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Join the conversation! There are now 10 comments on this chapter's page 59. Violence and War in the State of Nature. What are your thoughts?
  1. Rex Vivat says

    That face in the last panel will follow me into my nightmares.

  2. Are there compelling theories as to why modern hunter gatherer groups might experience such disproportionate rates of violence that earlier groups did not?

  3. Gregory Thomas Bogosian says

    “Paleolithic humans were about as violent as civilized humans are becoming today.” The evidence that I know of indicates the opposite, that before agriculture, the murder rate was about 2%, same as the other primates. Then when agriculture was invented, the homicide rate shot up. Then with the rise of police forces and prisons, it declined down to below paleolithic levels.

  4. David Argall says

    Good to see you are back [tho as often as I have been checking, you could have been back for months.] but to mention a point that has been bothering me for a long time…
    The idea that our ancestors could avoid conflict by moving to empty land not far away was at most true for only a short period of time. While it took tens of thousands of years to cover the entire earth, it took less than one thousand before the majority of mankind had neighbors in all directions.
    Let us say it took a century for a village to grow big enough to want to split. Put the village on a river and a century later we have two villages, and another century, we have 4, but next century, we have a problem as the two center villages can’t expand either up or down river without bothering another village. Well, we can move inland, but this is going to be onto land we didn’t like. And another century we have the same problem again. And it is getting worse as we have neighbors in more directions. It is not long before we not only have neighbors in all directions, but so do our neighbors. For our 70,000 history there will always be someone who is not surrounded by neighbors and/or mountains, seas, etc, but very soon that was a small, and declining percentage of humanity.

    • You’re definitely thinking in the right direction! We’ll be exploring various ramifications very soon (knock on wood).

      And welcome back, it’s good to be at the old drawing board again.

  5. Actually, there’s evidence among both Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon man that far from just abandoning or killing handicapped tribe members, they loved and cared for them. The Shanidar burial is passed around a lot on Tumblr, but it warrants being mentioned. The individual in question, who was a Neanderthal, suffered from severe cranial trauma that would have likely left him profoundly disabled, along with several other injuries. Basically, he was unable to walk and the only way he could get around, would be if someone carried him.

    Yet Shanidar lived to what’s considered a ripe old age for Neanderthals meaning that his relatives spent decades carrying him around, because however primitive they may be, his kin was able to see that his life had value. In addition, the way his body was arranged and flowers laid on it, proves that Shanidar wasn’t merely tolerated by his kinsmen; he was loved. People mourned for this guy which you don’t do for someone you regard as a burden.

    • Yes, I was gonna say! I’d heard that this idea of “leave the weak behind for the good of the group” was deeply ahistorical.

      • Wherever did you heard that?
        A key word, however, is “sometimes.” Obviously it’s not something that would happen every day. The aged and infirm aren’t always—or even often—a survival threat. People will tend to their loved ones as long as they can. But there is evidence that there were some times when they couldn’t, and they had to make that difficult choice. We know from the archaeological record that it happened, and we can reasonably infer that they felt they were doing the right thing.

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