I haven’t read Sex at Dawn — yet. It’s on my list, but there is plenty of other info from a variety of other places to support those same conclusions.
I’ve not seen anything that demonstrates widespread violence before about 12K years ago. That’s still a drop in the bucket of human history. On the other hand, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of anthropologists and archeologists who have data that support largely peaceful and egalitarian societies prior to that time. It seems to me that some men are just really attached to the idea of violence as being natural for humans, but that’s an outcropping of patriarchal values — a dominance-based hierarchy built on coercion, fear, and threat of pain. It’s hard for some people to imagine that anything else ever existed, but there’s overwhelming evidence that it did.
When the population is relatively small and there is plenty of land, plenty of food, no material goods, and social cooperation, including trading people between tribes to prevent inbreeding and that is the survival strategy, there is no reason to war. When the supreme deity gives life, and women hold high status, as was the case until the onset of patriarchy about 10K years ago, there is no glorification of death and destruction, no stealing of women. It takes centralized power and authority to wage war. Early societies intentionally did not have that. It’s not that they were noble savages. It’s that they actively created a system that keeps people who try to get too much power in check. This kind of reverse-hierarchy still takes place in many current hunter-gatherer societies.
One highly unusual expression of this flexibility occurs in egalitarian societies (Boehm 1993). There individuals who otherwise would be subordinated are clever enough to form a large and united political coalition, and they do so for the express purpose of keeping the strong from dominating the weak. Because the united subordinates are constantly putting down the more assertive alpha types in their midst, egalitarianism is in effect a bizarre type of political hierarchy: the weak combine forces to actively dominate the strong. My thesis is that they must continue such domination if they are to remain autonomous and equal, and prehistorically we shall see that they appear to have done so very predictably as long as hunting bands remained mobile.
Boehm, Christopher (1999–11–30T22:58:59). Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior . Harvard University Press. Kindle Edition.