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Conflict and War, Archaeology of

much conflict overwhelms mechanisms for coping Shantz C U, Hartup W W 1992 Conflict in Child and Adolescent
with it. Deelopment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK
Sherif M, Harvey O J, White F J, Hood W R, Sherif C W 1961
Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation: the Robbers’ Cae
Experiment. University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
3.1 Future Directions B. Laursen
Most research on the significance of interpersonal
conflict has focused on its potential for adverse
consequences. Few studies have addressed the possi-
bility that conflict promotes socioemotional devel-
opment. Strong evidence supports the assertion that
children who experience high rates of angry conflict Conflict and War, Archaeology of
suffer from low self-esteem, poor social skills, inter-
personal rejection, and adjustment problems. Yet the Archaeology is the study of patterns of effects;
nature of this research is such that it is impossible to repetitions of human behavior that leave an enduring
determine whether maladaptation is the cause or the mark on the physical world. War, the armed conflict
consequence of interpersonal conflict. Neither can it between social units, is such a pattern and leaves very
be determined whether there are sensitive periods enduring effects. Such effects include the remains of
during which conflict exerts a particularly strong victims of homicide and warfare, fortifications,
influence on development, although a few studies specialized weapons, destroyed settlements, and de-
suggest that conflict mediates difficult transitions pictions of combat. Ancient violent conflicts also
through precocious puberty, marital reconfiguration, had important consequences, correlates, and causes
and school entry. Of particular importance to this field involving human ecology, the distribution of settle-
of inquiry is research that makes a full and nuanced ments, production and exchange, social organization,
account of the dynamic interplay between conflict and ideology, and symbolism.
developmental outcomes. Studies of change over time The definitions of ‘war’ used by social scientists and
are needed to specify the paradoxical influence of historians can be grouped into two extreme categories:
conflict on concurrent individual adjustment and on broad and narrow. Broad definitions, like that used in
long-term developmental trajectories. the introductory paragraph, classify violent and lethal
conflicts between all social or political units as war.
See also: Adulthood: Emotional Development; Con- Broad definitions allow the survey and analysis of the
flict\Consensus; Infancy and Childhood: Emotional widest range of deadly conflicts between human
Development; Social Learning, Cognition, and groups. They permit anthropologists studying pre-
Personality Development historic and recent small-scale societies to contribute
to scholarly and popular debates about warfare.
Narrow definitions restrict the term ‘war’ just to
societies organized as states. States being political
Bibliography organizations that are hierarchically organized,
centrally directed, class-stratified with a high degree of
Deutsch M 1973 The Resolution of Conflict: Constructie and occupational specialization (especially, full-time mili-
Destructie Processes. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT
tary specialists) and which maintain a monopoly of
Festinger L 1957 A Theory of Cognitie Dissonance. Stanford
University Press, Stanford, CA
deadly force. Narrow definitions restrict analysis of
Freud S 1965 The Problem of Anxiety. Norton, New York warfare only to societies roughly similar in scale and
(Original work published 1936) complexity to modern nations. They excuse ignorance
Gottman J M 1994 What Predicts Diorce? The Relationship about violent conflicts between nonstate societies.
Between Marital Processes and Marital Outcomes. Erlbaum, Broad definitions imply that warfare is a human
Hillsdale, NJ universal while narrow definitions claim that collective
Hinde R A 1997 Relationships: a Dialectical Perspectie. Psycho- violence is a scourge peculiar to states.
logy Press, Hove, UK Until the development of scientific dating methods
Laursen B, Collins W A 1994 Interpersonal conflict during around 1950, the primary concern of archaeologists
adolescence. Psychological Bulletin 115: 197–209 was establishing sequences of cultural changes for
Patterson G R 1982 Coercie Family Process. Castalia, Eugene,
their respective regions. Their interpretations of social
Piaget J 1985 The Equilibration of Cognitie Structures. Uni-
phenomenon, such as warfare, when they made any at
versity of Chicago Press, Chicago (Original work published all, tended to be off-hand with little basis in analysis or
1975) argument. Their attitudes toward prehistoric warfare
Selman R 1980 The Growth of Interpersonal Understanding: were also affected by the Social Darwinist attitudes
Deelopmental and Clinical Analyses. Academic Press, New that characterized the heyday of Western Imperialism.
York Many kinds of implements and constructions were

