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14 – And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.

15 – And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?

16 – Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.

17 – Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

18 – But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

- King James Bible, Numbers 31

In the 20th century the Lithuanian archaeologist Marija Gimbutas posited that the emergence of pre-Christian European culture went through two phases after the Mesolithic. First, there were the Neolithic Old Europeans who brought agriculture. Then there were the Kurgan people from the steppe, who brought Indo-European languages and warlike patriarchal values to the continent.By the 1990s many archaeologists had turned against the Kurgan model of Indo-Europeanization, leaning rather toward the proposition that the Old Europeans themselves were Indo-Europeans. I believe that the latest work in genetics, utilizing powerful statistical inference techniques leveraging genomics and computational biology, and ancient DNA, suggest that Gimbutas was right in terms of the role of the Kurgan people as promoters of Indo-European culture in Northern Europe. Even those who supported the Kurgan hypothesis, such as David Anthony, were apparently shocked at the magnitude of the genetic turnover.

warbefore But Gimbutas probably went very wrong is the idea that Old Europeans were a peaceful and matriarchal society. First, though there are matrilineal societies, and matrifocal societies, to my knowledge there are no matriachal societies which are analogs to the patriarchies you might find in the modern Arab world or ancient Athens (and frankly, most agricultural and post-agricultural societies). Certainly there were societies where powerful women were shaping the course of events. This influence may even be institutionalized (I’m thinking of the Iroquois as an instance of a case). But there were no societies where rulers were exclusively women and men were forced into roles of total passivity in matters of war and politics, and property as a class.

That’s the truism as informed by what we know from surveying cultures in the historical record and extant today. But there is a spectrum of empirical phenomena in terms of magnitude. During the Roman Empire the women of the Latin West continued to have liberties and freedoms that were customary for them during antiquity (the power of the Julio-Claudian women and Theodora seem less shocking when considering the public prominence of elite women during the Republican period, which some ascribe to the role of Etruscan women in their society). When the focus of Roman power shifted toward Constantinople in the 4th century, one visible marker distinguishing elite women of western cultural affiliation, as opposed to those who were of the Greek nobility, is that the latter were often veiled, perhaps echoing the seclusion of ancient Athenian women of good family.

Similarly, though Japanese civilization is influenced, perhaps even derived, in large part from Chinese civilization, one major distinction between the two is that the in the ideal and often in practice the Chinese have subordinated military values to civilian ones to an exceptional extent for a pre-modern society. In contrast, the Japanese developed a military aristocracy which eventually superseded the civilian nobility. This results in the anachronistic romanticization of a martial ethos such as in bushido, which has no clear analogy in the Chinese world view. Obviously here I am not saying that the Chinese were a purely pacific people. And there were ages when martial values were ascendant, for example the early Tang. But the fact that the founder of the Song dynasty, a general, encouraged a demilitarization of his ruling class makes much more sense in light of the ethos of Chinese elite culture going back to the end of the Warring States period. In contrast, the Western aristocracy, often directly descended from Germanic warlords, have retained an ethos where physical violence and competition is more meritorious. The emergence of firearms necessitated a shift away from direct front-line combat to minimize casualties, and a channeling of energies into patronage of high culture and foppish self-cultivation. But even today the princes of the House of Windsor continue to serve in military professions, putting the role of the soldier in Western society in stark relief as one of esteem.

51PS1EGohbL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_ I bring this up to reiterate that though we see the past through a dark mirror, we must filter its probabilities through what we know of societies today, and those that are historically attested. Human phenomena is not infinitely flexible, but exhibits modal peaks across the distribution of possibilities. Our expectations should not be uniform and agnostic. The Old Europeans may have been gynocentric pacifists, but if they were then they were sui generis among human societies. As time machines are not feasible we will never truly know in a direct sense what they were like. Rather, we must look to aligning material remains with theoretical expectations given what we know about the nature of human societies. Interpretation will always occur. The key is to obtain the proper framework to generate true inferences. In Lawrence Keeley’s War Before Civilization the author observes how the objects which might be useful as weapons in graves have often been interpreted as “ritual” markers of status, as if conspicuous consumption was always the primary form of status competition. Written in the 1990 War Before Civilization was a seminal work taking on the neo-Rousseauan model head-on, that war was somehow a contingent invention of civilization. A terrible mistake.

