Wayne E. Lee (2016): Waging War: Conflict, Culture, and Innovation in World History https://books.google.com/?id=hbyYCgAAQBAJ, excerpts: "When in 1996 Lawrence Keeley published War Before Civilization. Keeley made an impassioned plea for reimagining the role of violence in human experience, and he made the striking claim that prestate societies experienced extreme male fatality rates. Keeley's work and additional studies have settled on the somewhat shocking estimates... [that] between 15 and 25% of males and about 5% of females" in human forager societies died from warfare. This per capita rate far exceeds those of later state-based societies. Since Keeley's work, archaeologists and anthropologists have renewed the debate begun by Hobbes and Rousseau. To use the simplest terms, as suggested in a recent review, there are the 'deep rooters', who believe in the long evolutionary history of intergroup violence, and the "inventors", who argue that human conflict emerged more recently because of changes in human social organization...

Some key traits in chimpanzee group conflicts seem to recur in prestate human conflict. First, conflict is not endemic but episodic. Being a neighbor does not guarantee conflict, but territories are clearly marked, patrolled, and defended, and usually a dangerous buffer zone develops between those territories. Chimpanzees in one community avoided the border area of their territory, spending 75 percent of their time in the central 35 percent of their range, suggesting an awareness of the threat of conflict even when conflict was not constant. Second, casualty rates can be very high (in Goodall's Gombe community, 30 percent of the original male population was killed by other chimps after the group fissioned) but are accrued over time, not in single attacks. Third, conflict begins not through simple "aggression" but rather in response to ecological pressures and perceptions of advantage. Specifically, conflicts begin when one group enjoys an overall numerical advantage. Attacks are launched only when a local numerical edge exists....

From about 125,000 to 70,000 yearsago, modern humans in Africa began to display more creative behaviors, including some indicating conscious ness, complex problem solving, early language formation, and ritual. Almost simultaneously, and almost certainly related, about 125,000 years ago H. sapiens began to migrate out of Africa, into the Middle East, and, as recently discovered at Jebel Faya, across the Arabian Peninsula to the Persian Gulf. A recent find in Israel confirms the simultaneous existence there of both Neandertals and modern humans at least 55,000 years ago, but H. sapiens' migrations further north stalled, perhaps due to competition with resident Homo populations there, as well as continued glacial conditions. Genetic studies, however, suggest that modern humans continued to move east into South Asia and beyond. The recent discovery of the oldest examples of human art in Indonesia (roughly forty thousand years old) probably reflects this migration.

Second, around 70,000 to 40,000 years ago, human cognitive development accelerated further, marked by a diversification of tool types and of materials used, distant sourcing for materials, art and ornamentation, and likely a new stage in language development. There is certainly no doubt that one conse quence was a rapid population expansion that saw H. sapiens spread across

H. sapiens's enhanced social capability and new technologies (notably the atlatl spear thrower developed at least 30,000 to 40,000 years ago) gave them a competitive advantage as they expanded into territories inhabited by other archaic humans. In some theories, the larger group size may itself have promoted technological experimentation and knowledge retention. It has long been theorized or suggested that the in-migration of modern humans pres sured, isolated, and eventually eliminated the Neandertal population, if not through actual genocide, then by pushing them into more and more marginal zones where their reproduction rates suffered. There is little physical evidence that suggests that this competition was violent, but some evidence does exist both of intra-Neandertal violence and violence between Neandertals and modern humans. And given what we know about the role of women as victims in much of human warfare, the recent discovery of Neandertal DNA surviving in present day non-African humans does not necessarily suggest a peaceful process of interbreeding....

As in later periods, the evidence for violence is artistic, skeletal, and technological. There are several examples of early cave art (ca. 20,000-12,000 BP) depict ing human figures pierced by spears or arrows. And there is skeletal evidence from the Neandertal period in Europe of violent death and cannibalism, argu ably for dietary (rather than ritual) purposes. One of the most dramatic examples has emerged relatively recently from the El Sidrón site in Asturias, Spain, dated to approximately 50,000 years ago. At least twelve Neandertal individuals were found in the deposit (six adults, three adolescents, two juveniles, and one infant three of the adults can be identified as female and three adults and the three adolescents as male). Many (if not all) of the remains possessed cut marks and other signs of butchering, and recent genetic analysis has revealed that all three adult men had the same mitochondrial DNA, suggesting that they were brothers, cousins, or uncles, as did four other individuals, while all three adult females came from different lineages. In short, this was a family group, probably massacred in one incident, by a neighboring separate group of Neandertals, and then butchered by them for food....