Conflict and War, Archaeology of

blithely assumed to be weapons of war or fortifi- However, the most commonly noted weapons trau-
cations. Many cultural changes were declared to be the mas, worldwide, involve projectile points of bone or
result of prehistoric conquests. The shocks of World stone embedded in the skeletons of victims. The
War II’s savagery, postwar decolonization, and the absence of any healing or inflammation around such
‘atomic fear’ of the Cold War fostered a severe traumas indicates that the victim did not long survive
aversion to war and conquest in the Western in- them. The bones of early hominids do show healed
tellectual and popular cultures. Q. Wright (A Study of and unhealed traumas (e.g., Neanderthals seemed to
War, 1942, University of Chicago Press) and H. have been particularly accident-prone). But before the
Turney-High (Primitie War, 1949, University of widespread use of stone and bone projectile tips
South Carolina Press) persuaded most postwar social (around 40 000 BP), it is impossible to determine
scientists and historians that the fighting of prestate whether these traumas were effected by human vio-
societies was ritualized, undangerous, and ineffective, lence or by other more prosaic causes. Evidence of
a game or sport rather than a serious business. Both homicide (not necessarily warfare) appears as soon as
argued that fighting only became dangerous, terrible, modern humans appear on the scene. At Grimaldi,
and effective when societies became politically Italy, (around 32 000 BP), the skeleton of a child was
centralized and socially complex, especially as civilized found with a bone projectile point embedded in its
states. ‘Ethnographic analogy’ based on these spine. In the Nile Valley, Egypt, a male skeleton
generalizations implied that prehistoric ‘combat,’ like (around 20 000 BP) had several projectile points in his
games or sports, was politically, economically, and abdomen and a partially healed one embedded in his
ecologically ineffective, unimportant, and frivolous. arm. The earliest clear evidence for warfare also comes
While archaeologists continued to record evidence of from the Nile Valley from the Late Paleolithic (around
prehistoric conflicts, analysis or discussion of these 13 000 BP) cemetery at Gebel Sahaba. Over 40 percent
traces became less and less common in the post-War of the 59 people buried there had clearly died from
era. arrow wounds, often multiple. The victims included
The development of radiometric dating after the men, women, and children and were sometimes buried
war freed archaeologists to focus upon the actual in small groups indicating that several were killed
functioning of the societies they studied as well as how simultaneously. This gruesome evidence as well as
and why they changed. For any number of reasons, many other examples from around the world (for
since around 1950, the many theoretical currents example, Kennewick Man, around 9600 BP, from
among archaeologists have eschewed war and con- Washington State and the frequent homicide victims
quests as interpretations or explanations in favor of found in Late Mesolithic cemeteries in Europe) in-
ecological, economic, and indigenous social evolution- dicate that hunter-gatherers, even early ones, were
ary processes. Increasingly, fortifications were re- anything but pacific. Homicide, then, is at least as old
interpreted as ritual enclosures, and many obvious as modern humanity (i.e., Homo sapiens sapiens) while
weapons were seen as merely symbols of wealth and warfare appears in the archaeological record as soon
status. Post-War archaeologists, through disregard or as there are sufficiently large burial populations,
reinterpretation, pacified the past. concentrated in cemeteries, which allow its detection.
However, since around 1985 archaeologists around Such weapons traumas are sometimes accompanied
the world have uncovered some obvious, even shock- by other traumas from perimortem (i.e., at the time of
ing, remains left by ancient armed conflicts (see Sect. death) mutilations and\or trophy taking. One of the
1). These have led to a revival of interest by many most common mutilations was ‘overkill’ with the
archaeologists in ancient warfare. The relatively small- victim struck several times with blows or projectiles,
scale but horrific conflicts between ethnic groups and any one of which would have been sufficient to have
small nations that have appeared in many places after caused death. Some of the men buried at Gebel Sahaba
the end of the Cold War may also have encouraged had been struck by over a dozen arrows. Decapitated
this change. Discussions of methodologies for docu- corpses and disembodied heads, the result of heads
menting prehistoric warfare as well as war’s possible being taken as war trophies, have been found in sites as
significance in prehistory have begun appearing in diverse in time and space as the late prehistoric (around
major archaeological journals and books. AD 1300) Norris Farm cemetery in Illinois and
Mesolithic (5500 BC) skull caches found in Ofnet
Cave, Germany. In North America, the practice of
scalping was evidenced by characteristic cut-marks left
on the skull by the scalping knife. Such cut-marks have
1. Human Remains been noted on many skulls of several thousand years
old. The most complete mutilations suffered by war
The most unequivocal evidence of ancient homicides victims results from cannibalism. However, the
are human remains bearing traumas caused by thoroughgoing destruction of human remains as-
weapons, for example, sword cuts, dents made by sociated with cannibalism usually removes or obscures
axes, and depressed fractures made by maces, etc. any traces of the causes of death, including violence.

