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28 June 2008
Prehistoric mass grave found in Germany

Durham University-led researchers say that genetic evidence from 34 skeletons from a prehistoric mass grave in southwest Germany dating back to around 5000 BCE shows the deaths were the result of a tribal war over the need for female companionship.
     While adult females were found among the immigrant skeletons, only men and children were found among the native group of skeletons buried in the village of Talheim. The lack of local females, the researchers said, shows that they were captured instead - a possible primary motivation for the attack.
     "It seems this community was specifically targeted, as could happen in a cycle of revenge between rival groups. Although resources and population were undoubtedly factors in central Europe around that time, women appear to be the immediate reason for the attack," lead author Dr. Alex Bentley of Durham University's Anthropology Department, said in a statement. "Our analysis points to the local women being regarded as somehow special and were therefore kept alive." The team made the conclusions based on the strontium, carbon and oxygen isotopes signatures of the skeletons' teeth. These give vital information about the skeletons' geological origin and diet.
     While written accounts of fighting over women in the last hundred years exist, most archaeological evidence points to violence erupting over resources, overcrowding and property in more ancient times. The German findings for the first time strongly suggest violence took place over mates as early as prehistoric times, scientists said. German skeletal experts first suspected the deliberateness of the prehistoric attack after determining that a blow to the left side of the head killed most of the victims. This suggested the victims were bound and killed, probably with a stone axe.

Source: Yahoo! News (13 June 2008)

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