Attack 10,000 years ago is earliest known act of warfare | Science News

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Attack 10,000 years ago is earliest known act of warfare

Hunter-gatherers’ skeletons show signs of being shot by arrows, clubbed and maybe even bound

1:00pm, January 20, 2016

WAR CASUALTY  Scientists have found skeletal remains from the oldest known act of war. Between 9,500 and 10,500 years ago, members of one African hunter-gatherer group attacked and killed 12 people from another group. Among the victims was this man, whose head injuries suggest he was clubbed to death.

Along the edge of a dried-out lagoon in East Africa, researchers have discovered skeletal relics of the oldest known instance of small-scale warfare.

In a planned assault, attackers killed 12 hunter-gatherers between around 9,500 and 10,500 years ago, say biological anthropologist Marta Mirazón Lahr of the University of Cambridge and her colleagues. The skeletons unearthed at Nataruk, a site located near Kenya’s Lake Turkana, show that ancient hunter-gatherers were capable of deadly group raids, a precursor of the more complex forms of war launched by societies and nations, the scientists report online January 20 in Nature.

“Lethal raids by competing groups were part of life for hunter-gatherer communities at the time of the Nataruk attack,” Lahr says.

The new report adds to the debate over whether war originated tens of thousands of years ago or relatively recently (

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