A TOMB full of intricate skeletons from 5,000 years ago has revealed a traumatic part of history.
In 1991, a total of 338 skeletons of men, women and children were discovered in a mass grave, and scientists now believe the victims may have suffered from sophisticated warfare.
The skeletons have been radiocarbon dated to 3380 to 3000 BC. Dated
They were found in the San Juan ante Portam Latinam (SJAPL) rock shelter in the town of Laguardia in northern Spain.
The bones of the ancient skeletons were found interwoven and in strange positions.
A study was published Nov. 2 in the journal Scientific Reports by Teresa Fernández-Crespo, an archaeologist at the University of Valladolid in Spain.
It explained how archaeologists “pulled apart” the tangled skeletons to learn more about what led to their deaths.
The researchers found evidence of traumatic injuries from arrows and skeletons, indicating poor health, along with high population pressure and the presence of diverse cultural groups.
They characterized these observations as signs of a “more sophisticated and formalized form of warfare than previously recognized in the Neolithic records of Europe,” they say Live Science.
They believe that complex conflicts may have arisen between a community living together and not for destructive fighting reasons.
“We believe we are seeing the result of a regional conflict between groups,” Fernández-Crespo told Live Science in an email on Thursday.
“Resource competition and social complexity may have led to tensions that potentially escalated into deadly violence,” she said.
Ryan Harrod, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Alaska Anchorage who was not involved in the study, explained why the injuries show signs that the violence was “complex” rather than “epic.”
“The fact that there were more non-fatal injuries than fatal injuries among the 338 people may be an indication that the regional clashes were not epic battles or wars,” Harrod said.