The remains of neolithic immigrants discovered in modern-day Spain reveal that they were brutally executed more than 7,000 years ago in a “xenophobic murderous frenzy.”
An international team of archaeologists have dug up a cave in the modern Spanish Pyrenees and found the mutilated remains of five adults and four children.
The children were between three and seven years old and all nine people in the cage were not only shot with arrows, but also beaten, even after they died.
Principal investigator, Kurt W Alt from the University of Basel in Switzerland, said the violence was unparalleled in Spain or the rest of Europe at that time.
He said it was probably caused by a series of escalating incidents such as the theft of cattle, land conflicts or even the theft of women where one group was part of the first wave of immigrants from what is now the Middle East.
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View of the Els Trocs cave on the southern slope of a karst hill on the high plateau of Selvaplana
The horrific discovery was found in the Els Trocs cave in the mountainous landscape of the Huesca region.
It required careful excavation to prevent damage to the fragile ancient remains in both hunting and agricultural land.
The remains are dated to around 5,300 BC, when hunter-gatherers were replaced by farmers.
The cave is located in the modern Spanish municipality of Bisaurri north of Senterada. The victims may have been migrants from the current Middle East
Kurt Alt said the adults showed consistent arrow-shot injuries to the skull but not to the skeleton, and the children and adults showed traces of bone violence against the skull and the entire skeleton.
This suggests that the bones that they discovered, which had been broken and crushed, were first shot and then blackened, sometimes after the victim’s death.
The massacre may have been caused by territorial conflicts, the theft of cattle or even the theft of women who escalated until they led to the slaughter.
Genetic data of the victims showed that they were part of the first wave of immigrants from the Middle East, who spread across Europe about 10,000 years ago.
The discovery in the cave documents an early escalation of violence between people of “conceivably different origins and worldviews,” according to the newspaper.
This may have been between natives and migrants or between economic or social rivals, fighting for dominance or resolving differences.
“The conflict gives the impression of a xenophobic action; the type of aggression suggests a clash between enemy groups. ”
Cases of fatal injury from arrow shots from the Els Trocs cave location. After the victims were shot with arrows, they were then driven into the cave
The researchers studied the genome of the victims of the attack and discovered that two of them were father and son – a man of about 30 and a boy of about six.
The other three children had different mothers and the genomes were not studied in detail.
However, it is likely that they were all part of the same cultural group, possibly agricultural immigrants entering an area dominated by hunter gatherers.
When they were in the cave, the victims were then subjected to further attacks with blunt force instruments, some continued after their death
During the time that the victims were alive, agricultural and agricultural societies began to develop and researchers think the victims were immigrants who started farming.
The researchers suggest that the attackers may have been local hunter-gatherers or another group of migrant farmers.
If they were migrants, the attack could have been fueled by a land dispute over agricultural space.
However, if they were locals, the researchers suggest that they might have seen migrants as intruders in their foraging grounds.
Location of the site and the two adjacent northeastern Spanish provinces of Huesca and Lérida (Lleida) on a topographical map of the Pyrenees (map: ArGIS 10, licensed from the University of Valladolid
The team says that the extraordinary significance of this violent conflict is early evidence of intentional violence in the neolithic period.
It dates the first events of collective violence against a group in the final phase of the first agricultural cultures in Central Europe at the end of the 5th millennium BC.
“This was a phase of turmoil and change,” the authors say.
An unusual feature of this violence is the remote geographical location of the site, away from the early Neolithic migration routes on the Iberian Peninsula, which are located on the coast or along the Ebro Valley.
Another author on the paper, Joe Ignacio Royo, a local expert, said he would not go that far to call it a ritual murder.
“It looks like they were wounded with arrows near the cave, and later included in it,” he said The Olive Press.
In the cave, the victims were subjected to “cruel assaults even after death.”
The attacks were so violent that he described them as a sort of “second execution, a murderous frenzy.”
The research is published in the journal Nature Scientific reports.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE STONE AGE?
The Stone Age is a period in human prehistory that is distinguished by the original development of stone tools that covers more than 95 percent of human technological prehistory.
It begins with the earliest known use of stone tools by hominids, ancient ancestors of humans, during the Old Stone Age – which began around 3.3 million years ago.
Between about 400,000 and 200,000 years ago, the pace of innovation in stone technology began to accelerate very slightly, a period known as the Middle Stone Age.
At the start of this time, handaxes were made with outstanding craftsmanship. This eventually made way for smaller, more diverse toolkits, with an emphasis on flake tools instead of larger core tools.
The Stone Age is a period in human prehistory that is distinguished by the original development of stone tools that covers more than 95 percent of human technological prehistory. This image shows neolithic jadeite axes from the Museum of Toulouse
These toolkits have been set up in at least 285,000 years in some parts of Africa and 250,000 to 200,000 years in Europe and parts of West Asia. These toolkits last until at least 50,000 to 28,000 years ago.
During the later stone age the pace of innovations increased and the craftsmanship increased.
Groups of Homo sapiens experimented with various raw materials, including bone, ivory and antlers, as well as stone.
The period, between 50,000 and 39,000 years ago, is also associated with the advent of modern human behavior in Africa.
Different groups sought their own distinctive cultural identity and adopted their own way of making things.
Later peoples from the Stone Age and their technologies spread from Africa over the next thousand years.