Study on prehistoric violence published

February 20, 2017 by Melanie Johnson
Study on prehistoric violence
Mark Allen, longtime Cal Poly Pomona anthropology professor, has been published in a prestigious journal. Credit: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

A longtime Cal Poly Pomona anthropology professor who studies violence among prehistoric people in California has been published in a prestigious journal.

Professor Mark Allen's study, titled "Resource scarcity drives lethal aggression among prehistoric hunter-gathers in central California," was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, one of the top journals highlighting the general sciences. Allen teamed up with professors at U.C. Davis, the University of Utah, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and an archeologist for the Sacramento-based Millennia Archeological Consulting.

"You have to have something significant," Allen says of what it takes to be published in the journal. "You have to have good evidence. As archeologists, you don't get the data you want most of the time. We are typically dealing with fragmented evidence."

Allen says there are two views related to the origins of violence and warfare in humans – one view that humans in earlier times were peaceful and lived in harmony and a second view that there has always been competition for resources, war and violence.

The second view was confirmed in Allen's study. Using an archeological database of human burials of remains from thousands of Central California inhabitants going back more than 1,000 years, Allen and his fellow researchers looked at the wound marks from physical traumas they suffered. They also compared that evidence to the environment and looked at the way the communities were socially organized, he says.

They found that California had the highest population density in all of North America, with lots of small groups living in close proximity. There were approximately 100 different languages spoken in California at the time. The data showed how the scarcity of resources and violence correlates.

"When people are stressed out and worried about protecting the group, they are willing to be aggressive," he says. "Violence is about resources for the group."

The data related to the remains showed that about 7 percent of the population at that time had evidence of forced traumas, whether they were shot by an arrow, stabbed or bludgeoned. For females it was 5 percent and for males it was 11 percent, a percentage of violent trauma not even reached during World War II, Allen says.

Allen, who teaches North American and California archeology, says that his research on the origins of and warfare speaks to what is happening in modern times.

"It's important to study it because if we are ever going to have hope of stopping it, we have to know the cause," he says. "If we want to reduce conflict, we need to figure out what to do about resource stress."

Explore further: Allen's Hummingbird boom missed by breeding bird surveys

More information: Mark W. Allen et al. Resource scarcity drives lethal aggression among prehistoric hunter-gatherers in central California, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1607996113

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TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (5) Feb 20, 2017
""Resource scarcity drives lethal aggression among prehistoric hunter-gathers in central California"

-This should read 'chronic overpopulation drives lethal aggression among prehistoric hunter-gathers in central California'

Overpopulation has plagued the human race ever since we became able to hunt the predators that were keeping our numbers in check.

And every subsequent advance in technology has only made it worse.

We ate of the tree of knowledge and have suffered for it ever since.

"It's important to study it because if we are ever going to have hope of stopping it, we have to know the cause"

-So then you ought to have the courage to state the CAUSE even if it is politically incorrect.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (4) Feb 20, 2017
"When people are stressed out and worried about protecting the group, they are willing to be aggressive," he says. "Violence is about resources for the group."

-And again, the groups are called tribes. The tribal dynamic - internal amity in conjunction with external emnity - was the main determinent of human behavior. Those tribes that could maintian greater internal unity, trust, fidelity, courage, and a willingness to sacrifice themselves for their brothers, could be expected to prevail on the battlefield.

This is called group selection. It is what caused our brains to grow. It is what made us human.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Feb 20, 2017
"Rude tribes and... civilized societies... have had continually to carry on an
external self-defence and internal co-operation – external antagonism and
internal friendship. Hence their members have acquired two different sets of
sentiments and ideas, adjusted to these two kinds of activity... A life of constant
external enmity generates a code in which aggression, conquest and revenge, are
inculcated, while peaceful occupations are reprobated. Conversely a life of
settled internal amity generates a code inculcating the virtues conducing to a
harmonious co-operation" (Spencer, 1892, Vol. I: 322)."

"Human Evolution and the Origin of War: A Darwinian heritage"
http://www.rug.nl...7f).html
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Feb 20, 2017
The problem with acknowledging overpopulation and tribalism is, of course, that it leads to thoughts on how to restrict reproduction. And this leads to the worst culprets in that respect, ie the religions that have survived to this day by outgrowing and overwhelming their more frugal and conscientious opponents.

The west has successfully thrown off the mantle by making all religions equal and thus superfluous. 'Give no thought for the morrow' has been replaced with planning for the future and living within ones means.

But wherever these religions still reign there is still misery, strife, starvation, and war. And even though the west has been able to limit its own growth it is faced with floods of excess peoples from overcrowded lands.

See how uncomfortable this all quickly becomes?
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (3) Feb 20, 2017
I have to protest the misuse of the word/concept 'civilized'. All civilizations have been based upon human slavery. We settled that question at Gettysburg and Normandy. Our society is based on industrialized technology.

Sure there are still overlapping forms of economic domination. However, if you want to figure out if you are 'civilized' or a 'barbarian'. Just answer the question: "Do you, personally, clean your toilet or does someone else clean it for you?"
Elmo_McGillicutty
not rated yet Feb 20, 2017
I think it's the way you raise your kids.
michael_frishberg
1 / 5 (1) Feb 21, 2017
Resource scarcity? Only because there are too many of us.

We've ALREADY destroyed the biosphere's ability to support human life, we're dead species walking and aren't even aware of it.

vhemt.org no one should have children, anywhere, anymore.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Feb 21, 2017
I just watched the movie Inferno. The whole POINT of the book was that, in order to reduce growth a virus was created that reduced fertility by 1/3.

But the movie totally ignored that. Instead the virus was meant simply to kill millions.

Killing millions while leaving the birthrate intact has no extended effect on overpopulation. They totally changed the whole point of the book to obscure the problem of our tropical repro rate.

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