PLAY the CULTURE-OF-PEACE-GAME!: Home Page :: Definitions Game :: Routes Game

the prehistory of the culture of war

The prehistory of the culture of war
(Coordinator Comment)

Warfare was widespread in prehistory by the time of the Neolithic period, judging from archeological data on the extensive fortification of early settlements and the widespread existence of weaponry.

Although war and the culture of war were developed early in prehistory, they did not involve slavery or the state, and there was no economy based on exploitation, serfs, etc.) or the development of internal repression (the internal culture of war) to maintain the power of a ruling class. And hence the usefulness of war during prehistory was quite different from its usefulness later on after the development of the state.

The most convincing argument, in my opinion, is that prehistoric peoples prepared for warfare so that if they ran out of food, due to natural disaster, they could then raid the supplies of neighboring groups and hence avoid starvation. This hypothesis is supported by data from cross-cultural anthropology (See The History of the Culture of War.

The culture of war during prehistory consisted of at least 6 aspects:

1. warriors and weapons
2. authoritarian rule associated with military leadership
3. control of information through secrecy
4. identification of an "enemy"
5. education of young men to be warriors
6. male domination

Weapons and defensive walls are known through archaeological data. However, the other aspects of the culture of war leave no traces for the archaeologist. Instead, the culture of war has been investigated through cross-cultural analysis of non-state societies by anthropologists such as Carol and Melvin Ember. It is a reasonable assumption that the correlations that they find in the ethnological data of the past few centuries are similar to those that would have existed in prehistoric times.

Visitor Comments

To add your own comments in this box, click on the "Add Reply" button at the bottom of the page. For this you must be registered and logged in.

game administrator Mar. 30 2009,06:43
Readers' comments are invited on this topic.
cranberries Oct. 22 2017,18:40
There are some who claim that there was no war prior to establishment of states and empires, but their claims are based on a definition of war that is restricted to warfare involving large organized armies.  This is inappropriate, since such a definition ignores the many descriptions of warfare by 19th and 20th century ethnographers who investigated non-literate societies.  Clearly these societies had warfare even though they did not have large organized armies.
1 replies since Mar. 30 2009,06:43 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]

reply to topic

PLAY the CULTURE-OF-PEACE-GAME!: Home Page :: Definitions Game :: Routes Game