Discovery from Lake Turkana and History of Human Warfare

Very interesting finds have come to light of violently killed humans from Lake Turkana in the Kenyan Rift Valley around 10000 years ago. A stunning discovery of skeletons of 27 persons who are believed to have been killed at the same time and are supposed to have suffered violent wounds has been reported recently (Nature 529, 394–398, 21 January 2016). These finds belong to a period of late Pleistocene/early Holocene of the hunter-gatherer societies from Nataruk. Among the victims were men, women and children. The individuals were killed with projectiles and blunt weapons. These skeletons were found in the lagoon and were preserved very nicely. Such type of mass killing probably could never happen as a consequence of intra-group conflict. The evidence seems to be towards warfare and aggression in ancient societies. The experts ruled out the possibility of a cemetery and ceremonial burial. This discovery of 27 skeletons points to the fact that there may have been more causalities and many individuals might have escaped death at that time. According to one of the co-authors of this research Dr. R.A. Foley, the groups were elatively more densely packed populations than the hunter gatherers and had more chances of having inter-group conflicts because of sharing the resources which would have been plentiful near the lagoons and water bodies. Violence probably has been in the instinct of early humans and that the warfare among humans has a history of 10000 years or even earlier.

Professor S. P. Singh, Ph.D.
Editor-in-Chief, Human Biology Review
Former Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences,
Punjabi University, Patiala, India

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