This is the first book to explore prehistoric warfare and violence by integrating qualitative research methods with quantitative, scientific techniques of analysis such as paleopathology, morphometry, wear analysis, and experimental archaeology. It investigates early warfare and violence from the standpoint of four broad interdisciplinary themes: skeletal markers of violence and weapon training; conflict in prehistoric rock-art; the material culture of conflict; and intergroup violence in archaeological discourse. The book has a wide-ranging chronological and geographic scope, from early Neolithic to late Iron Age and from Western Europe to East Asia. It includes world-renowned sites and artefact collections such as the Tollense Valley Bronze Age battlefield (Germany), the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Tanum (Sweden), and the British Museum collection of bronze weaponry from the late Shang period (China). Original case studies are presented in each section by a diverse international authorship.The study of warfare and violence in prehistoric and pre-literate societies has been at the forefront of archaeological debate since the publication of Keeley's provocative monograph 'War Before Civilization' (Oxford 1996). The problem has been approached from a number of standpoints including anthropological and behavioural studies of interpersonal violence, osteological examinations of sharp lesions and blunt-force traumas, wear analysis of ancient weaponry, and field experiments with replica weapons and armour. This research, however, is often confined within the boundaries of the various disciplines and specialist fields. In particular, a gap can often be detected between the research approaches grounded in the humanities and social sciences and those based on the archaeological sciences. The consequence is that, to this day, the subject is dominated by a number of undemonstrated assumptions regarding the nature of warfare, combat, and violence in non-literate societies. Moreover, important methodological questions remain unanswered: can we securely distinguish between violence-related and accidental trauma on skeletal remains? To what extent can wear analysis shed light on long-forgotten fighting styles? Can we design meaningful combat tests based on historic martial arts? And can the study of rock-art unlock the social realities of prehistoric warfare? By breaking the mould of entrenched subject boundaries, this edited volume promotes interdisciplinary debate in the study of prehistoric warfare and violence by presenting a number of innovative approaches that integrate qualitative and quantitative methods of research and analysis.
Andrea Dolfini is a specialist in the later prehistory of Europe and the Mediterranean. His research interests encompass early copper and bronze technology, funerary practices, and ancient weaponry and warfare. He is particularly keen to investigate the life-histories of early metal tools and weapons by wear analysis and experimental archaeology. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Later Prehistory at Newcastle University (UK).
Rachel J. Crellin is a Lecturer in Later Prehistory at the University of Leicester (UK). Her key research interest is in the study and theorisation of change. She specialises in the in the Later Neolithic and Bronze Age of Britain and Ireland and is an expert in metalwork wear-analysis.
is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and a researcher for the Swedish Rock Art Research Archive in the Torsten Söderberg Foundation project. He studied pre- and proto-history, classical archaeology, and medieval history at the Ruhr-University in Bochum. In 2011, he finished his PhD thesis on Copper and Bronze Age halberds in Europe and received his doctorate from the Free University Berlin. His current research focuses on representations of metalwork in Bronze Age petroglyphs, the transformation of rock art, and new applications of 3D modelling in rock art studies. He is also a specialist in metalwork wear analysis concentrating on the complex interplay of functional and ritual aspects of metalwork. His research interests include material culture studies, human-object relations, and warfare.
is a researcher of the European Bronze Age, specializing in weaponry, warfare and metalworking technologies. She is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Archaeology, Durham University (UK).
Introduction.- Chapter 1. Interdisciplinary approaches to prehistoric warfare and violence: Past, present, and future.- Chapter 2. Patterns of Collective Violence in the Early Neolithic of Central Europe.- Chapter 3. Perimortem lesions on human bones from the Bronze Age battlefield in the Tollense Valley: An interdisciplinary approach.- Chapter 4. Martial practices and warrior burials: Humeral asymmetry and grave goods in Iron Age male inhumations from central Italy.- Chapter 5. War and peace in Iberian prehistory: the chronology and interpretation of the depictions of violence in Levantine rock art.- Chapter 6. Fast like a war canoe: Pragmamorphism in Scandinavian rock art.- Chapter 7. "In the beginning there was the spear": Digital documentation sheds new light on Early Bronze Age spear carvings from Sweden.- Chapter 8. Rock art, secret societies, long-distance exchange, and warfare in Bronze Age Scandinavia.- Chapter 9. Body armour in the European Bronze Age.- Chapter 10. Conflict at Europe's crossroads: Analysing the social life of metal weaponry in the Bronze Age Balkans.- Chapter 11. Ritual or lethal? Bronze weapons in late Shang China.- Chapter 12. Standardised manufacture of Iron Age weaponry from Southern Scandinavia: Constructing and provenancing the Havor lance.- Chapter 13. An experimental approach to prehistoric violence and warfare?- Chapter 14. Value, craftsmanship and use in Late Bronze Age cuirasses.- Chapter 15. Untangling Bronze Age warfare: The case of Argaric society.- Chapter 16.The science of conflict.