Violence in the prehistoric period of Japan: the spatio-temporal pattern of skeletal evidence for violence in the Jomon period

Biology Letters 1 (12):20160028 (2016)
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Whether man is predisposed to lethal violence, ranging from homicide to warfare, and how that may have impacted human evolution, are among the most controversial topics of debate on human evolution. Although recent studies on the evolution of warfare have been based on various archaeological and ethnographic data, they have reported mixed results: it is unclear whether or not warfare among prehistoric hunter – gatherers was common enough to be a component of human nature and a selective pressure for the evolution of human behaviour. This paper reports the mortality attributable to violence, and the spatio-temporal pattern of violence thus shown among ancient hunter–gatherers using skeletal evidence in prehistoric Japan (the Jomon period: 13000 cal BC–800 cal BC). Our results suggest that the mortality due to violence was low and spatio-temporally highly restricted in the Jomon period, which implies that violence including warfare in prehistoric Japan was not common.



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Hisashi Nakao
Nanzan University

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