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

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Fernández-Crespo, Teresa; Ordoño, Javier; Etxeberria, Francisco; Herrasti, Lourdes; Armendariz, Ángel; Vegas, José I; Schulting, Rick J
Year of Publication: 2023
Journal: Sci Rep
Volume: 13
Issue: 1
Pagination: 17103
Date Published: 2023 Nov 02
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 2045-2322
Keywords: Adolescent, Adult, Aggression, Europe, Humans, Male, Spain, Violence, Warfare

This paper explores the nature and extent of conflict in Late Neolithic Europe based on expanded skeletal evidence for violence from the San Juan ante Portam Latinam rockshelter in present-day Spain (ca. 3380-3000 cal. BC). The systematic osteological re-examination has identified 65 unhealed and 89 healed traumas-of which 77 were previously undocumented-consistent with aggression. They affect 23.1% of the 338 individuals represented. Adolescent and adult males are particularly affected (44.9% of the 107 identified), comprising 97.6% of unhealed trauma and 81.7% of healed trauma recorded in individuals whose sex could be estimated and showing higher frequencies of injuries per individual than other demographic subgroups. Results suggest that many individuals, essentially men, were exposed to violence and eventually killed in battle and raids, since warriorship is mainly restricted to this demographic in many societies. The proportion of casualties is likely to have been far greater than indicated by the 10.1% individuals exhibiting unhealed trauma, given the presence of isolated cases of unhealed postcranial trauma and of arrowheads potentially having impacted into soft tissues. This, together with skeletal indicators of poor health and the possible socioeconomic outcomes evidenced in the region, suggest wider social impacts, which may relate to a more sophisticated and formalized way of warfare than previously appreciated in the European Neolithic record.

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-43026-9
Alternate Journal: Sci Rep