Warfare, Violence and Slavery in Prehistory edited by: Mike Parker Pearson and I.J.N. Thorpe
Extract from review in Prehistoric Society - Past No. 37.
Prehistoric warfare has become a hot topic in recent years. In the early days of archaeology the prehistoric past was perceived as an appallingly dangerous place, full of violence and savagery of all kinds. Over time, concepts of prehistoric warfare formalised into models of culture change based on invasion, displacement and colonisation. Since the demise of invasionist explanations, however, warfare has faded dramatically from archaeological accounts of the past, creating what Keeley (1996) has dubbed a 'pacified past', where violence and aggression were eerily, and rather unconvincingly, absent.
Several of the papers here, and much of the recent literature on the subject, have been concerned with establishing the extent of warfare and slavery at various times and places in pre- and protohistory. A very clear case has now been made that these aspects of the human past have been drastically underplayed by the last couple of generations of archaeologists. Perhaps the next step will be to assess the ways in which the reality or threat of physical violence impinged on wider processes of social change, and on the lives of individuals within past societies.
Overall, this was an extremely well-organised conference with a balanced and engaging programme. The published proceedings should be well worth the attention of anyone with an interest in prehistoric warfare and associated themes.
Paperback 233 pages (2005) Publisher: Archaeopress ISBN: 1841718165