The Impact of War Clubs: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Conflict

Author(s): Joseph Curran; David Raymond; Timothy Curran

Year: 2017


This research focuses on the transformation of conflict from its earliest modes to more intensified forms seen in complex societies. Specifically, the focus is on the transition of combat in band level societies to its institutionalization in tribal social structures. One of the challenges in archaeology is in recognizing steps in the evolution of violence in formative and less stratified societies. To achieve this end, the transition of conflict needs to be operationalized. This investigation analyzes the impact of specialized weaponry (i.e. clubs) indicative of the earliest signs of escalating warfare in California. Working with forensic scientists and biomechanical engineers, experiments with traditional war clubs from a number of tribal societies are conducted to derive quantifiable data on lethality. The analysis focuses on the reconstruction of weapons from historic accounts and museum specimens, tested using biomechanical engineering methods. The results of the test are related to the bioarchaeological record and specific case studies for blunt force trauma in California to connect the data to observations in the prehistoric past. This relation allows for the charting for the early development of conflict centered, social organizations.

Cite this Record

The Impact of War Clubs: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Conflict. Joseph Curran, David Raymond, Timothy Curran. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429048)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15006