Scientists find evidence of prehistoric massacre in Europe

August 17, 2015 byFrank Jordans
Scientists find evidence of prehistoric massacre in Europe
Photo released Monday Aug. 17, 2015 by researcher Christian Meyer shows the fractured skull of an about eight-years-old child with a digital mark (3cm=1.18 inch) to show the size. The perimortem cranial injury in the frontal bone of the child that lived in the Stone Age was found on skeletal remains in a grave near Frankfurt, Germany, that bear signs of terrible violence some 7,000 years ago, rare evidence, scientists say, of a massacre among Europe's prehistoric people. (Christian Meyer via AP)

Scientists say they have found rare evidence of a prehistoric massacre in Europe after discovering a 7,000-year-old mass grave with skeletal remains from some of the continent's first farmers bearing terrible wounds.

Archaeologists who painstakingly examined the bones of some 26 men, women and children buried in the Stone Age grave site at Schoeneck-Kilianstaedten, near Frankfurt, say they found blunt force marks to the head, arrow wounds and deliberate efforts to smash at least half of the victims' shins—either to stop them from running away or as a grim message to survivors.

"It was either torture or mutilation. We can't say for sure whether the victims were still alive," said Christian Meyer, one of the authors of the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Meyer said the findings from Schoeneck-Kilianstaedten bolster theories put forward after the earlier discovery of two other grave sites in Germany and Austria. At all three sites, the victims and the perpetrators appeared to have been from the Linearbandkeramik—or LBK—culture, a farming people who arrived in central Europe about 5,500 B.C. Their name derives from the German phrase for "linear band ceramics," a reference to the style of their pottery.

Intriguingly, the sites have all been dated toward the end of the LBK's 600-year presence, suggesting that members of this culture—which is thought to have developed in what is now Hungary and spread along the Danube River—may have turned on each other.

Scientists find evidence of prehistoric massacre in Europe
Photo released Monday Aug. 17, 2015, by researcher Christian Meyer shows the fractured skull of an about 3-5 years-old child with a digital mark (3cm=1.18 inch) to show the size. The perimortem cranial injury of the child that lived in the Stone Age was found on skeletal remains in a grave near Frankfurt, Germany, that bear signs of terrible violence some 7,000 years ago, rare evidence, scientists say, of a massacre among Europe's prehistoric people. (Christian Meyer via AP)

"It's about finding patterns. One mass grave was spectacular, but it was just a single grave. But when several such sites are found from the same period, then a pattern emerges," said Meyer.

In their article, the authors suggested that "the new evidence ... in conjunction with previous results, indicates that massacres of entire communities were not isolated occurrences but rather were frequent features of the last phases of the LBK."

Chris Scarre, an archaeologist at the University of Durham, England, who wasn't involved in the study, said its conclusions seemed well supported by the evidence.

"What is particularly interesting is the level of violence. Not just the suppression of a rival community—if that is what it was—but the egregious and systematic breaking of the lower legs," said Scarre. "It suggests the use of terror tactics as part of this inter-community violence."

Meyer, an anthropologist at the University of Mainz, Germany, said nobody can say for sure what prompted the killings so long after the fact. But it's possible to put forward theories, based on what's known about the LBK culture and the conditions they faced. For example, the end of LBK culture coincided with a period of climate change.

"The LBK population had expanded considerably, and this increases the potential for conflict," said Meyer. "Also, the LBK were farmers, they settled. So unlike hunter gatherers, who could move away to avoid conflict, these people couldn't just escape. Add to this the fact that there may have been a period of drought that constrained resources, causing conflicts to erupt."

Meyer said the theory of conflict between different groups within the LBK is supported by the existence of an apparent ancient border near the Schoeneck-Kilianstaedten site. Archaeologists have found that flint was traded on either side of the divide but not necessarily across it—suggesting the two groups did not see each other as kin, he said.

The attackers, however, spared some members of the group, with victims skewed toward young children, adult men and older women.

"It's likely that the young women, who are missing in the , were kidnapped by the attackers," said Meyer.