The best evidence for warfare prior to the development of settled agricultural communities comes from the skeletal evidence of massacres. Sedentism based on intensive local foraging emerged in the Near East approximately 13,000 BCE, with agriculture following at around 9000 BCE. In Central Europe sedentism emerged around 10,500 BCE, with agriculture arriving from the Near East by around 5500 BCE. Right on the cusp of the emergence of agriculture in Europe, and thus undermining the contention that early farmers enjoyed a period of peace as a result of their relative prosperity, is the massacre site at Talheim, near Heilbronn in Germany, dating from 5000 BCE. The site is a mass burial of thirty-four individuals (eighteen adults and sixteen children). The bodies were piled indiscriminately on top of each other, apparently simply dumped, all the victims having died violently. Careful study of the injuries has determined that:

the majority of the victims were attacked from behind as they were standing, presumably as they tried to protect themselves or flee. Having already been struck, many individuals were then hit again as they knelt or even lay on the ground.... In addition to the majority of the skulls being smashed, serious injuries were also inflicted upon other parts of the body—the arms, legs, and pelvis.

Recent studies have gone further and suggest that the massacre was committed by outside aggressors seeking to completely destroy the settlement and take over their territory and resources....

Sedentism and agriculture represented an increase in subsistence carrying capacity, initially reducing the impulse for conflict between similar peoples, But sedentism, and especially agriculture and the domestication of animals, increased the reward for foragers of raiding sedentary villages. There was now "stuff" to be taken, and mobile domesticated animals, present in the Middle East after about 8500 BCE, were the easiest thing to steal. Such raids by small foraging bands against larger nucleated towns would have been risky, however....

The archaeological evidence for prestate warfare in the agricultural Neolithic (fortification, settlement destruction, paintings, and weapons development) seems at least as undeniable as that for the era of states. Indeed, we can jump backwards right to the very beginning of the Neolithic to two of the earliest agricultural communities, one at Jericho, founded about 9000 BCE near the Jordan River in the modern West Bank, and the other at Çatalhöyük, occupied roughly from 7500 BCE to 5700 BCE in what is now southern Turkey. Both sites are critical to our understanding of human development since both were among the first "towns" in human history, and both were associated with the earliest phases in the invention of agriculture.

Jericho seems to have been a nucleated town first, fortified later, with agriculture arriving somewhat before the wall, but this sequence is still unclear. What is undeniable, however, is that by around 8000 BCE Jericho's inhabitants had surrounded themselves with an extensive elliptical wall, nearly four meters tall, two meters thick at the base, and incorporating a massive circular tower eight and half meters tall, with an interior circular stair case.... Çatalhöyük is not precisely "walled," but was built much like the cliff dwellings of the American southwest, in which many individual dwellings are conjoined, lack ground-level exterior....

Evolution of cooperative altruism within human groups, suggesting that "for many groups and for substantial periods of human prehistory, lethal group conflict may have been frequent enough to support the proliferation of quite costly forms of altruism." In this way, as much of the rest of this chapter will show, cooperation and conflict proved to be two sides of the same coin, each reinforcing the other, as one group enhanced cooperation to succeed at conflict, and the persistence of conflict necessitated ever more complex forms of cooperation. Therefore, competition and its most dramatic form, violent conflict, acted as a selection pressure on human biological evolution, favoring the selection of group behaviors like male solidarity, a "shoot on sight" attitude toward intrusive strangers, the ability to incorporate the defeated remnants of other groups, risk calculation in assessing the threat of other groups, and, most importantly, greater social complexity to sustain larger group sizes which provided an important advantage in violent conflict.

It is this last characteristic that points us to the other side of the conflict coin: cooperation. For humans, being "good" at conflict depends on more than physical size, keen eyesight, or other physical attributes. It also means being good at cooperating. Recent studies of infants suggest that the ability and desire to reward cooperators exists at the genetic level, and ethnographic work among bands of foragers frequently shows that not only do they depend on cooperation within the group, but the group actively controls aggressive, dominance-seeking individuals—although they never fully eliminate dominant males nor their quest for dominance.31 Summarized another way by anthropologist Bruce Knauft, "Collective socialization in gregarious groups ... pro vided a distinctive evolutionary niche for the genus Homo"....

