, wolves, foxes, mammoths, lynx and more.
The bones and many stone tools indicate this was a campsite. All human butchering took place inside the cave.
"Other small-sized animals were processed in the same way," the scientists wrote. "These data suggest that they (Homo antecessor) practiced gastronomic cannibalism."
To further support this belief, the researchers point out that the consumed individuals came from a variety of age groups, ranging from young children to young adults.
The living arrangement, choice of prey, hunting and butchering methods all suggest that Homo antecessor lived in cohesive groups that likely would have competed with other Homo antecessor groups.
"Necessarily, a level of behavioral complexity is present among these human groups," the anthropologists believe. "This complexity allows using the cannibalism in response to resources competition with other human groups."
Based on other findings, eating one's enemy for political and nutritional gain was also likely practiced by Neanderthals and early members of our own species, who also practiced cannibalism for other reasons, such as during rituals.
Biologist Steven Vogel at Duke University ruminated on cannibalism in his book Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle. Vogel calculated that we'd have to consume too many of our brethren for cannibalism to be a sustainable nutritional source in and of itself.
Instead, humans "muscled our way up the food chain," Vogel said, developing better hunting weapons and other tools to allow almost everything to be on our menus.

Monday, 6 June 2011

A computer dating revolution (of the archaeological kind)

in The Independent
Monday, 6 June 2011

Innovations in programming are changing archaeologists’ perception of how settled life and early agriculture spread through Britain, David Keys, Archaeology Correspondent, reports.

Windmill Hill, a large Neolithic causewayed enclosure in Avebury, was dated within a span of six centuries, but the new project has narrowed that down to just six decades

