2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
A 25-30-year-old woman whose skin was pulled from her chin over her face before she died
Anthropologists from Chile and the United States have conducted a study of 194 human remains from burial grounds in Atacama, belonging to the region's first farmers (1000 BC - 600 AD). They found that more than 20 percent of the individuals surveyed were physically injured and about 10 percent were near-death (all between the ages of 25 and 30). Researchers believe that the reasons for this high level of violence lie in the shortage of fresh water and fertile land in the face of demographic growth. Article published in the Journal of Anthropological Archeology.
A high level of interpersonal violence is characteristic of many ancient populations of South America from different time periods. Researchers have noted a high frequency of damage on remains from the Atacama Desert, dating back to the hunter-gatherer and fishermen communities of the Chinchorro culture (10-4 thousand years ago). Thus, violence in these archaic groups was not accompanied by population growth, nor by the complication of social ties, and was limited to individuals originating from the same region.
Anthropologists suggest that such behavior was part of the sociocultural perceptions of local residents, serving as a mechanism for resolving conflicts. In general, the ancient inhabitants of Atacama had to adapt to the difficult natural conditions of the region, for example, they learned to drink water with a high arsenic content without harm to health. However, the Neolithic Revolution only exacerbated the scarcity of resources in this area.
Location of parking lots in the region
Vivienne Stenden of the University of Tarapaca worked with scientists from Chile and the United States to study the Neolithic societies of the first farmers of the Atacama Desert (1000 BC - 600 AD) to assess the level of violence among the local people. Scientists have focused on studying the different types of trauma and other physical evidence of violence present on human remains, types of weapons, and the likely involvement of non-local populations in acts of violence.
Injuries associated with interpersonal violence, scientists studied the remains of 194 adults (over 17-18 years old) from six burial grounds located in the Azapa Valley in northern Chile, excavated in the 1970-1980s. These findings showed varying degrees of preservation and completeness, ranging from whole bodies with preserved soft tissues to individual skulls or damaged bones.
Of the 194 remains examined, 40 (21 percent) contained various injuries that were associated with interpersonal violence. Scientists did not find a statistically significant difference between gender and injury frequency. Of the total sample, 20 individuals (10 percent) had pre-death injuries, mostly skull fractures, and all of the dead were between the ages of 25–30. Death injuries are three times more common among men. This may indicate fights with the use of weapons - spear throwers, slings, maces or knives. Healed injuries in women can be attributed to domestic violence.
Suicide injuries sustained as a result of a strong blow to the face and vault of the skull
Near-death trauma to the face, affecting the upper jaw, frontal, lacrimal and ethmoid bones
Rock carvings showing scenes of interpersonal violence
Some people suffered from severe fractures of the skull, which resulted in severe head damage, as well as multiple blows to the arms, legs, chest and pelvis. A weapon like a mace was probably used to inflict such damage, but archaeologists have not found it in any of the surveyed areas. Two people had stone arrowheads inside their bodies, apparently thrown from a distance. Scientists speculate that the victims were ambushed. One of the most severe injuries was suffered by a 25-30-year-old woman who, before her death, had the skin pulled from her chin over her face, causing deep agony.
Anthropologists have noted an extremely high level of violence among the first farmers of the Azapa Valley. They believe that the reasons for this may lie in disputes over living space and resources - fresh water and fertile land, especially in conditions of demographic growth.
Earlier on N + 1, we talked about other evidence of ancient violence. Thus, the Jebel Sahaba burial ground arose from a series of armed conflicts more than 13 thousand years ago, and the growth of violence in the Early Bronze Age forced the women of Anatolia to take up arms.