Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Prehistoric man clubbed love rivals to death, new research shows
Prehistoric remains indicate men executed love rivals in order to steal women from neighbouring tribes, new research suggests.
It is thought to be the first time evidence has been found of a prehistoric dispute over mates, as opposed to resources or property.
This brutal side to early man's wooing technique emerged after a prehistoric mass grave was re-examined in Talheim, Germany.
The prehistoric remains revealed the men and children came from the same tribe, but the women came from different ones
The researchers looked at the skeletons of 34 victims who were attacked by a rival tribe in about 5000BC.
Cavemen valued women who were essential to the survival of a tribe
Most of the victims were killed by a blow, probably with a stone axe, to the left side of the head and each had been bound before being murdered. Others were killed by an arrow in the back as they apparently tried to flee.
But the latest discovery emerged after scientists studied traces of strontium carbon and oxygen isotopes in the skeletons' teeth, revealing details about their origin and diet.
The men and children came from the same local tribe but all the women were from different ones, it showed.
There has been little firm evidence of violence over women this far back, until now, said Dr Alex Bentley of Durham University, which led the research.
'Our analysis points to the local women being regarded as somehow special. They were therefore kept alive,' he said.
'It's crucial for a group which has a very small population to have access to mates. Women are needed for a group to succeed and survive.
'There is a theory that the most violent feuds in developing communities are motivated by women and pigs and this would slot into that theory.'
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