Friday, August 31, 2007

A Saharasian Massacre Site, c.3800 BCE

Warrior nomads attack a peaceful settlement?  Mass murder.  Head-chopping.  Mutilations.  Followed by the victors holding a happy feast on the conquered people's herd animals?  Both murdered people and debris from the feast are heaped into the same pit, and the site is abandoned as the warriors move on to rape and pillage the next settlement.   My book "Saharasia" contains a discussion on the widespread nature of such settlement ruins in the Syrian Desert, all of which were wiped away by the combined effects of drought and mass-invasions of warrior-nomads out of Arabia and Central Asia.

Hopefully the archaeologists are not funded by Saudi money, so as to erase the Arabian nature of those invaders, and will not get infected with influenza P.Correctus, which causes the eyes to glaze over...  J.D.


Burial clue to early urban strife
Only a fraction of the burial pit has been excavated
Archaeologists working in Syria have unearthed the remains of dozens of youths thought to have been killed in a fierce confrontation 6,000 years ago.

According to Science magazine, the celebrating victors may even have feasted on beef in the aftermath.
The findings come from northeastern Syria, near Tell Brak, one of the world's oldest known cities.
More than 30 years of continuous excavation have revealed the site's remarkable sophistication.
Studies by British and American archaeologists published in the journals Antiquity and Science suggest Tell Brak was a flourishing urban centre at the same time as better known early cities from southern Iraq.
The work also indicates that, unusually, the Syrian city grew from the outside-in, rather than the inside-out.
A third paper, due to be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Iraq, details the burials at Tell Majnuna, 0.5km from the main urban site at Tell Brak.

Two mass burial pits have been excavated at this site. The first has so far revealed the bones of 34 young to middle-aged adults. Thus far, only a small portion have been excavated.

"There could be hundreds and potentially thousands," said Augusta McMahon, an archaeologist at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Ancient forensics

At least two skulls show signs of injuries that could have caused death. The absence of feet and hand bones and the fact that many of the skulls apparently rolled off when they were tossed in the pit hints that they were left to decompose before burial.

A mass of pottery, mostly vessels for serving and eating, along with cow bones were also found lying on top of the skeletons.

The experts interpret this as evidence for a large feast, according to the news report in Science.
A second mass burial pit has been found about 12m away. At least 28 individuals have been uncovered from this location.

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