Conflict and War, Archaeology of

Very often corpses bearing weapons and mutilation Like Crow Creek, Herxheim produced evidence of
traumas were interred ‘unceremoniously,’ that is, with- weapons traumas, postmortem mutilation, trophy
out grave goods or in a manner uncharacteristic of taking, and uncharacteristic or unceremonious treat-
their respective archaeological cultures. For example, ment of the dead.
the people of the Linear Pottery Culture (around 5000 Interestingly there were time periods in some regions
BC) of central and northwestern Europe usually where, despite large burial populations, we find little
buried their dead individually in a flexed position in or no evidence of weapon traumas, mutilation, or any
oval plan graves, with the adults often accompanied other evidence of warfare. For example, In the Near
by grave offerings that included pots, stone adze\axes East just as the people were becoming farmers during
and awls. At Talhiem, Germany, a large pit from this the final Epi-Paleolithic and Early Neolithic (around
period contained the sprawled skeletons of 34 men, 11 000 to 7000 BC), life seemed to have been unusually
women, and children unaccompanied by any grave nonviolent. This case and a parallel one involving the
goods. They had all been struck on the head, the men Hopewell-Adena period (around 300 BC to AD 500)
always several times (i.e., over-kill), with axes and in the eastern US directly contradict the very popular
adzes of characteristically Linear Pottery shape. From idea that the origin of warfare is tied to that of
the size and shape of the traumas, it was inferred that agriculture. The corollary that hunter-gatherers were
the wounds were inflicted by at least seven attackers. inherently peaceful is belied by the many very homi-
At Crow Creek in South Dakota the remains of over cidal, war ridden foraging societies known to ar-
500 men, women, and children dating to AD 1325 chaeology, ethnography, and history. Indeed, over the
were found heaped in the fortification ditch of a large ages, the bodies of homicide and war victims show no
village of that period. Over 90 percent of these evidence that foragers, farmers, peasants, or city
unceremoniously buried individuals bore scalping dwellers, the subjects of bands, chiefdoms or states,
marks on their skulls and many showed traumas from Europeans, Africans, Asians, Amerindians, or Ocean-
axes and ball-headed clubs. The houses (50j) and the ians were always, or even generally, more peaceful or
palisade of this village had been burned into the warlike than anyone else.
ground and the site was never reoccupied. Oc-
casionally, the remains of war victims were acci-
dentally buried by the collapse of burned housed or
fortification walls (see Sect. 2). The large number of 2. Fortifications
simultaneous deaths caused by warfare overwhelmed
their compatriots capacity to give the victims a The remains of fortifications are obvious traces of
