CHENNAI:Rewriting the history of human warfare, an international research team, which included a professor from Anna University, Chennai, has discovered brutal mass killing that happened 10,000 years ago in Nataruk, Kenya. Hema Achyuthan from the Department of Geology helped the Cambridge University-led team to understand the geomorphology of the gravel bars along Lake Turkana where the burials were found.
Till now archeologists believed that the oldest known warfare happened 6,000 years ago in Sudan, but the recent project has proved it wrong. Researchers found remains of skulls smashed by blunt force and bones of hapless victims, including a pregnant woman, chopped before receiving the death blow, at the site. In all, there were 27 bodies at the site. For archeologists, it was crucial.
“These evidences suggested that human conflict or inter-tribal rivalry existed way before sedentary (or non-migratory) societies,” said Achyuthan. She added, “This is the first time we have recorded evidence of intentional killing of a small band of foragers or hunter-gatherers in prehistory.” The research was also funded by Kenya’s Turkana Basin Institute and Jomo Kenyatta House. The research paper was published in Nature.
The exact reason for the massacre is yet to be ascertained, but the researchers found evidences of pottery indicating the practice of food storage, thus giving rise to the belief that rival tribal groups could have raided the area for resources–territory, women, children and food.
What was found there?
Remains of 27 individuals partly or completely exposed
21 were adults (8 males, 8 females and 5 unknown)
Remains of a 6 to 9-month-old foetus within an adult female’s abdominal cavity
Partial remains of six children in close proximity to the remains of four adult women and none were near men
What were their features?
10 out of 12 skeletons had major traumatic lesions believed to be lethal in the immediate to short time
Six cases were of sharp-force trauma to the head and neck, probably associated with arrow wounds
Five cases of blunt-force trauma to the head. Others were of bilateral fractured knees and ribs
Position of hands in two cases suggested they were bound at the time of death
What does it signify?
Radiocarbon dating process estimates age of the remains between 9,500 and 10,500 years old, i.e., just after the end of last Ice Age
Presence of projectile points depicted inter-group conflict. Fractures from blunt and sharp force to head, neck, ribs indicates deliberate violent trauma
Rewriting history from kenya
The international research team found the evidence of brutal mass killing, an important discovery that rewrites the history of warfare, at a site in Nataruk, located near Lake Turkana in Kenya
What else was found?
Three artefacts were found embedded in two of the bodies
The first of these was a bladelet, found embedded in one of the male crania
The others were two microliths found inside the pelvic and thoracic cavities of a male skeleton