Letters on Evolutionary Behavioral Science, Vol 8, No 1 (2017)

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Violence and warfare in prehistoric Japan

Tomomi Nakagawa, Hisashi Nakao, Kohei Tamura, Yui Arimatsu, Naoko Matsumoto, Takehiko Matsugi


The origins and consequences of warfare or large-scale intergroup violence have been subject of long debate. Based on exhaustive surveys of skeletal remains for prehistoric hunter-gatherers and agriculturists in Japan, the present study examines levels of inferred violence and their implications for two evolutionary models, which ground warfare in parochial altruism versus subsistence. The former assumes that frequent warfare played an important role in the evolution of altruism, while the latter sees warfare as promoted by social changes induced by agriculture. Our results are inconsistent with the parochial altruism model but consistent with the subsistence model, although the mortality values attributable to violence between hunter-gatherers and agriculturists were comparable.

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Letters on Evolutionary Behavioral Science | ISSN  1884-927X |
Human Behavior and Evolution Society of Japan, 2010-