Flipping the coin back to conflict, however, humans have tended to fill up the landscape quickly. From at least the rapid human migrations around Eurasia from about 40,000 to 60,000 years ago they have spread rapidly across the entire globe, moving as foragers and presumably impelled by more than simple curiosity. The most reasonable model for most of human biological history is one of small kin groups existing in a universe of similarly equipped and similarly subsisting kin groups, bouncing off each other, fissioning as they grew too large, probably mostly in a watchful kind of "peace," since rarely would any single group possess a sustained advantage over an other. But compete they did, and that competition would continuously refine the intragroup dynamics discussed above. Furthermore, given the small size of the group during the evolutionary period of human prehistory, accident or chance encounters that killed one or more males would render that group vulnerable to a nearby group that had not been reduced in that way. The size of the group was critical, and it is in this context that we must understand the huge selective advantage conveyed by the ability, perhaps first biological, and then cultural, to enlarge the group size. It is also important to emphasize that the advantage of a larger group was not just about winning a "battle." Group size enhanced group survival because it represented their ability to retaliate against any other group that attacked it....

Some caveats are necessary to all this. To claim a role for biological evolution in producing potentially violent ethnocentrism is not to claim that we are trapped in these behaviors. Culture can overrule biology, especially in group behaviors, but this argument does suggest the power behind such behavior. And asserting that this process of cultural evolution has occurred does not entail that there was only one track of human experience, or that one track was "better" than another, or more progressive, or even inevitable. Nevertheless, I argue, as anthropologist Bruce Trigger has written, that there has been "a strong tendency" for sociocultural evolution to move in the general direction of greater complexity." Put simply, as described above, more complex societies compete more successfully with less complex ones for control of territory and other resources. "As a result of such competition, in all but the poorest and most marginal environments and increasingly even in these) smaller-scale societies must either acquire the key attributes of more complex societies or be displaced or absorbed by them." Human cooperation and social complexity evolved both biologically and culturally in the face of human conflict. They were and remain two sides of the same coin....

This narrative of expansion from the origin point of agriculture in the Middle East northwestward into Europe has been supported by genetic studies of early farmers in Europe as well as by other forms of archaeological analysis. Farming peoples, not just the idea of farming, migrated into Europe from the Near East-although some hunter-gatherer populations in Europe successfully retreated and survived and/or adopted farming and greater social complexity. Furthermore, the archaeological evidence regard ing the expansion of these farmers, some of it reviewed above with respect to Talheim and Ofnet, clearly indicates that not only was the expansion not always peaceful, but, after pushing back the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, the new farming arrivals turned on each other in increasingly lethal competition....

A Lord among Lords and the Rise of the State: This process of socially stratified societies expanding and competing for territory in turn created more complex societies, as each sought competitive advantage. These evolved through subtly differentiated stages including petty chiefdoms, chiefdoms, inchoate states, petty states, and eventually states. This process was not unilinear. Imagine, for example, a regional cluster of linguistically related agricultural villages, politically autonomous, each partially socially stratified, and each more or less controlled by a single kin network, with a "head-of-kin" figure. A talented (or lucky) kin leader, seeking to cement his local control, perhaps especially in the face of declining local resources relative to population growth, might successfully mobilize his village to attack a neighboring village, subordinating the defeated population, further stratifying this now expanded and more complex society, with himself more firmly ensconced at the top-now someone we might call a "petty chief". Further luck and further success in using his now-expanded manpower against the other remaining single villages might elevate him (and his original village) further, the village becoming the capital of a chiefdom and he a "paramount chief." Bad luck, or an alliance by individual villages against him, however, might destroy or devastate his original village after his first successful attack, and that incipient chiefdom would "cycle" back down to a simple village....

Once the enemy's village, town, or city had been taken and held, since the enemy sedentary population was already stratified, "subordination" actually meant the replacement or co-option of the local elite, who would then con tinue to exercise their control over the local laboring (or enslaved) population, now at the behest of a more distant center, In this way the successful ruler of the emergent state was actually a lord among lords. Every regional center had its own "lord" and its own regional elite. The regions were nominally obedient to the state center, but, as any historian can tell you, the relationship actually was riddled by power games and strategies ranging from self-interested cooperation (perhaps the norm), to truculence, to tax skimming, to collusion with other state rulers, to outright rebellion. Such competition among elites is the usual stuff of history...


#noted #2019-10-20

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