Invention of War (Part 2)
Scott Holmes (sholmes@NETCOM.COM)
Sat, 25 Jun 1994 17:46:39 -0700
manner of expression appears to be culturally determined. At what point
in human cultural development does violence become socially ratified?
My first posting on this topic was prompted by certain observations
of European and Chinese archaeology. The posting illicited few responses
and none publicly. The responses I did receive have caused me to look
for clarification on several points.
I assumed that the appearance of defensive architecture is a valid
method for dating the arrival of "warfare". I indicated that this
occurred after 5000 BC in both Inner Mongolia and in Europe; and in
both cases defenses were built in an attempt to keep out peoples from the
steppes. I have been advised that defensive architecture appeared much
earlier in the middle east. "...massive fortification walls" surrounded
Jericho "during a very early phase called Pre-Pottery Neolithic A" dated
at about 8500 BC.
I'm not familiar with the culture at Jericho c 8500 BC, however, the
people being raided in both Inner Mongolia and Europe were "matristic"
agriculturalists and had developed metallurgical skills. There is no
indication that either of these people engaged in raiding of their
neighbors. They did, however, engage in trade so they were not insular.
The people of the steppes were pastoral and highly mobile (they had
horses). Linguistic evidence indicates the Indo-European language
originated in an area between areas occupied by the Finno-Ugric, Semitic,
and Caucasian linguistic families. Gimbutas states: "We can begin to
speak of `Kurgan people' when they conquered the steppe region north of
of the Black Sea around 4500 BC." They were armed with "thrusting and
cutting weapons: long dagger-knives, spears, halberds, and bows and arrows".
I think it could be argued that such implements could have been developed
to deal with open plains hunting.
I can find no reference as to who the aggressors were in Inner Mongolia.
It is known that there were a large number of "tribes" on the steppes and I
have found no reference to any research on the association between those
tribes vis "Mongols" and "Aryans". It is know that from the 3rd millenium
BC to as late as the Shang dynasty there was a flourishing agricultural
civilization in southeastern Inner Mongolia. And, that their cities were
built with walls and moats along an east/west line parallel to what would
later become the Great Wall of China, built in that area.
These events take us past the point I am most interested in exploring
here. Prior to reading Gimbutas, I had assumed that agriculture
developed from horticulture and that an heirarchical societal structure
was required. In effect, the mindset required for military adventure
would have already been established. Also, metallurgical skills developed
because of a need for better tools (both agricultural tools and weapons).
It now appears that both agriculture and metallurgy can and did develop
without an heirarchical social structure and without the aid of the
military. It would seem the source of societal aggression lies with
the pastoral/nomadic people.
A new question arises. Is there some factor inherent in pastoral/nomadic
life that lends itself more readily to developing military capabilities?
Gimbutas suggests that males were more effective than females at handling
horses and the requirements of herding. This would place males in a
dominant position. Is this enough to instigate the development of a
warrior class? Is this supposition even true?
Another thought comes to mind, however. Perhaps the Saharan
desertification pushed Semitic people into the territory of the steppe
nomads with a resulting reaction like that which occurred when the
"White Man" entered into "Indian Territory" with a resultant "arms race".
The walls of Jericho indicate that group level aggression occurred at a
much earlier date in the Middle East than in either Europe or China.
The reference I have is A.T. Olmstead's _History of the Persian Empire_.
He mentions Sumerians entering Babylon from central Asia, "and they arrived
with horses and chariots". Again we are past the point I wish to discover.
Was their arrival somehow connected with the "Kurgan" conquering of the Black
Olmstead's model of cultural development takes us back to the original
model. "Near the end of the paleolithic... inhabitants of the Near East
were divided, some were wandering nomads, some as settled villagers.
While the nomads remained the essentially the same, civilizations grew
in the villages. Walls were built to protect the prosperous from the
less fortunate or from the nomads, and a `king' was chosen to lead the
village levies in war."
But this begs the question on how and when did the Sumerians first develop
these skills, and Olmstead misses the entire first phase of Indo-European
expansion. The Indo-Europeans are not mentioned until near the end of the
3rd millenium (Gimbutas' second wave). He describes these people as
"Nordic" and having great skills at war. How and why did they develop
It appears that "war" existed even at the beginnings of civilization.
An indication of how ingrained aggression had become, following is an
excerpt from _The Great Hymn to Shamash_. Translated by W.G. Lambert in
his _Babylonian Wisdom Literature_. My copy is from Mircea Eliade's
_ From Primitives to Zen_.
She whose son is captive constantly and unceasingly confronts you.
He whose family is remote, whose city is distant,
The shepherd [amid] the terror of the steppe confronts you,
The herdsman in warfare, the keeper of sheep among enemies.
Shamash, there confronts you the caravan, those journeying in fear,
The travelling merchant, the agent who is carrying capital.
Shamash, there confronts you the fisherman with his net,
The hunter, the bowman who drives the game,
With his bird net the fowler confronts you.
The prowling thief, the enemy of Shamash,
The marauder along the tracks of the steppe confronts you.
The roving dead, the vagrant soul,
They confront you, Shamash, and you hear all.
----------- There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, ----------------
Scott Holmes <email@example.com> Informix 4GL Applications
---------------- Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ------------------------