Were Neolithic and Late Prehistoric Fortifications a Deterrent to Escalating Conflicts in Early Agricultural Societies in Temperate Europe and Eastern North America?
Author(s): Richard Yerkes
This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
In Central and SE Europe from 5500-4000 cal. B.C.E., during the Neolithic (N) and Early Copper Age (ECA), and in Eastern North America during the Late Prehistoric (LP) period (900-1650 A.C.E.), there were similar socioeconomic changes in agricultural societies. Larger settlements with food storage were established, but interaction and exchange between groups was not always peaceful. "Trading and raiding" was marked by new production and distribution patterns, but also by increasing evidence for conflict and interpersonal violence. A common response to escalating violence in both areas was the construction of fortifications around settlements. Cross-cultural studies have shown that defensive fortifications have distinctive archaeological attributes not found in other enclosures. There is indisputable evidence for traumatic injuries and violent deaths in agricultural groups who fortified their settlements. However, is there any evidence that these fortifications were a deterrent to further conflict and violence? Evidence from agricultural tribes living in Neolithic villages in Belgium, from MLN and ECA settlements in Hungary, and LP villages in the Ohio Valley is compared to learn if this was the case. The labor and time needed to construct defensive ditches and palisades was substantial, but the benefits may have been psychological rather than strategic.
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Were Neolithic and Late Prehistoric Fortifications a Deterrent to Escalating Conflicts in Early Agricultural Societies in Temperate Europe and Eastern North America?. Richard Yerkes. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449657)
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Abstract Id(s): 22908