If human burials were our only window onto the past, what story would they tell? Skeletal injuries constitute the most direct and unambiguous evidence for violence in the past. Whereas weapons or defenses may simply be statements of prestige or status and written sources are characteristically biased and incomplete, human remains offer clear and unequivocal evidence of physical aggression reaching as far back as we have burials to examine.
Warfare is often described as ‘senseless’ and as having no place in society. Consequently, its place in social relations and societal change remains obscure. The studies in The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Human Conflict present an overview of the nature and development of human conflict from prehistory to recent times as evidenced by the remains of past people themselves in order to explore the social contexts in which such injuries were inflicted. A broadly chronological approach is taken from prehistory through to recent conflicts, however this book is not simply a catalogue of injuries illustrating weapon development or a narrative detailing ‘progress’ in warfare but rather provides a framework in which to explore both continuity and change based on a range of important themes which hold continuing relevance throughout human development.
"This timely book presents detailed studies of human conflict from all round the world in many different periods from prehistory to the modern era. It is a showcase for the value of scientific analysis of human remains in revealing human brutality across time and culture. It will be required reading for archaeologists, historians, biological anthropologists and others interested in the study of violence in the past. A delightfully grisly read!" – Mike Parker Pearson, University College London, UK.
"…notable contributors move beyond description and draw insightful inferences about violence and its links to gender, social status, and citizenship. Summing Up: Recommended." -P. L. Geller, University of Miami, USA, in CHOICE
Part One: Context is Everything Part Two: Since Time Immemorial? Conflict in Prehistory Part Three: Hierarchies and Violence Part Four: New World Orders: Conflict in the Americas Part Five: Plus ça Change? Modern World Emergence