A prehistory of violence: Evidence of violence related skull trauma in southern Sweden, 2300-1100 BCE

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Abstract

Warriors and warfare have become common themes within Bronze Age archaeology the past 10 -20 years. Recent reporting of Neolithic and Bronze Age massacres and battlefields in Germany supports endemic violence in these regions. But what about in southern Scandinavia? This paper explores the evidence of violence related skull trauma from a pooled sample of 257 individuals from 40 different localities in southern Sweden. The results show that there is a relatively large difference in the frequency of skull trauma depending on burial type. Due to the common practice of Early Bronze Age reburials in Late Neolithic gallery graves, the high frequency of trauma in gallery graves and barrows is probably linked to increased violence rates in the Early Bronze Age. The majority of cases are caused by blunt force, and up to 13% of the individuals were affected. Most of the traumata were healed, especially among males. It is probable that the high levels of blunt force skull trauma in southern Sweden mirrors a society with endemic warfare during the Early Bronze Age.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLife and Afterlife in the Nordic Bronze Age
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 15th Nordic Bronze Age Symposium held in Lund 11th to 15th June 2019
EditorsAnna Tornberg, Andreas Svensson, Jan Apel
Place of PublicationLund
PublisherDepartment of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University
Pages99-118
ISBN (Electronic)978-91-89415-44-7
ISBN (Print)978-91-89415-43-0
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventThe 15th Nordic Bronze Age Symposium - Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Duration: 2019 Jun 112019 Jun 15

Publication series

NameActa Archaeologica Lundensia Series Prima in 4º
Number37
ISSN (Electronic)0065-1001

Conference

ConferenceThe 15th Nordic Bronze Age Symposium
Country/TerritorySweden
CityLund
Period2019/06/112019/06/15

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Archaeology

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