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. AchyuthanA. Wilshaw, R. A. Foley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 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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