Invention of War (Part 3)

Scott Holmes (sholmes@NETCOM.COM)
Mon, 4 Jul 1994 16:27:39 -0700

existed as long as there have been societal groups. I have received
information on paleolithic cave art depicting violence perpetrated on
human beings. Regardless of whether or not such events actually took
place the paintings indicate that at least such things had been
conceptualized. I would appreciate hearing, from anyone who knows,
how Marija Gimbutas resolved the existence of this cave art with her
statement that there exists no paleolithic art depicting violence by
humans against humans or of depiction of "arms". Surely she must have
been aware of it as publication on this topic precedes publication of
her last book. It does seem that the "Old Europeans" must have
forgotten how to fight. It must have been a nice place to live at that

Responses to this thread have also indicated that "group violence" is
a function of stress. That this stress can originate from a real or
perceived lack of necessary resources. Thinking about this, I went back
to a couple of books I have here at home (_Quaternary Extinctions, A
Prehistoric Revolution_, Martin & Klein eds, 1984 and _Man's Role in
Changing the Face of the Earth_, Thomas (ed), 1956). In rereading (after
many years) Carl Sauer's "The Agency of Man on the Earth" (I did say
my academic training was as a geographer) I was struck by his description
of the beginning of agriculture and how it may have related to the
Saharan Desertification. It would seem that in order for agriculture/
horticulture to begin a degree of leisure time would be required. Growing
crops certainly does not imply instant gratification. Groups of people had
grown large enough to maintain settled sites, begin intensive agriculture and
get real serious about deforestation. The resulting soil loss was beginning
to have regional effects (a source of stress). Groups of people would, by
this time, have developed techniques to guard against raids from others
wanting or in need of resources. Sauer argues that the leisure time required
was provided by a pastoral existence and that resources were sufficient to
allow these people time to sit around and watch their crops grow. I won't
attempt to go into the entire mechanism here, but if anyone out there in
Cyber-ia is knowledgable about this, by all means post on the topic.

I must differ with Sauer when he says that pastoralism (or at least the
population of pastoralists) spread from North Africa and the Mediterranean
region into the steppes. In my initial post on this topic I remarked that
there was quite a jump between the "Ordos Man" of Mongolia and the agricultural
societies of 4-5000 BC. I believe the steppes were permanently populated and
did not need an infusion of southern peoples to maintain their population.
Discussions in _Quaternary Extinctions..._ do a pretty good job of describing
what was hunted, with what technology, and when. So, it seems we have two
distinct military traditions developing. The first with pastoral/
agriculturalists developing city-states learning techniques for attacking/
defending "places"; and, the second with open field hunters (with little or
no agriculture) concentrating on moving targets.

This is not to say there was no contact between these two "civilizations".
I believe there was intermittent contact between the two, some peaceful and
some violent. Consider, there was about 35,000 years between Ordos Man and
the expansion of the Indo-Europeans. And, by the time of the Indo-European
expansion the Egyptians and the Babylonians had already established
civilization's "Major League" complete with all the requisite civil wars
and conflicts. I don't know what was happening in China proper as everything
previous to the Shang Dynasty is considered legendary, however, dynasties
are not borne from a vacuum. Power struggles of some sort must have
occurred that did not affect the Inner Mongolian agriculturalists directly
until about 4000 BC. I'd still like to know how those fat pregnant "Venus
figurines" became ubiquitious with agricultural societies throughout
Europe and Asia. How did these female-oriented agricultural societies,
male-oriented agricultural/heirarchical city-states, and pastoral semi-
heirarchical male-oriented tribes interract?

Another question that enters in here is the variations in religion we
find in these three different groups. I'd like to see what others have to say
on this before I go on with it.

Finally, the use of the term "Civilization" is still unclear. On the
net I've seen it defined in terms of a required heirarchical society and/or
a required city-state system. Two of the books I've relied upon have
different definitions. The tour book from the mongolian exhibit is titled
_Empires Beyond the Great Wall..._. The mongolian cultures discussed did
not create any great city-states on the steppes but they did create a
complex heirarchical societal structure. Gimbutas' book is titled
_Civilization of the Goddess_. The cultures established cities, some
relatively large. I would hestitate to call them "states", however the
societies were complex. She claims they were not heirarchical. The Egyptians
and the Babylonians have long been considered "civilizations". Do all these
groups warrant the use of the term "civilization"? To tie it all together:
is war a function of civilization?

----------- There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, ----------------
Scott Holmes <> Informix 4GL Applications
---------------- Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ------------------------