Skeletons found in pit in France offer evidence of Neolithic warfare

December 14, 2015 by Bob Yirka, report

Examples of chop marks on left humeral shafts (scale-bar = 10mm; black bar = 5mm). Credit: Antiquity (2015). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2015.180
(—A small team of researchers from several institutions in France, studying 6000 year-old skeletal remains found in a pit in eastern France is reporting that the remains included a bottom layer of just arm bones and a top layer consisting of the full skeletons of several adults and children. In their paper published in the journal Antiquity, the researchers describe the arrangement of the bones and their condition and offer some ideas regarding how the bones likely came to be in the pit.

At the bottom of the 2 meter deep pit, the researchers report, were the scattered pieces and bits of , along with seven human arms, all from the left side of the body. On top of those were piled the full of one woman, two men and four children. Just one of the skeletons had an arm missing—one of the males, but it was not yet known if one of the arms underneath was his. The condition of the skeletons, the team suggests, indicates that the bones once belonged to people who were killed in some type of warfare—there was damage that appeared inflicted by axes or other such implements. Testing of the bones indicated they were all from a period between 5,500 and 6,500 years ago, putting them in the Neolithic period. A layer of sediment was on top of the skeletons and on top of that was the of another woman, whose body had clearly been put there long after the bones underneath.

The team notes that there was also a piece of jewelry among the skeletons, an arrowhead, a pig jaw and the skeletons of two hares, which the group notes, might have simply fallen in the pit and died because they could not jump out.

General view of pit 157 (a); and plan of the complete or almost complete bodies (b). Credit: Antiquity (2015). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2015.180

Such pits were not unusual for the time the researchers point out, what is new is that the bones appear to have belonged to victims of warfare and that there was a collection of severed arms. The researchers suggest the severed arms might have been part of a trophy collection, though they note that it would represent the first evidence of such a practice for the people of that time period. Taken together, the evidence rules out the placement of the and skeletal remains as part of a funerary process, they add.

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More information: Fanny Chenal et al. A farewell to arms: a deposit of human limbs and bodies at Bergheim, France, c. 4000 BC, Antiquity (2015). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2015.180

Between c. 4500 and 3500 BC, the deposition of human remains within circular pits was widespread throughout Central and Western Europe. Attempts at forming explanatory models for this practice have proven difficult due to the highly variable nature of these deposits. Recent excavations at Bergheim in Alsace have revealed a particularly unusual variant of this phenomenon featuring a number of amputated upper limbs. The evidence from this site challenges the simplicity of existing interpretations, and demands a more critical focus on the archaeological evidence for acts of systematic violence during this period.

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not rated yet Dec 14, 2015
Why would you throw your trophies into a pit? The horror, the horror.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Dec 14, 2015
Why would you throw your trophies into a pit? The horror, the horror.

...she puts the lotion on the skin...
3 / 5 (4) Dec 14, 2015
As every modern neolithic thinker knew, only dead humans sacrificed to the corn god makes the plants grow, and only when the stars are aligned.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Dec 14, 2015
As every modern neolithic thinker knew, only dead humans sacrificed to the corn god makes the plants grow, and only when the stars are aligned.
IMHO you may have a lot more accuracy than you believe...

after all, sacrificing a whole nearby village of "interlopers" and "non-believers in the real way of living" or "the one true god" (etc) would be pleasing to their gods, right?

heck, even the modern Abrahamic religions still cling to that part of their biblical heritage
(ISIS, homophobia, westboro baptists, and much more)
3 / 5 (4) Dec 14, 2015
IMHO you may have a lot more accuracy than you believe...

I assumed Joseph Campbell and James George Frazier didn't to lie to me. Frazier wrote about Catholics putting statues of the Saints in their fields during a drought, their reasoning being that while God didn't give enough of a crap for them to make it rain, He might show mercy to the iconography of the people He actually likes.


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