Anthropology

War uncommon in prehistoric Japan

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
532,
Pages:
150–151
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/532150e
Published online

Hunter-gatherers living in Japan thousands of years ago were not particularly violent, adding weight to a contentious idea that violence and warfare were not the norm in early history.

Hisashi Nakao at Yamaguchi University in Japan and his colleagues analysed published data on the skeletal remains of hunter-gatherers from Japan's Jomon period, between 13,000 BC and 800 BC. The team calculated the percentage of skeletons showing evidence of fatal injuries from violence, and found that mortality from violence was low, averaging 1.8% over the entire Jomon period. Violent injuries were evenly distributed across the country, and the researchers found no hotspots of violence that might indicate warfare.

The findings are inconsistent with the idea that warfare is inherent in human nature, the authors say.

Biol. Lett. 12, 20160028 (2016)

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