Skip to comments.Spears: Creators of Warfare? Spears Spawned Ancient Group Violence?
Posted on 09/06/2005 9:15:30 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
According to Raymond Kelly, who formulated the theory, there at least was a period without a lot of group violence from 1 million to 14,000 years ago, when the overall population was lower and groups were less rigidly structured... Spears empowered defenders because people who initiated violence were more likely to be killed than those they attacked. Kelly suggested it was better to be hiding in a bush or a foxhole with a spear than was to be running toward the foxhole or bush with a spear.
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Kelly ought to reread Xenophon's Persian Expedition. Lots of spears. Defenders with spears don't have much chance against Greeks with a plan.
I have a joke I play on people at times. Someone will posit a question or muse about something and I advance what I call my "plausible theory" (which is a bunch of baloney). It's pretty easy to mess with people who want to believe something in particular.
I believe this article is mostly right to the degree that in sparsely populated times, there probably wasn't much inter-tribal warfare until cultivation led to civilization and subsequent population growth. After that time the haves and have-nots had a problem.
Yeah, the scenario by this "researcher" sounds like the product of an agenda, so the "study" appears to be another where the conclusion fits the underlying assumptions.
War Before Civilization
by Lawrence H. Keeley
What if they attck us with pointed sticks?
A single spearman isn't very useful. A mutually-supporting group of spear-carrying men is far more useful in defense or attack.
Ask the deceased Mister Apricot.
You and Ray Kelly. ;')
Until that point, there were no groups to fight each other. It was strictly mano-a-mano (or, for the evolutionists here chimpo-a-chimpo).
Before the group concept took hold the size of a group that could live together was limited. A group working together can hunt/grow much more food.
I'd guess that spears were the third or fourth step in the weapons race.
The rock or stick come first, developing into the club.
Next comes the pointy stick, developing into the knife.
Then comes the LONG pointy stick, developing into the long pointy stick with a knife on it.
One of the friendly tribes encountered by Xenophon on the return trip used spears with small iron points on one end and a knob on the other end. They also had iron battleaxes hanging on their belts. Not much armor. They fought with more enthusiasm than skill, so the Greeks let them go in first to give the enemy a false sense of security.
"Organized civilization is a rather late (10,000 years ago), development that was related to cultivation and domestication." -- shuckmaster
The 14,000 year figure probably (wild guess) came from the multirow barley sample of that RC date, which was dug up in the Middle East somewhere. Multirow barley means irrigation and domestication.
My view is, cultural development isn't either linear or uniform. Some develop stuff in nice, logical, Victorian-model stages, others don't, and still others find "illogical" leaps to be better.
Considering that chimpanzee males roam around in packs, are territorial, and sometimes beat to death and tear to pieces, with fists, nails and teeth, other chimps they encounter on the way (and sometimes they don't), I'd say it's not a safe bet to try and find human agression emerging because of some technology.
I suppose that if you taught one band of chimps down there in Africa to pick up big sticks and beat their opponents when running around out there in packs, they would do so, and their young might learn from them too. This would be considerably worse than teaching kids to smoke.
Ever see how chimps will cooperate to isolate & kill a monkey? Cooperative hunting techniques pre-dated human beings (or is not exclusive to human beings depending on your stance on evolution).
BTW, I agree with all you other points.
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