Traditionally, historians distinguish between violence perpetrated by individuals against other individuals and group violence perpetrated against other individuals or groups.
Traditionally, historians distinguish between violence perpetrated by individuals against other individuals and group violence perpetrated against other individuals or groups. Organized, lethal group violence among social groups is “warfare,” as in the modern “gang wars” concept. In historic times group violence became associated with the progression toward organized state warfare from more individualistic forms of violence in the precivilized world. In the twenty-first century, archaeological researchers have challenged the traditional border between precivilized group violence and civilized warfare. Evidence from the Stone Age, before 4000
The lack of technological advancement in the precivilized world led to the view that warfare of the time was also relatively “undeveloped.” In 1949,
Cultures such as the
Evidence of the ancient presence of violence and war in human life comes primarily from skeletal remains and human-made artifacts, geographical features, architecture, and iconography created before 4000
The various kinds of evidence tend to be found in differing combinations. Evidence exists of mass death by violence in
The existing evidence concerning human violence has spawned debate among researchers such as Lawrence H. Keeley, R. Brian Ferguson, and Steven A. LeBlanc concerning the best ways in which to define, identify, and interpret the relationship between group violence and war. When is group violence a battle? Does the definition of warfare need to include the existence of battles? Is evidence of the threat of “coercive force” expressed in architecture, weaponry, and the like enough to indicate the presence of war? What if the evidence is limited to a few times and places? Researchers point to the lack of skeletal marks left on many remains in modern warfare when individuals perish from soft-tissue trauma. They note also that modern military systems have armies, soldiers, and fortifications that will never be involved in any battle deaths, yet no one doubts these are associated with war. Is specialization by the individual, the weapon, and the architecture the key? This is a debate that will not die down anytime soon.
The growing body of archaeological evidence has led to renewed interest in the relationship between ancient violence and warfare, and in the question of the nature of warfare in the precivilized world. It has been suggested that several “origins” for war are associated with specialization in violence, one taking the form of sporadic outbreaks of war among specialized
Carman, John, and Anthony Harding. Ancient Warfare: Archaeological Perspectives. Stroud, Gloucestershire, England: Sutton, 1999. Ehrenreich, Barbara. Origins and History of the Passions of War. New York: Holt Metropolitan Books, 1997. Ferguson, R. Brian. “Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, and the Origins and Intensifications of War.” In The Archaeology of Warfare: Prehistories of Raiding and Conquest, edited by Elizabeth N. Arkush and Mark W. Allen. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006. Gat, Azar. War in Human Civilization. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Guilain, Jean. The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2005. Keeley, Lawrence H. War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Kelly, Raymond. Warless Societies and the Origins of War. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000. LeBlanc, Steven A., with Katherine E. Register. Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003. O’Connell, Robert. Ride of the Second Horseman: The Birth and Death of War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Otterbein, Keith. How War Began. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004. Peterson, Dale, and Richard Wrangham. Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence. Boston: Mariner Books, 1997. Turney-High, Harry Holbert. Primitive War: Its Practices and Concepts. 2d ed. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1971.
Armies and Infantry: Ancient and Medieval
Cavalry: Ancient and Medieval
Warships and Naval Warfare