The cemetery of Jebel Sahaba, discovered in the Nile River Valley and dating from 13,400 – 18,600 years ago, it is considered one of the oldest known examples of what was a war. A new analysis has now revealed how they were produced really these violent clashes.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, maintains that the people buried in this cemetery, located in northern Sudan, were probably subjected to a series of violent attacks instead of a single armed conflict.
For this, the researchers they re-examined the bones of 61 people of this place and have found more than one hundred new signs of injury, many of which were not fatal. In addition, a quarter of the skeletons had healed and unhealed wounds, leading them to believe that this group of people experienced more than one episode of violence In their lifes.
“We reject the hypothesis that Jebel Sahaba reflects a single war event, with the new data supporting sporadic and recurring episodes of interpersonal violence, probably caused by major climatic and environmental changes“, write the researchers in the article published in Scientific Reports.
The research, carried out by a team of anthropologists, prehistorians and geochemists from the French National Center for Scientific Research and the University of Toulouse, has also revealed that most of the injuries were caused by projectile weapons, like arrows or spears, so the attacks probably came from outside the group and not from within.
The timing of these episodes coincides with the end of the last Ice Age. This climate change turned the Nile Valley area into “an area of refuge for human populations subject to these climatic fluctuations”, the researchers indicate.
Hence the succession of ambushes between different hunter-fisherman-gatherer villages to take over the place. “Competition for resources is therefore probably one of the causes of the conflicts witnessed in the Jebel Sahaba cemetery,” they conclude.