Explore further: Human history preserved in tree rings of prehistoric wooden wells

More information: The massacre mass grave of Schöneck-Kilianstädten reveals new insights into collective violence in Early Neolithic Central Europe, PNAS, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1504365112

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13 comments

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katesisco
1 / 5 (4) Aug 17, 2015
Odd. Drought would affect all. Seems as if there was mental instability. Perhaps due to radon or methane or carbon dioxide or even hydrogen sulfide. All unseen so the victims would have no idea of the cause. I suspect the women of the killers were suffering from some form of disorder that caused the loss of fetuses or even caused sterility. The other tribe perhaps had no forbidding environmental aspect that prevented a successful pregnancy.
Remember the Venus idol and the obvious glandular defects.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 19, 2015
Tribal warfare. It has been going on since the dawn of humanity. Apes engage in it. In conjunction with technology it has caused our brains to swell to their current fragile and unwieldy size.

Religion learned how to exploit it and maximize its effect. It learned how to unite many warring tribes over entire continents for the purpose of outgrowing and overrunning its enemies, and of establishing order.

But it is obsolete and an existential danger. It needs to go.
thematrix606
not rated yet Aug 20, 2015
Alien abductions! :3
Stevepidge
1 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2015
Tribal warfare. It has been going on since the dawn of humanity. Apes engage in it. In conjunction with technology it has caused our brains to swell to their current fragile and unwieldy size.

Religion learned how to exploit it and maximize its effect. It learned how to unite many warring tribes over entire continents for the purpose of outgrowing and overrunning its enemies, and of establishing order.

But it is obsolete and an existential danger. It needs to go.


Just when you think you've won, you've lost. Religion is like the breath of men, it rises and falls only to rise again.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Aug 21, 2015
Those peaceful native Americans:

"Archaeologists Find Skull Rack at Aztec Temple"
http://www.realcl...360.html
gkam
1 / 5 (2) Aug 21, 2015
They were libertarians, Ryggy, with no government.

That is what happens when folk get the idea they are special and free to do what they want.
Moltvic
5 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2015
*sigh* No doubt the work of prehistoric Nazis...
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Aug 22, 2015
That is what happens when folk get the idea they are special and free to do what they want
Well george the lying cheating psychopath wants to be free to lie and cheat and victimize others.

Is this why you're being treated down at the VA psycho ward?

We can only speculate given your sorry record of lying and cheating here.
prehistoric nazis
Nationalism is one of the greatest extensions of tribalism ever conceived, exceeded only by religion itself.

An artificial identity can be created, uniting traditional tribes over entire regions for the purpose of building large armies and waging preengineered wars.

Nationalism did not exist in prehistory.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 22, 2015
it rises and falls only to rise again
'Sucker born every minute.'

Dan dennet, anti religionist and philo, had a great idea which he gave a TED talk on. He suggests that a course in comparative religion be mandatory in grade schools.

This would show kids that, among other things, religions are identical in the basic promises they make; immortality, wish-granting, miracles, retribution, special dispensation, etc.

It would also teach them about the archeological record which proves that the people described in the holy books never existed and the events described there never happened.

Generations of people educated in this manner would be better equipped to resist the temptation of religion.
gkam
3 / 5 (4) Aug 22, 2015
"Is this why you're being treated down at the VA psycho ward?"
-------------------------------

These are the words of a draft-dodger, embarrassed at his own pathetic lack of a life.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Aug 23, 2015
Name calling doesn't answer the question.

What is the nature of your sickness? What did you do that forced you into treatment? Did you threaten others as you do here?

Have your doctors ever used the term psychopath?

You felt it important enough to disclose this. It's equally important that you provide the details.
EnricM
1 / 5 (1) Aug 24, 2015
Odd. Drought would affect all.


We aren't talking about "tribes" but about a whole territory spanning several European countries.

And even a limited drought could have an amplified effect on a population which had been growing over time. The cause of the disorders would not be the draught itself but the social disorder it could cause. This has actually happened a few times in Europe in historical times.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Aug 24, 2015
The cause of the disorders would not be the draught itself but the social disorder it could cause
Ahaahaaaaa read this a few times and try to keep a straight face.

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