Is warfare as old as humanity? Are we an inherently violent species? How would we know? Signs of warfare appear as soon as we began crafting our earliest written records several thousand years ago. But what can we see beyond that literary horizon? This lecture highlights anthropological research to contemplate warfare’s antiquity and origins, providing a glimpse into past contexts of organized violence in the deeper recesses of humanity’s past. We will take a tour around the world, considering select cases across space and time, from the Ice Ages to the present day. The lecture explores the evidence for varied manifestations of war and what those data can reveal about our shared past, our evolution as a species, and our prospects for peace.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):
2021. The Origins of Warfare. Documentary film produced by History Hit (https://access.historyhit.com/what-s-new/videos/the-origins-of-warfare)
2021. The Origins of Warfare. Interview with Tristan Hughes, part of History Hit TV’s podcast series The Ancients (https://podfollow.com/the-ancients/episode/61cce335d5d17d07adb09b7782ff6f510fbab7ff/view)
Kim, Nam and Marc Kissel. 2018. Emergent Warfare in Our Evolutionary Past. Routledge, New York.
Kissel, Marc and Nam Kim. 2017. How Culture Allows for War and Peace. Sapiens, November 16. (https://www.sapiens.org/debate/archaeology-war/)