The long-lost ‘history’ of prehistoric Britain, including our island’s first wars, is being re-discovered - courtesy of innovations in computer programming as well as archaeology.
Using newly refined computer systems, developed over recent years by programmers at Oxford University, archaeologists from English Heritage and Cardiff University have for the first time been able to fairly accurately date individual prehistoric battles, migrations and building construction projects.
After eight years of research, the team has been able to create a ‘historical’ chronology for the first 700 years of settled life in Britain.
“In effect, we have been able to turn pre-history into history. In the past we knew about events in prehistory – but we weren’t able to date them sufficiently precisely to put them into a chronological sequence,” said Dr. Alex Bayliss, English Heritage’s chief dating specialist.
“Now, for the first time, we’re able to tell the real story of how settled life in Britain began,” said her colleague, one of Britain’s leading experts on the period, Professor Alasdair Whittle of Cardiff University.
The new dating revolution is completely changing archaeologists’ perception of how settled life and early agriculture first spread through Britain and how, some 800 years before Stonehenge, Britain’s first monumental buildings came to be constructed.
For the first time ever, computer programmers and archaeologists have now fully developed and utilized on a mass scale a technique – known as Bayesian Chronological Modelling – to be able to glimpse the real political and even military events which shaped Britain’s prehistoric past.
The new research, based on computer-refined radiocarbon dates, strongly suggests that farming life-styles were introduced from the continent through Kent and Essex by immigrants – not simply through the transmission of knowledge and ideas. The work also reveals that for the first 200 years, roughly the first 8 to 10 farming generations, the agricultural revolution spread very slowly – from Kent/Essex in around 4050 BC to the Cotswolds by 3850 BC (on average just over half a mile per year).
But the research also suggests that in around 3850 BC, the new farming culture reached some sort of demographic or political ‘critical mass’ – for the new dates reveal that suddenly the agricultural lifestyle (also being adopted by Britain’s indigenous pre-agricultural inhabitants) spread throughout Britain within just 50 years – at an average speed of around 9 miles per year – ie. some 15 times more rapidly – vastly faster than most archaeologists had previously thought.
The new study – partly funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council – has also discovered that this farming explosion in around 3850 BC seems to have triggered the construction of Britain’s first monumental buildings – the great communal tombs known today as long barrows. But the new more precise dating system has also indicated, contrary to previous archaeological belief, that most of them were only in use for two or three generations – not normally the centuries prehistorians had always assumed.
Yet the most intriguing new discovery seems to be a political one – a finding that hints at ferocious competition for power between competing groups, possibly even competing traditions and ideologies.
The new study, ‘Gathering Time’, published this month, has revealed that the introduction of continental-style ceremonial/political complexes into Britain – massive circular enclosures, each up to 300 metres in diameter – met with a mixed reception.
The new dating analysis reveals that at first (around 3700 BC) large numbers – around 40 to 50 – were built within 50 to 100 years. However some were violently attacked, their palisaded ramparts burnt down and their people killed. By around 3625 BC, attempts to build new enclosures had almost ceased.
This pause – potentially the result of opposition to the new order – lasted around half a century. A brief revival of enclosure-building between approximately 3575 and 3525 BC, detected by the new dating analysis, may represent a temporary political/military comeback for what had been briefly a dominant new tradition. This later period of monument building and subsequent ongoing occupation is also associated with terrible violence – with several of these ceremonial centres coming under attack from massed prehistoric archers.
Gradually, by around 3300 BC, the monumental enclosures (known today as ‘causewayed camps’) were abandoned – and an entirely British (as opposed to continental European-originating) style of monument, great processional avenues associated with funerary rituals, began from 3550 BC, to take their place as the dominant monumental (and probably ideological) tradition in Britain.
The ability of the refined dating system (precise to within around two and a half decades rather than two and a half centuries) is therefore transforming archaeologists’ understanding of pre-history. In the future it may even be possible to work out what the political/military events actually represent – whether they in fact represent tensions between continental immigrants and people of indigenous origin (who had adopted agriculture from those immigrants) – or whether they represent tensions between tribes or other groups of a single or related ethnic and cultural tradition. Only future research using the newly refined dating techniques plus DNA and other technologies will finally reveal the full story.
The Bayesian computer programme
The technique which English Heritage and Cardiff University has used to discover the chronology of Britain’s early agricultural ‘history’ (the early Neolithic) uses computer programs to narrow down the date ranges provided by conventional radiocarbon dating tests.
Typically radiocarbon dates in the early Neolithic have been so imprecise that they could only be expressed as wide date ranges, typically some 250 years long.
The Bayesian computer program solves this ‘imprecision’ problem by systematically checking each year in a given radiocarbon date range against other archaeological dating information, mainly the original stratigraphic relationships between the archaeological items being tested.
When literally hundreds of pieces of radiocarbon and stratigraphic data from a given site have been systematically analysed by a Bayesian computer program, the precision can typically be improved to a 25 year rather than 250 year date range.
The Bayesian software, which the archaeologists have been using, has been developed principally at Oxford University. The first program was brought out in 1995, but over the past 16 years constant improvements have been made to the system. Perhaps most importantly, however, the just completed English Heritage/Cardiff University investigation into the early Neolithic has enabled archaeologists for the first time to learn how to apply the new technique on a grand scale.
Re-discovering Britain's First Wars
Reconstructing the chronology of the early Neolithic has enabled English Heritage and Cardiff University archaeologists to re-discover Britain’s first wars – a series of conflicts which the new dating analysis shows occurred mainly between 3675 and 3475 BC.
The archaeologists have now succeeded in giving relatively precise dates to eight out of Britain’s eleven known early Neolithic battles. In almost all cases the targets for attack were the early Neolithic monumental enclosures known as causewayed camps – and the attacks were carried out through a mixture of massed archery and the use of fire.
In some cases enhanced defences appear to have been built in particularly insecure periods only to be attacked and burned down relatively rapidly. The wars were between agricultural peoples – but whether those peoples were from the same or different ethnic or cultural groups is not yet known.

