War arose recently, anthropologists contend | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

REAL SCIENCE. REAL NEWS.

Help us keep you informed.

Support Science News.


News

War arose recently, anthropologists contend

Study of hunter-gatherers finds few lethal raids on opposing groups

By
1:29pm, July 18, 2013

A cross-cultural analysis found that nomadic hunter-gatherer populations rarely organize to attack other groups, with the exception of members of Australia's indigenous Tiwi society (shown). 

A battle has broken out among scientists trying to untangle the origins of war.

The fighting is over whether hunter-gatherer communities in recent centuries have tended more toward war — defined as banding together in groups to kill people in other populations — than toward one-on-one attacks within their own communities. A second front has broken out over how to extrapolate from modern behavior to the Stone Age. Some  anthropologists regard  the nomadic groups as helpful if imperfect models of Stone Age human behavior. Others suspect that too much evolutionary change and irregular contact with outsiders make hunter-gatherers unreliable signposts of the past.

Lethal attacks on one community by another rarely occurred during the 19th and 20th centuries, according to a new analysis of data previously gathered from nomadic hunter-gatherer populations. Murders of one person by another in the same group accounted for a

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content