Early ‘Warfare’: Battle In Kenya Left 27 Dead – 10,000 Years Ago


Skeleton of a man with club wounds at the site of Nataruk massacre (© Marta Mirazon Lahr, enhanced by Fabio Lahr)


Two fighting boys are asked, “Who started it?” If they’ve been paying attention to the latest news from Cambridge University and Kenya, they could answer, simultaneously, “The hunter-gatherers, about ten thousand years ago!”

A study conducted over the past few years by Cambridge University researchers suggests it was about that long ago that those predecessors of ours, described by Wikipedia as “an early human society,” first engaged in some degree of ‘warfare’. Changes in the landscape at an area called Nataruk in Kenya, near a former lagoon – long since dried up – once near the shore of Lake Turkana (now a fraction of its size 10,000 or so years ago) have revealed the remains of 27 people, age-dated to a point that far back in time. The 21 adults and six children were brutally slain, by blows to the head by blunt objects, arrows and at least one sharp blade – a portion of which was found imbedded in one man’s skull.

The website sciencefocus.com says that in hunter-gatherer times, violence between groups often resulted in the slaughtering of men, while the losing side’s women and children were absorbed in the winner’s ‘community’. But the Nataruk massacre represented something different: Apparently no one on the losing side survived.

That website notes that one victim in that incident was a women in the late stages of pregnancy who may have been bound when she was brutally murdered.

While there’s no way to determine what that struggle at Nataruk was about, a possible reason could have been a territorial dispute in an area that, 10,000 years ago, “the easy access to water and fishing made it an ideal place to live out a prehistoric life.”



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