Conference Defence Sites: Heritage and Future 2012

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sex and Violence: Is Sex at the Psychological Root of War?

in AlterNet
Miller-McCune Magazine / By Tom Jacobs
March 30, 2011

Research from Hong Kong suggests that, among men, the impulses to make love and war are deeply intertwined.
Guys: What do you feel when you look at a photo of an attractive woman? Excited? Intrigued?
How about warlike?
Such a response may seem strange or even offensive. But newly published research suggests it is far from uncommon — and it may help explain the deep psychological roots of warfare.
With yet another war in full swing, we once again face the fundamental question of why groups of humans settle their differences through organized violence. A wide range of motivations have been offered over the years: In a 2002 book, Chris Hedges compellingly argued that war is both an addiction and a way of engaging in the sort of heroic struggle that gives our lives meaning.
Evolutionary psychologists, on the other hand, see war as an extension of mating-related male aggression. They argue men compete for status and resources in an attempt to attract women and produce offspring, thereby passing on their genes to another generation. This competition takes many forms, including violent aggression against other males — an impulse frowned upon by modern society but one that can be channeled into acceptability when one joins the military.
It’s an interesting and well-thought-out theory, but there’s not a lot of direct evidence to back it up. That’s what makes “The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships,” a paper just published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, so intriguing.
A team of Hong Kong-based researchers led by psychologist Lei Chang of Chinese University conducted four experiments that suggest a link between the motivation to mate and a man’s interest in, or support for, war.
The first featured 111 students (60 men) at a college in China. Each was shown 20 full-body color photographs of members of the opposite sex. Half viewed images of people who had been rated attractive; the other half saw pictures of people classified as unattractive.
Afterward, “participants responded to 39 questions about having wars or trade conflicts with three foreign countries that have had hostile relationships with China in recent history,” the researchers write. Twenty-one of the questions “tapped the willingness to go to war with the hostile country,” they noted, while 18 addressed “peaceful solutions to trade conflicts.”
The results duplicated those of a pilot study: Male participants answering the war-related questions “showed more militant attitudes” if they had viewed the photos of attractive women. This effect was absent in answers to the trade-related questions, nor was it found among women for either set of questions.
In another experiment, 23 young heterosexual males viewed one of two sets of 16 photos. One featured images of Chinese national flags; the other focused on female legs. They then performed a computer test to see how quickly they could respond to common, two-character Chinese words. Half of the words related to war, while the others related to farms.
If they were motivated by nationalism or patriotism, the young men would have presumably responded to the war words more rapidly after having viewed the flag. But in fact, the researchers write, they “responded faster to war words when primed by female legs.”
In contrast, the rate at which participants processed farm-related words did not vary depending upon which photos were seen. This result was repeated in a follow-up experiment using a slightly different design.
Why would men with mating on their minds be more receptive to the idea of war? Chang and his colleagues suggest there is a “mating-warring association” deep in the male brain, due to the fact successful warriors have traditionally enjoyed greater access to women.
This instinctual force propels men “to engage in organized lethal aggression by co-opting other human adaptations, including our unique cognitive and social mind,” they write. To put it more simply, our rational brains lose the internal battle to our instinctual selves.
If peacocks impress potential mates with colorful feathers, the researchers write, perhaps warriors attract women with their ribbons, badges and fancy dress uniforms. And men’s “swords and missiles” may be our answer to a stag’s horns: weapons that showcase one’s virility.
The researchers concede war is a collective enterprise that cannot be explained entirely by individual motivates. And it’s worth noting this theory doesn’t explain why women join the military (admittedly in relatively small numbers). Furthermore, while there’s no reason to believe their results are culturally driven, it would surely be interesting to try to duplicate them in the U.S. or Europe.
Such caveats aside, their work provides further evidence that the impulse to fight may go deeper than the desire to defend one’s nation, religion or tribe. If their thesis is correct, the 1960s slogan “Make love, not war” may have to be revised. Love — at least the sexual variety — may have more in common with war than anyone imagined.