A recent paper in PNAS puts the final nail in the coffin of this strong form of the neo-Roussseauan paradigm, which now has little support even from scholars such as Brian Ferguson. The paper is The massacre mass grave of Schöneck-Kilianstädten reveals new insights into collective violence in Early Neolithic Central Europe:

The Early Neolithic massacre-related mass grave of Schöneck-Kilianstädten presented here provides new data and insights for the ongoing discussions of prehistoric warfare in Central Europe. Although several characteristics gleaned from the analysis of the human skeletal remains support and strengthen previous hypotheses based on the few known massacre sites of this time, a pattern of intentional mutilation of violence victims identified here is of special significance. Adding another key site to the evidence for Early Neolithic warfare generally allows more robust and reliable reconstructions of the possible reasons for the extent and frequency of outbreaks of lethal mass violence and the general impact these events had on shaping the further development of the Central European Neolithic.

The body of of the text engages in a deep osteological analysis, but in the language of the street, “they fucked these people up.” In particular, the victims seem to have had their lower extremities maimed or crushed. If they were still alive when this occurred then it was clearly a form of torture. If they were dead, then it was clearly a spiteful mutilation of the dead, and the valence has to be symbolic rather than utilitarian. The victims in the assemblage exhibited a curious demographic pattern. There were infants below one year of age, as well as young children, but no older children or adolescents. The only two adult women were over the age of forty. The rest of the adults killed were men.

We can’t know what happened with certainty. These were preliterate people. But with what we know about the nature of human culture it seems that an obvious narrative presents itself. As noted in the paper this was an LBK site. But, it seems that the community was on the border of two LBK trade networks (as inferred from the distribution and character of material remains). On the frontier of agricultural production, when land is in surplus, one can imagine that there was little inter-group conflict between LBK coalitions. What we would probably term “tribes.” Additionally, there was almost certainly a “meta-ethnic frontier” which Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, who we now know were genetically and physically very distinct from the LBK people (naively projecting genetic variance statistics, their difference was in the ballpark as that between modern Chinese and Northern Europeans, Fst ~ 0.10).

But what happens when Malthusian constraints begin to close in? In the Moral Consequences of Economic Growth Benjamin Friedman suggests that in American history economic stagnation and stress lead to greater xenophobia, and reduced openness. And one doesn’t need a deep history lesson to observe what occurred in Europe during the 1930s. Retrenchment invariably leads to turning back to collective units of organization and protection. Once the LBK reached a stationary state, which reduced marginal returns to labor input, and likely produced increased sensitivity to environmental perturbations, then it is entirely expected that “inter-group competition” would emerge as one of the ways in which the carrying capacity would maintain a “check” on numbers. Sedentary agriculturalists must scramble for scarce resources. There’s no running off, at least at this stage of social complexity.

The fact that the LBK turned on each other should condition our understanding of how the transition to the Corded Ware may have occurred. The Y chromosomes of the LBK period are very different from what we find in Bronze Age Europe. The most reasonable model I believe is that these lineages did not go silently into the night. As they did to each other, so was done unto them. In J. R. R. Tolkien’s work there are allusions to the coming Fourth Age of Middle Earth, an age of men. The rise of agricultural mass society was the age of men in our world. Hunter-gatherer societies were no idyll, but due to their small scale, and complementarity in economic production, the relationship between the sexes was not one of male domination, where women were property to be traded as chattel. But concentrated and sedentary units of economic production that arose with village life became an inevitable target of extraction from collective groups of males, who translated their significant superior upper body strength into a reign of coercive terror. That coercion was translated into reproductive success, which is evident in the explosion of a finite set of Y chromosomal lineages on the order of ~5,000 years ago. The common R1a1a ancestor of Daniel MacArthur and myself was the original O G thug.

