This article examines evidence for violence as reflected in skull injuries in 378 individuals from Neolithic Denmark and Sweden (3,900-1,700 BC). It is the first large-scale crossregional study of skull trauma in southern Scandinavia, documenting skeletal evidence of violence at a population level. We also investigate the widely assumed hypothesis that Neolithic violence is male-dominated and results in primarily male injuries and fatalities. Considering crude prevalence and prevalence for individual bones of the skull allows for a more comprehensive understanding of interpersonal violence in the region, which is characterized by endemic levels of mostly nonlethal violence that affected both men and women. Crude prevalence for skull trauma reaches 9.4% in the Swedish and 16.9% in the Danish sample, whereas element-based prevalence varies between 6.2% for the right frontal and 0.6% for the left maxilla, with higher figures in the Danish sample. Significantly more males are affected by healed injuries but perimortem injuries affect males and females equally. These results suggest habitual male involvement in nonfatal violence but similar risks for both sexes for sustaining fatal injuries. In the Danish sample, a bias toward front and left-side injuries and right-side injuries in females support this scenario of differential involvement in habitual interpersonal violence, suggesting gendered differences in active engagement in conflict. It highlights the importance of large-scale studies for investigating the scale and context of violence in early agricultural societies, and the existence of varied regional patterns for overall injury prevalence as well as gendered differences in violence-related injuries.
Community differentiation is a fundamental topic of the social sciences, and its prehistoric origins in Europe are typically assumed to lie among the complex, densely populated societies that developed millennia after their Neolithic predecessors. Here we present the earliest, statistically significant evidence for such differentiation among the first farmers of Neolithic Europe. By using strontium isotopic data from more than 300 early Neolithic human skeletons, we find significantly less variance in geographic signatures among males than we find among females, and less variance among burials with ground stone adzes than burials without such adzes. From this, in context with other available evidence, we infer differential land use in early Neolithic central Europe within a patrilocal kinship system.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.