No image

War and Rumors of War. The Evidential Base for the Recognition of Warfare in Prehistory

Julie Wileman


The goal of this study is to examine the potential for the understanding and recognition of the processes and occurrence of prehistoric warfare through the development of a series of correlates, resulting in testable models that can be applied to the archaeological record. Such models need to be flexible and applicable across different periods and in a variety of geographical areas. To this purpose, examples of evidence are included from a wide spectrum of sources. After offering definitions of warfare and considering the nature of its archaeological evidence, the correlates and models will, for comparative purposes, be applied to a number of case studies which are located in later prehistoric societies. This study, therefore, provides models (from the UK, France and the US), for investigation, suggests some areas for research and data-gathering, and highlight potentials and problems for the interpretation of evidence, providing some frameworks for future appreciations of the concept of prehistoric war. If evidence can be sought and recognised for warfare on more extended scales, it may be possible to approach the questions of the prevalence, scale and influence of conflict on the development of societies with a little more certainty. The aim is to encourage further debate on the range of potential evidence and its value in this sphere of archaeological research.