In evolutionary genetics R. A. Fisher introduced the idea that when selection pressures come to bear upon a population, large effect mutations may increase rapidly in frequency to increase population mean fitness. But, these mutations are not without cost, one reason that they were likely at low frequency in the first place. For example, one of the most well known adaptations to malaria famously has a very large segregation load in terms of a recessive disease. Evolutionary theory predicts over time that the adaptation will be less genetically disruptive. New mutations which allow for adaptation without the costs may emerge, or, other mutations may arise to “mask” and “modify” the deleterious effect of the initially favored allele.

When John Maynard Keynes purchased the papers of Isaac Newton he was shocked at the proportion of the great physicists writings devoted to matters occult and esoteric. Keynes declared that Newton was the ” last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago.” In opening the new age with his beautiful system of rational science, Newton nevertheless reflected an ancient ethos which persisted down into the modern period.

The Jewish people have been critical in the development of a universal ethical monotheism in the West, part of the broader evolution away from the supernatural systems of the Bronze Age that occurred across the Axial Age. But the Hebrew Bible preserves within it a world far removed from the divine Logos, a God of law and morality. The angry and jealous sky god of the Hebrews also enjoins upon them genocide of other tribes. Though the Hebrew Bible is pregnant with the possibilities of religious ethical universalism, the voice of the prophets’ righteous indignation raw with rage alive in our age, and channeled through the gentler voices of Hillel and Jesus, it also is a record of a parochial and peculiar people, who wash their hands of their atrocity by attributing it to the capricious and vindictive will of their god. If Moses and Joshua did exist, they almost certainly would have more in common with the war-chiefs of early Neolithic Europe, 4,000 years before their time, than men such as Constantine, who 1,300 years later promulgated a universal religion for a universal empire.

51w0iMybWyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Ancient Egypt, with its autocratic god-kings, was arguably one of the end-points of the Neolithic experiment with mass culture and ideology. So were Shang China and Mycenaean Greece, with their human sacrifices to propitiate the gods. Increasing primary productivity by an order of magnitude, which farming did, resulted in the emergence of huge amalgamations of humanity, and we as a species are culturally creative enough to have come up with adaptations. Literacy, cities, and social stratification, were all responses to the stresses and pressures that the opportunity of mass society presented. The emergence of powerful menacing and extortionate patrilineages was another. This was a world of gangs, thugs, and the question was not whether you would become a thug, it was whether you would be a thug or a victim of a thug. They were necessary, inevitable, cultural mutations against the background pressures that agricultural imposed upon humanity.

But as per Fisher’s model, mutants with deleterious consequences invite their own response. They are tamed and civilized by a scaffold of modifiers. The brutal gods which were but reflections of human vice and caprice were drafted in the service of primal human psychological impulses forged during the Paleolithic, reciprocity and egalitarianism arose against the background of brutality beyond imagining unleashed by the social dislocation that was a consequence of agricultural society. The men and women shaped by the Hebrew prophets and Christian Church Fathers, the rishis of the Upanishads and the Chinese sages, they are all closer to us 2,000 years later, then they were to their own forebears only a few hundred years earlier in their own past.

These models operate in the world between one of naive innate cognitive reflexes and pure cultural inventions generated without reference to the functional constraints of our minds and environments. The independent experiment of the Aztec Mesoamerican society suggests that the same stage of brutal social order that had occurred during the Neolithic was playing out in the New World. The Aztecs were engaging in ritual cannibalism and human sacrifice in a manner not seen in Old World civilizations since the Bronze Age. Some inventions are inevitable, emergent properties of the intersection of our biobehavioral toolkit and our species’ incredible cultural flexibility. Though we may believe ourselves to be far beyond the LBK people, the Nazi gas chambers or the more recent events in Rwanda suggest that the same mental reflexes of coalition-building and competition can be co-opted toward organized violent ends even today. Peace is possible, but violence is always imaginable.

Addendum: This Azar Gat article argues for the reality of war among hunter-gatherers, extensively citing what we know about Australian Aboriginal culture on the eve of European settlement. It would indicate that the only thing separating our Pleistocene ancestors from ourselves in terms of violence would be scale and organization, with ideology a novel handmaid.

