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Larger-scale warfare may have occurred in Europe 1,000 years earlier

Examples of unhealed cranial injuries documented in SJAPL in this study. Large-scale violence in Late Neolithic Western Europe based on expanded skeletal evidence from San Juan ante Portam Latinam
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Larger-scale warfare may have occurred in Europe 1,000 years earlier

by Staff Writers
Valladolid, Spain (SPX) Nov 03, 2023
A re-analysis of more than 300 sets of 5,000-year-old skeletal remains excavated from a site in Spain suggests that many of the individuals may have been casualties of the earliest period of warfare in Europe, occurring over 1,000 years before the previous earliest known larger-scale conflict in the region. The study, published in Scientific Reports, indicates that both the number of injured individuals and the disproportionately high percentage of males affected suggest that the injuries resulted from a period of conflict, potentially lasting at least months.

Conflict during the European Neolithic period (approximately 9,000 to 4,000 years ago) remains poorly understood. Previous research has suggested that conflicts consisted of short raids lasting no more than a few days and involving small groups of up to 20-30 individuals, and it was therefore assumed that early societies lacked the logistical capabilities to support longer, larger-scale conflicts. The earliest such conflict in Europe was previously thought to have occurred during the Bronze Age (approximately 4,000 to 2,800 years ago).

Teresa Fernandez-Crespo and colleagues re-examined the skeletal remains of 338 individuals for evidence of healed and unhealed injuries. All the remains were from a single mass burial site in a shallow cave in the Rioja Alavesa region of northern Spain, radiocarbon dated to between 5,400 and 5,000 years ago. 52 flint arrowheads had also been discovered at the same site, with previous research finding that 36 of these had minor damage associated with hitting a target.

The authors found that 23.1% of the individuals had skeletal injuries, with 10.1% having unhealed injuries, substantially higher than estimated injury rates for the time (7-17% and 2-5%, respectively). They also found that 74.1% of the unhealed injuries and 70.0% of the healed injuries had occurred in adolescent or adult males, a significantly higher rate than in females, and a difference not seen in other European Neolithic mass-fatality sites.

The overall injury rate, the higher injury rate for males, and the previously observed damage to the arrowheads suggest that many of the individuals at the burial site were exposed to violence and may have been casualties of conflict. The relatively high rate of healed injuries suggests that the conflict continued over several months, according to the authors. The reasons for the conflict are unclear, but the authors speculate on several possible causes, including tension between different cultural groups in the region during the Late Neolithic.

Research Report:Large-scale violence in Late Neolithic Western Europe based on expanded skeletal evidence from San Juan ante Portam Latinam


Artificial Intelligence Analysis

Objectives:

To analyze the skeletal remains of 338 individuals from a mass burial site in Spain to determine whether larger-scale warfare may have occurred in Europe 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Current

State-of-the-Art and Limitations:

Previous research has suggested that conflicts consisted of short raids lasting no more than a few days and involving small groups of up to 20-30 individuals. It was assumed that early societies lacked the logistical capabilities to support longer, larger-scale conflicts.

Whats New in the Approach and Why It Will Succeed:

The authors found that 2

  • 3.
  • 1% of the individuals had skeletal injuries, with 10.1% having unhealed injuries, substantially higher than estimated injury rates for the time. The authors also found that 74.1% of the unhealed injuries and 70.0% of the healed injuries had occurred in adolescent or adult males, suggesting that a period of conflict likely lasted at least months. This suggests that larger-scale warfare may have occurred in Europe 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.

    Target Audience and Impact if Successful:

    The target audience of this study are researchers interested in understanding the history of warfare in Europe. If successful, this approach could provide valuable insights into the history of warfare in Europe and how it has evolved over time.

    Risks Involved:

    The risks involved in pursuing this approach include the possibility of the results being inconclusive or false, as well as the potential for the remains to be damaged or lost in the process.

    Cost of Pursing:

    The cost of pursuing this approach will depend on the methods used and the resources required.Timeline for Achieving Results:

    The timeline for achieving results will depend on the methods used and the resources available.Mid-term and Final

    Success Metrics:

    Mid-term success metrics could include the identification of injuries in the remains, as well as the determination of the proportion of males and females affected. Final success metrics could include the determination of the timeframe of the conflict and the number of individuals affected.

    Score for Ability to Interest DARPA: 8/10

    This research project presents a unique opportunity for DARPA to gain insight into the history of warfare in Europe. The study has the potential to provide valuable insights into the history of warfare and its evolution over time. The risks involved in this project are relatively low, and the cost and timeline for achieving results are reasonable.

    This AI report is generated by a sophisticated prompt to a ChatGPT API. Our editors clean text for presentation, but preserve AI thought for our collective observation. Please comment and ask questions about AI use by Spacedaily. We appreciate your support and contribution to better trade news.


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