(ORDO NEWS) — Over the years, archaeologists have often found sites of massacres and burials. Often these were mass graves of people who died in one battle, or entire families who were victims of execution.
However, during excavations in Croatia, scientists discovered the oldest site of indiscriminate mass murder that took place 6,200 years ago.
“DNA analysis and examination of skeletal mutilations demonstrate that the indiscriminate massacre and burial of 41 people from a pastoralist community took place at this site,” says James Ahern, co-author of the study.
However, it took scientists years of work to come to the conclusion that this mass grave is the oldest site of the massacre.
The burial was discovered back in 2007 at the site where excavations were carried out before the construction of a private property.
A detailed study of the remains began only in 2012, when the skeletons were cleaned and inventoried, scientists also conducted an initial assessment of their age and gender, and documented all pathologies and injuries.
A more detailed analysis showed that there are almost no relatives among people (70% did not have such connections), half of the dead were men, and the other half were women.
“This is the oldest known case of indiscriminate mass murder that we know of,” says Ahern. “It contradicts the conventional wisdom that Neolithic farmers lived in small villages.
The DNA data points to only a few close relatives in such a large sample, which means that the violence was not only indiscriminate, but also that it occurred within a fairly large population.”
Now scientists are trying to understand what caused the murder. Considering the fact that there were many women among the dead, the massacre could not be connected with the “male showdowns” that often happened before. Nor was it the result of repression directed against persons of a certain sex.
The study also looked at the potential role of climate change. When the weather changes, resources such as water and vegetation can dwindle, which means that a growing population in one place could cause famine within villages. This could cause conflicts among the locals.
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