‘proper’ burial, while enemies seldom give their dead warfare. Since they must be collectively constructed by
foes even the most cursory burial, if any at all. groups and defend a group’s persons and property,
It is not always easy from weapon traumas alone, to fortifications are a symptom of war rather than
distinguish between the victims of simple murder and murder. Such defenses often feature ditches, palisades,
the collective homicide of war. The co-occurrence of ramparts, and walls surrounding a settlement or other
weapon traumas with evidence of mutilation, trophy desirable locations. These barriers inhibit entry, shield
taking, and unceremonious burial (especially in the defenders from the weapons of the attackers, and
groups), however, distinguish war from simple mur- screen the formers’ numbers and movements from the
der. When such gruesome human remains are re- latter’s sight. Fortifications may also show projecting
covered from areas and time periods that yield other bastions at intervals which eliminate safe ‘dead zones’
indications of warfare, their interpretation as war by allowing defenders to direct flanking fire at at-
casualties is more certain. For example, the Early tackers reaching the wall. Since the gates are the most
Neolithic (around 5000 BC) village of Herxheim, vulnerable parts of fortifications, they often show
Germany, was surrounded by two concentric ditches special features that make them more dangerous to
into which had been placed the disembodied skullcaps attackers. The oldest and most common of such entry
of at least 300 individuals, some children’s. Given their defenses are ‘baffle gates.’ The simplest form involves
regular placement in the already excavated portion having the curtain wall\palisades overlap at entry
(about 30 percent) of the ditches, the excavators points in such a fashion that attackers can only enter
estimate that the complete ditches contain about 1,000 the interior by passing one-by-one down a narrow
skulls. The only one of these skullcaps completely passage. Often these baffles required attackers to
studied so far bore two traumas from blows by blunt expose their unshielded (i.e., right) side to defenders
instruments and one trauma from the blow of an axe. on the walls. Other gate defenses include towers,
Cut marks on this cranium also indicated that the deadfall pits with removable bridges, narrow chutes
scalp had been removed. One complete body had been projecting into the interior, etc. Even very ancient
simply thrown into one of the ditches and abandoned. fortifications remain visible on the landscape or can be
Inside the village seven graves of the usual kind for this detected in aerial photographs. Nevertheless, exca-
culture (Linear Pottery), some with grave offerings, vation is required to assess their date, the details of
were uncovered, as were the traces of five long-houses. their construction, and the plan of their gates.

