Dave Murray, I believe you’ve seen this before, but this is the kind of logical synthesis that I’m talking about:
Let’s look at what we do actually know about the Paleolithic era:
- Paleolithic peoples lived in small family bands of 20–50 who worked together cooperatively as a survival strategy.
- There was a very low population density and ample natural resources.
- These bands had reciprocal relationships with neighboring ones, including trading members in order to prevent inbreeding. Science Daily
- Warring would have taken a detrimental toll on both groups engaged in any armed conflict and impaired their ability to survive by reducing already low numbers.
“According to cultural anthropologist and ethnographer Raymond C. Kelly, the earliest hunter-gatherer societies of Homo erectus population density was probably low enough to avoid armed conflict. The development of the throwing-spear, together with ambush hunting techniques, made potential violence between hunting parties very costly, dictating cooperation and maintenance of low population densities to prevent competition for resources. This behavior may have accelerated the migration out of Africa of H. erectus some 1.8 million years ago as a natural consequence of conflict avoidance.”
- Paleolithic peoples had little or no reasons to make war and every reason to maintain peace, including a social structure that was based in maintaining order and cohesion rather than being based in conflict. We do not see the arrival of dominance hierarchies until about 6 K years ago.
“And as a large body of anthropological research shows, long before we organized ourselves into hierarchies of wealth, social status and power, these groups rigorously enforced norms that prevented any individual or group from acquiring more status, authority or resources than others.” New Scientist
- The earliest anthropological evidence of any kind of mass violence comes from 13,000 years ago, and most of it comes from 8,000 years ago and later.
- One of the most thoroughly excavated archeological sites in the world is Çatalhöyük, in what is now Turkey. It was a thriving vehemently egalitarian proto-agricultural enclave of about 10,000 people that existed from approximately 7500 BC to 5700 BC. The settlement was on an open plain near a river, with little defensive capabilities. The residents were the first to smelt ore and they made tools but few weapons. None of this is up for debate. It’s all well established.
If the world around them was filled with warfare and always had been, that wouldn’t have been the case. They could not have lived for thousands of years on an open plain with no weapons. It just doesn’t add up.
When you put together all of the factors, both archeological and anthropological, the picture that they paint is not one of ever-present violence and warfare — it’s affirmatively the exact opposite. To say in the face of that that we just don’t know for sure is a complete cop out. All evidence points in one direction, and there’s no evidence that points in the other direction, but we just don’t know…? Really??