Recent Analysis Of Human Remains Excavated From Spain Suggests That Large-Scale Warfare May Have Occurred Significantly Earlier In Europe Than Previously Thought

jordi - - illustrative purposes only

Human bones that were collected from a prehistoric mass burial site have revealed that large-scale warfare may have taken place much earlier in Europe than originally thought.

The remains were excavated from the San Juan ante Portam Latinam (SJAPL), a small rock shelter located in northern Spain. More than 300 individuals were buried there during a time when the Neolithic period had begun to give way to a new era.

After a team of researchers re-examined the bones, they found that they dated back 5,000 years ago, during the Neolithic period. This era lasted between 9,000 and 4,000 years in Europe.

The latest study has resulted in evidence showing that the large number of individuals buried at the site may have been victims in the earliest case of major violent conflict in Europe.

Previously, experts had believed the earliest major instance of warfare in Europe transpired during the Bronze Age, which occurred a millennium later than the Neolithic period. The Bronze Age lasted roughly 4,000 to 2,800 years.

According to Teresa Fernández-Crespo, a co-author of the study, this war was the battle of Tollense in Germany. It appeared to have been a one-time event, and current estimates indicate that approximately 4,000 warriors had fought at the site.

Smaller confrontations between neighboring communities have been around since the very first humans, but as societies shifted from hunting and gathering to agriculture, it seemed that organized, longer-lasting violence accompanied the shift. In farming-based societies, more people settled into a single area at once, leading to higher populations and greater concentrations of power and resources.

In the past, research suggested that conflicts during Bronze Age Europe involved short raids, lasting up to a few days, with only about 20 to 30 individuals involved. So, researchers came to the conclusion that Neolithic societies were not capable of forming larger-scale conflicts. However, the newest findings from the study have disproven this theory.

To dive deeper into Neolithic conflict, the human remains from the rock shelter were analyzed again. Initially, they had been discovered in 1985 when a bulldozer was paving a pathway, upturning the dirt. Further excavations at the site resulted in the identification of 338 individuals.

jordi – – illustrative purposes only

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