Inter-group violence among early Holocene hunter-gatherers of West Turkana, Kenya

M. Mirazón Lahr*, F. Rivera, R. K. Power, A. Mounier, B. Copsey, F. Crivellaro, J. E. Edung, J. M Maillo Fernandez, C. Kiarie, J. Lawrence, A. Leakey, E. Mbua, H. Miller, A. Muigai, D. M. Mukhongo, A. Van Baelen, R. Wood, J. L. Schwenninger, R. Grün, H. Achyuthan & 2 others A. Wilshaw, R. A. Foley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

86 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The nature of inter-group relations among prehistoric hunter-gatherers remains disputed, with arguments in favour and against the existence of warfare before the development of sedentary societies. Here we report on a case of inter-group violence towards a group of hunter-gatherers from Nataruk, west of Lake Turkana, which during the late Pleistocene/early Holocene period extended about 30 km beyond its present-day shore. Ten of the twelve articulated skeletons found at Nataruk show evidence of having died violently at the edge of a lagoon, into which some of the bodies fell. The remains from Nataruk are unique, preserved by the particular conditions of the lagoon with no evidence of deliberate burial. They offer a rare glimpse into the life and death of past foraging people, and evidence that warfare was part of the repertoire of inter-group relations among prehistoric hunter-gatherers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-398
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume529
Issue number7586
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

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