The earliest surviving signs of modern-day warfare and even outright mass murder have been found in Jebel Sahaba on the Egyptian-Sudanese border.
There, about 13,000 years ago, ancient people put 61 fellow tribesmen, men, women, and small children, to rest in the wilderness.
Many of them had been brutally killed. These people had been shot with bows and stabbed with spears. Some of the injuries are so deep that pieces of stone spearheads remained in the bones.
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The remnants of Jebel Sahaba date back to the end of the last ice age, millennia before the first kingdoms of Egypt.
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They have been studied since the 1960s. At the time, a project led by the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) searched for archaeological treasures that were in danger of being buried under the artificial lake of the new Aswan Dam.
Now Scientific Reports The study, published in the journal, shows that the victims come from more than one conflict and not from the remnants of a single massacre.
The ancient tribes have probably waged a prolonged war in the Jebel Sahaba region. Climate change and drought at the time may have forced people to fight each other for dwindling resources.
This would thus be the earliest known example of warfare and looting by hunter-gatherers.
French researchers re-examined the old remains that are now preserved in the British Museum in London.
They found many signs of violence in skeletons and bone fragments that were not found in previous studies.
The bones of several deceased had signs of injuries that had already healed in the past. So they had experienced violence earlier in their lives.
Scholars have debated whether the deceased in Jebel Sahaba may have been victims of the massacre or whether they died in one great battle. According to a new study, neither option seems likely.
Most of the victims of the one-off struggle would probably be men, but there are men and women alike in the grave, as well as small children. Nor do they appear to be buried at one time, but over a longer period of time.
“Unfortunately, violence seems to have been an integral part of these people’s daily lives,” says researchers
news agency To Reuters. Antoine works as a curator of bioarchaeology at the British Museum.
The community has cared about its deceased members. Many of the victims are carefully placed in the grave in a kind of fetal position, with their knees and arms bent.
“In the midst of all this hard life and tragedy, humanity is also seen,” says the archaeologist
, who himself has previously studied the remains of Jebel Sahaba.
The ancient burial sites of Jebel Sahaba are now covered in water, under Lake Nasser, which was born from the construction of a new dam in Aswan.
Source: Tiede by www.tiede.fi.
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