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Bloody Stone Age: war in the Neolithic

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Author Topic: Bloody Stone Age: war in the Neolithic  (Read 89 times)
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« on: April 08, 2009, 01:37:24 am »

Old wounds: new evidence
Many injuries to the skeleton are difficult to interpret, as there may be a number of ways in which a particular injury could be incurred. Fractured ribs, for example, can be sustained in various ways, mostly through accidents such as falls. It is generally impossible to be specific about the origin of these kinds of fractures in archaeological bone.
Some types of injury, however, may be more consistent with a particular cause. Fractures of the skull are a good example. Head injuries inflicted with weapons often produce patterns of fracture that are more easily recognised as such than wounds to other parts of the skeleton. Improved understanding of the properties of bone fracture has led to our recognition of a growing number of Neolithic head injuries consistent with violence, many of which might previously have been interpreted as damage after burial.
Such signs of violent assault are apparent throughout much of Europe, and not least in Britain. These include a number of healed head injuries apparently inflicted with blunt, club-like implements, as well as unhealed fractures inflicted very close to (if not actually at) the time of death. The latter include a mixture of sharp-force and blunt-force trauma, possibly inflicted with stone axes. 

Then there are projectile wounds. This category is particularly unequivocal where fragments of arrowheads remain embedded in bone, although recent experimental research has revealed that it is sometimes possible to recognise such injuries even where the ‘murder weapon’ is no longer present. In a recent research project examining evidence of cranial trauma, Mick Wysocki, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Central Lancashire, and Rick Schulting, Lecturer in Scientific and Prehistoric Archaeology from Oxford University, produced a conservative estimate (based on the view that some examples might be misdiagnosed) that 26 out of 350 crania examined (7.4%) displayed traumatic injuries.
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