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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/22/2005 5:42:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/22/2005 5:43:34 PM EDT by samsong]
Apparently, the appearance of small arms caused nearly a 400,000 year vacuum of war in humankind's existence, says this article.

The spear brought peace on Earth, researcher claims

Aug. 22, 2005
Special to World Science

The invention of spears, paradoxically, heralded a long era of peace for Stone Age peoples, and helped them spread out of Africa to colonize the world, an anthropologist says in a new paper.

Raymond C. Kelly of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Mich., said spears made it costlier for people to attack each other, at least until people developed military organizations. This led to a nearly 400,000-year lull in group violence, said Kelly, writing in this week’s early online edition of the research journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kelly’s proposal adds one to the many theories researchers have advanced to explain why humans conduct wars, and whether warfare is hard-wired in the human brain.

He based his conclusions on observations of human tribal societies and of group fighting among chimps, which has been compared to a primitive form of warfare.

The period of peace, he said, may have been a bridge between an earlier era of warfare—in which our fighting was somewhat like the chimp battles—and a later one, lasting from around 14,000 years ago to today.

The two violent periods each had different characteristics in terms of the type of violence, Kelly argued. And the spear’s invention, he claimed in the paper, was a “major turning point.”

In the chimp battles that some researchers compare to warfare, the primates have been observed getting into fights as they roam the borders of their group’s territory. If a group of chimps encounters a lone chimp in that area, the group will sometimes take advantage of its numerical advantage to gang up on the lone chimp. A brutal death then ensues.

Some anthropologists have theorized that in evolutionary terms, this is a strategy to whittle away the strength of a neighboring group, in order to more easily encroach on its territory for food later.

Some other researchers disagree, but Kelly said he generally accepts the theory. In fact, people may have used similar strategies hundreds of thousands of years ago, he wrote.

But the spear, he added, made such tactics obsolete.

With killing at a distance possible, strength in numbers was no longer a deciding factor, he reasoned. Thus, invading a neighboring territory no longer paid off. Defenders usually had superior numbers in the area overall; better knowledge of the territory; and often the advantage of surprise, made possible by the ability to kill from afar.

With fighting no longer a profitable option, cooperation took over as a dominant strategy, Kelly reasoned.

Cooperation sometimes entailed one group moving away from another group, to go hunt elsewhere, rather than invading the other group’s hunting grounds, Kelly argued. This may have been a factor in humanity’s spread out of Africa to colonize the rest of the world, a dispersal that many scientists estimate took place sometime between 45,000 and 80,000 years ago.

The long period of peace came to an end, Kelly claimed, when humans developed more effective military organizations. Previously, fighting had been the province of hunters who basically freelanced as warriors, he said. This wasn’t conducive to all-out war. But later, this equation changed radically, as true warriors emerged.

This “facilitated the mobilization of all adult male group members and their participation in preplanned dawn raids on settlements in which the tactical advantages of surprise and numerical superiority could be brought to bear,” he wrote.

“At this juncture, the unit involved in combat is a raiding party… rather than a hunting party,” he added. And “the location of combat shifts from the border zone to the sleeping quarters at the core of a group’s territory.” This, Kelly claimed, led to the “origin of war” in the modern sense of the word.

Brings new meaning to the saying, "An armed society is a polite society." Of course, we all know that weapons can't have any advantageous effects upon mankind, since they tend to go around killing schoolchildren all on their own, at least according to the Leftist brainiacs running government schools.
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 5:45:15 PM EDT
Nuclear weapons worked the same way. They made an all-out war between the East and West unteneble.
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 5:46:23 PM EDT
"This led to a nearly 400,000-year lull in group violence"

I'm skeptical.......
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 5:49:55 PM EDT
This has inspired me to write another short story: humans get released onto an alien world stocked with terran wildlife and left to survive on their own wits. The interaction between various groups will be the main focus of the story.
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