Conflict and War, Archaeology of

However, fortifications are stationary fixtures and slipped hafts so that when the arrow or spear shaft is
only protect a very small point on the landscape. Even pulled out, the head stayed in the body whereas
a simple log palisade around a small settlement hunting points were tightly hafted. For example, one
requires a large amount of labor and time to construct. type of Late Archaic (around 3000 BC) spear point
Thus, peoples with mobile lifestyles, portable pos- from the US Southeast was found almost exclusively
sessions, or small social groupings seldom construct associated with homicide victims’ skeletons. Unlike
fortifications. Because of their high labor demands, the more common other Late Archaic point types, this
even sedentary peoples may only build them when the one had a short stem that would have easily slipped its
attacks are very frequent and\or costly. Probably for haft. Judging from their food remains, the Early
all these reasons, no examples of fortifications have Neolithic (around 5000 BC) farmers of northwest
been found dating to the Paleolithic when even the Europe almost never hunted, yet a common find on
most sedentary hunter-gatherers were mobile during their sites is a distinctive triangular arrowhead that
part of the year. Only settled farmers and, later, very would have easily slipped from its haft. A few human
sedentary hunter-gatherers have constructed fortifi- remains from this period have been recovered bearing
cations. The earliest possible fortifications (around traumas from points of this type. There is no profit in
8000 BC), consisting of a mud brick wall and tower, killing a prey animal days or weeks later by infection
were found at Jericho in the Near East. However, but, alas, the opposite is true regarding an enemy.
some archaeologists interpret the wall as for flood There is archaeological evidence that some prehistoric
control and the tower as a temple. During the Early people designed their weaponry with this point in
Neolithic period (around 5000 BC) in northwest mind.
Europe many villages of early farmers were defended Axes and adzes are common archaeological finds in
by ditches backed by palisades (which apparently were many regions and time periods over the past 10 000
wattle-and-daubed) and had complicated (often years. They are always interpreted as woodworking
‘baffled’) gates. Somewhat later (around 4000 BC) tools even though there is rarely any independent or
exactly similar features in England, UK, were in at direct evidence for this assumption except their form.
least two instances attacked by archers, stormed, and But some prehistoric axes and adzes obviously also
burned. In one instance, the body of a young man was had more violent functions. The stone axes and adzes
found sprawled in the ditch under the debris of the of the early Neolithic people of northwestern Europe
collapsed burned palisade. He had been struck in the and those of the Late Prehistoric Midwestern US were
back by an arrow and had crushed the infant under certainly used to kill people as the holes knocked into
him when he fell. Similar fortifications have been the heads of the victims at Talheim and Crow Creek
found surrounding late prehistoric settlements in the (see Sect. 1) attest. More problematic are instances,
Eastern US and were observed by the first European such as those of the Late Prehistoric (after AD 1000)
explorers and invaders (e.g. De Soto’s men in Great Plains and desert Southwest of North America,
the Southeast). During the Bronze and Iron Ages in where trees were rare and wood-working a necessarily
Asia, Europe, and Africa, walls of stone or brick, often unusual activity yet labor-costly ground-stone axes of
with very elaborate gates, defended towns and chiefly ‘expensive’ imported raw materials were nonetheless
residences. common. There are many ethnographic instances of
such axes and adzes simultaneously serving as wood-
working tools, media of exchange, items of wealth,
symbols of (adult male) status, and weapons of war.
3. Weaponry Just because an implement was used as a tool does not
preclude it being used as a weapon of war.
Weapons of war have often been indistinguishable Some ancient implements of copper, bronze, and
from those used for hunting or, in the case of axes, iron, such as swords, halberds, daggers, and broad
from more prosaic implements. Indeed, many imple- axes, had no other possible or plausible direct use
ments were used for both military and everyday except as weapons of war. Increasingly since 1950 it
functions. Weapons specialized for warfare do appear has become fashionable to interpret these artifacts as
in the archaeological record. Such implements have nothing more than symbols of wealth (i.e., primitive
features that make them less suited for nonhomicidal monies) or (adult male) socio-political status. The
activities and\or are only found in contexts that geographic rarity of metal ores and the high labor
indicate that their functions were usually, or only, costs of their reduction to implements would enhance
military. Because of their use in the most terrible and the prehistoric economic and social value of any metal
frightening of human activities, weapons of war artifacts, even prosaic tools. Metal weapons of war
usually acquire symbolic significance and roles in could only be more valuable than the latter because
ritual. Projectile points used primarily for war often war and warriors were known and valued by the
have stems and barbs that make them difficult to general populace or the ruling elites. Similarly, their
extract, or increase the likelihood that they will cause symbolic values only arise from their use or possible
an infection. For example, many war points had easily use in the most fearsome of human activities.

