It seems that war has always been a part of the human story. I hate to disappoint all of those who would like to think that once upon a time there was a time when humans got along and everything was warm and fuzzy but the ancient human record confirms that war has always been a part of our story, sadly.
Researchers have uncovered what may be the oldest evidence of human warfare dating back at least 10,000 years. They’ve uncovered the remains of 27 nomadic tribespeople that show they were ruthlessly killed by humans from a rival tribe or group. And their deaths look very intentional.
The victims were not buried but were left to rot on the ground after being killed. They were hunter-gatherers in prehistoric times according to Dr. Marta Mirazon Lahr of Cambridge University’s Leverhulme Center for the Study of Human Evolution. She was in charge of the study published in “Nature” yesterday.
Researchers estimate the slaughter happened somewhere between 9500 and 10,500 years ago. They arrived at this date using radiocarbon dating techniques and by examining substance around the kill site near the skeletons. The location of the tragedy was around a now dry lagoon in Natauk, Kenya about 20 miles west of Lake Turkana. The site was uncovered back in 2012.
The remains show many signs of lethal injuries caused by stone blades, arrows, and clubs. Some of the skulls were smashed and some of the facial and cheek bones were fractured brutally. Hands, knees, and ribs were also broken and the remains of two males had arrowheads still stuck in their skulls and chests. Out of the 27 remains only 12 were in semi-good condition. One female appears to have been pregnant and, in fact, it was her fractured knees sticking out of the ground that led researchers to uncover the kill site.
Researchers theorize that the reason for the slaughter was a fight over territory as the lagoon was once an area with abundant food and water. The site is being called the “Nataruk Massacre” site. Territory could have been the motivation for the prehistoric battle but it could have also included the taking of women and children along with food by the rival tribe who attacked them.
This is not the first such kill or war site researchers have found. Cemetery 117 in the Sudan found in 1964 had 59 skeletons most of which had arrowheads and spear points in their bodies. Researchers estimated that battle took place about 13,000 years ago which makes it even older than the present find.
The record of ancient human ancestors is most often one that shows signs of violence. What must be understood is that in those prehistoric times our ancestors were competing for resources such as food, water, and shelter. Their very survival depended on it! Warfare arose between the “haves” and the “have nots” with the “winner” taking all EVEN if that meant slaughtering the “haves.”
In some ways little has changed with humans. The “have nots” still battle the “haves.” And, when people are hungry they will resort to doing anything necessary for self survival and for the survival of their clan or families. Our technology has changed BUT our instinct for survival and self-preservation has NOT CHANGED over the eons of time from the point of view of Evolutionary Sociology. Some people or groups of people will even go so far as to kill the “haves.” And that is what happened at this ancient site. It reflects the ongoing story of humanity and WAR.