Conflict and War, Archaeology of

4. Representational Art close, if not causal, relationship between states and

warfare are more complex. The general idea seems to
Artistic representations of homicide and warfare have be that political organizations that can concentrate
been found on rock art, painted pottery, and carved such physical force and economic resources as states,
into stone, bone, or ivory. The scenes may represent devoted to death and taxes, should be more bellicose
dreams, myths, or hoped for events rather than real than societies in which power and resources are more
fights. The frequency of depictions of combat in the diffused. Both archaeological and ethnographic data
corpus of a culture’s artwork may bear little re- completely contradict both these claims—neither the
lationship with the contemporary frequency of con- frequency nor the viciousness of warfare can be
flict. For example, military scenes became less frequent correlated with any general type of economy or form
on Classic Greek vases as combat became more of political organization.
common during the Peloponnesian Wars. However, Another popular claim is that warfare is somehow
representations of combat do indicate that the artists part of our genetic code. This idea implies that warfare
were at least familiar with warfare. is a constant feature of all human life. Archaeology,
Human representations of any kind are extremely ethnography, and history indicate that warfare has
rare in the famous Upper Paleolithic (around 15 000 long been a variable condition. Some places and
BP) cave paintings of Western Europe. A couple of periods show little or no warfare while deadly fighting
these paintings depict a man apparently skewered by was frequent and intense in other cases among people
several spears but whether these represent victims of of the same genetic stocks. For example, in the eastern
warfare or murder is unclear. By the Neolithic (around part of the central Mississippi drainage basin, warfare
4500 BC), some cave paintings from Spain clearly was rife just before 1000 BC, almost disappeared by
show military scenes. The most celebrated is a painting 300 BC, began increasing after AD 500, and peaked
of combat between two small groups, numbering four between AD 1100 and 1400. The socio-biological
and three, respectively, fighting with bows. It also argument also implies that the bravest, most regular,
depicts ‘tactics’ by showing a simultaneous center and ruthless warriors should have enjoyed a higher
advance and flank attack by the larger group. In the status and left behind more descendents (thus, ‘war’
prehistoric (so-called ‘Bushman’) rock art of Southern genes) than less bellicose men. Also, it implies that the
Africa (date unclear) depictions of combat and cattle fiercest warriors should attract or rape more women
raiding are not uncommon. Some of these show rather than wealthier, more politically adept or hand-
smaller unshielded, bow-wielding San battling larger some but less militant men. However, worldwide,
Bantu armed with shields, spears, and throwing clubs. prehistoric societies’ most elaborately buried, higher
In Peru, decorations on Moche (around AD 500) pots status dead almost never died violently nor bore healed
show warriors armed with maces carrying trophy weapon traumas. Conversely, most skeletons with
heads. The Classic Mayan (around AD 800) wall both healed and unhealed weapons traumas have been
paintings at Bonampak, Mexico, show a battle be- those of young men. This evidence implies that, for
tween Mayan warriors in one panel, the torture and many thousands of years, war’s usual casualties were
beheading of prisoners in another, and a victory dance warriors who had had no or little chance to pass on
in a third. While rare, many different prehistoric their genes. Instead, the persons accorded the highest
peoples from many different regions of the world have status and having had the longest reproductive careers
left depictions of warfare and its aftermath. Some of usually gave little or no evidence of having been
these representations were created by hunter- warriors. Indeed, ethnography and history indicate
gatherers, some by farmers, some by tribesmen, and that the men and women who have left the most
some by subjects of chiefs and kings. Whatever their descendents were not warriors but those versed in the
social and economic circumstances, these ancient arts of peace—craftsman(woman)ship, trade, child-
artists were familiar enough with warfare that they rearing, diplomacy, oratory, generosity, and the like.
depicted it so accurately that, even today, we can see With the archaeology of warfare in the early stages
that war was hell even when fought with wooden of a revival, cases for comparative analysis remain
spears or bows. rare. Some archaeologists have observed that periods
of intense warfare were correlated with climatic and
ecological deteriorations. Such ‘hard times’ include a
5. Contexts for Warfare period of frequent droughts in the American South-
west, declining precipitation on the US Great Plains,
It has often been argued that only farmers, with their and a marine die-off along the coast of Southern
fields and sedentary villages, had territories and California. Human remains from these regions and
resources worth fighting over. However, water-holes, periods often show pathologies caused by inadequate
fishing stations, plant gathering patches, hunting nutrition. For example, the bones of victims of the
territories, and the like were equally essential to hunter- Crow Creek massacre (see Sect. 1 showed signs of
gatherers, as were pasture lands and their herds to chronic undernourishment, while in the Santa Barbara
nomadic pastoralists. The arguments propounding a region signs of anemia were common during the period

Conflict and War, Archaeology of

of frequent warfare. Moving frontiers between dif- action. The assumption of witchcraft, e.g., may gen-
ferent cultures may have been especially war torn. For erate virtual feuds.
example, most fortified Linear Pottery settlements
were concentrated on the frontiers of the colonist
farmers’ settlement zone. Other archaeologists have
noted that warfare increases during periods of political 1. Goals of an Anthropological Theory of Conflict
consolidation, for example, when tribes were coalesc- An anthropological theory of conflict can
ing or being incorporated into chiefdoms, chiefdoms (a) Contribute to the explanation of violence.
into states, or small states into empires. Conversely, Conflict is, however, not the only element which will
warfare seems to have increased during the dissolution contribute to an explanation of violence. Violence
of larger political units, especially states and empires. may, for example, be needed as a strong symbolic
Which, if any, of these interpretations apply to marker for ritual purposes. And it has to be underlined
particular prehistoric situations demands much more against a popular perception of ‘conflict’ that not
excavation and analysis. The question of why some every conflict is violent.
periods in some places were so peaceful has hardly (b) It can contribute to a theory of the attraction or
been addressed. However, with the revival of arch- displacement of emotions. The hatred against foes, for
aeological interest in warfare, the necessary work has example, is not something natural but is an outcome of
begun. specific constructions of conflict.
(c) The theory of conflict competes with culturalist
See also: Ceramics in Archaeology; Conflict: Anthro- approaches as an explanation of social cohesion.
pological Aspects; History of Technology; Military Forms of conflict regulation can reduce the relative
Geography; Military History; War: Anthropological conflict intensity between persons and, thus, create
Aspects; War: Causes and Patterns; War, Sociology their allegiance to the system or organization which
of; Warfare in History provides for this conflict regulation.
(d) It contributes essentially to a theory of social
evolution. The ways by which a society regulates
Bibliography conflict operate also as means for the selection of
alternatives for its future.
Keeley L 1996 War Before Ciilization. Oxford University Press,
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Martin D, Frayer D 1997 Troubled Times. Gordon and Breach,
Milner G et al. 1991 Warfare in late prehistoric Illinois. American
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Antiquity 56: 583–603 Conflict
Vencl S 1984 War and warfare in archaeology. Journal of
Anthropological research on conflict is a history of
Anthropological Archaeology 3: 116–32
Vencl S 1991 Interpretation des Blessures Causee par les Armes many hopes lost and few results kept. It was a classic
au Mesolithique. L’Anthropologie 95: 219–28 conviction (going back to Thomas Hobbes) that a
‘primitive’ or ‘natural’ state of society would be
L. Keeley characterized by omnipresent violence. Konrad
Lorenz (1966) proposed a biological paradigm insist-
Copyright # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. ing on a genetic programme for violence which Ashley
All rights reserved. Montagu (1968) convincingly opposed. We find a
broad variance of behavior toward potentially con-
flictuous situations in all different forms of human
Conflict: Anthropological Aspects social organization. If something is encoded, it is both
a potential for aggression on the one hand, and a
Conflict is an action based upon the perception of potential for flight and conflict avoidance on the other.
partially incompatible interests or intentions between Sahlins’ (1961) study of the Nigerian Tiv, of
two or more persons. This perception need not be ‘lineages of predatory expansion,’ suggested to some
shared by both sides. What should be considered as an that genealogical closeness generally made violent
interest or intention requires interpretation in respect conflict less probable. Barth’s (1959) study on Swat
of the context. For analytical purposes these concepts Pathans has shown, however, that this pattern cannot
often remain projections; they should, however, be be generalized, not even to lineage societies. Con-
grounded in observations of statements or of chains of frontation may follow from alliances against one’s
action which are open to operationalization and closest competitors, even if they are close relatives.
falsification. They are necessarily culture-bound and Types of violent conflict had been associated with
may even be a matter of debate within a given culture. different ‘cultural levels’ even by Malinowski (1941). It
Furthermore, the perception of conflict does not need was argued that on the first levels there would be less
real intentions or real persons in order to generate violence. Other authors (e.g., Chagnon 1968) assumed


International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences ISBN: 0-08-043076-7