 
• Category: History, Science • Tags: Indo-Europeans, War 
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  1. But Gimbutas probably went very wrong is the idea that Old Europeans were a peaceful and matriarchal society.

    Totally agree. I visited the pre-Celtic hill-forts in Britain – replete with murder holes, ramparts and overlapping fields of fire – and wondered how on earth anyone could imagine the people who built them as matriarchal pacifists.

    First, though there are matrilineal societies, and matrifocal societies, to my knowledge there are no matriachal societies which are analogs to the patriarchies you might find in the modern Arab world or ancient Athens (and frankly, most agricultural and post-agricultural societies). Certainly there were societies where powerful women were shaping the course of events. This influence may even be institutionalized (I’m thinking of the Iroquois as an instance of a case).

    Actually, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to compare Athens with Semitic cultures in that regard. For one thing, Indo-Europeans, including Greeks, always had a class of priestesses or female seers/oracles. I don’t think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs. Women were particularly valued for their counsel in war.

    As the saga goes:

    “og eru köld kvenna ráð”

    There is no more peace in a woman’s heart than a man’s. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if women were at least as responsible as men for Indo-European war parties.

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    • Replies: @marcel proust
    There is no more peace in a woman’s heart than a man’s. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if women were at least as responsible as men for Indo-European war parties.

    This thought is consistent with the specification of a (the?) Semitic war deity:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anat#.E2.80.98Anat_in_Ugarit

    See also the other sections of this article.

    , @Anonymous
    Women tended to be veiled and cloistered at home away from the public in Athens. They generally didn't leave their homes without their fathers or husbands accompanying them. Ancient Rome was similarly patriarchal and husbands were allowed to beat and even kill their wives. There are ancient writings that approvingly cite such cases.

    Ancient Semitic and pre-Islamic Arabian religion had priestesses and goddesses.
    , @Razib Khan
    ancient Rome was similarly patriarchal and husbands were allowed to beat and even kill their wives.

    no, it wasn't similarly. that was the point of the point. i wish people would read it ancient roman matrons dined with men and had some awareness of politics and even involvement. this was surprising to greeks.

    I don’t think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs.

    yeah, it does. there was even possible polyandry among pre-islamic arabs (not uncommon for a particular type of pastoralist). google hind utbah. or i'm assuming u know about zenobia? i'm sure you know plenty about the greeks but you probably don't know enough semites to make a good point of comparison. artemis is often argued to be semitic btw.

    , @anowow
    Oh man, you are forgetting the Bible.

    What was the witch in Endor if not a seer? Probably a seer practicing a form of Hebrew religion that latter Jerusalem cult proponents viewed with distrust.


    And one of the oldest stories in the Bible, if Biblical criticism scholars are correct, is the Song of Deborah.


    That said, popular goddesses and individual empowered women can exist in societies where women are generally viewed as subordinate.

    Hebrews and other Levantine Semitic speaking groups were part of a very old West Asian culture area, the population of which contributed substantially to the makeup of the ancient Greeks. We focus so much on the Greeks as Europeans (as did they themselves) we forget that they were just as equally Mediterranean. In terms of their dna, farming practices and eating habits, they had as much or more in common with ancient peoples in the Levant, Anatolia and Transcaucasus than they did with Indo-European speaking peoples in Central, Western or Northern Europe.

    , @LevantineJew
    Actually, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to compare Athens with Semitic cultures in that regard. For one thing, Indo-Europeans, including Greeks, always had a class of priestesses or female seers/oracles. I don’t think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs. Women were particularly valued for their counsel in war.

    I'm not entirely sure what do you mean by "Semitic culture"[*], but if you talking about people speaking Semitic languages in the Levant and Mesopotamia, they did had an institute of Sacred/Temple Prostitution [1] - the females dedicated to Temple called "kedeshah" [2]

    Whatever the cultic significance of a kedeshah to a follower of the Canaanite religion, the Hebrew Bible makes it clear that cultic prostitution had no place in Judaism. Thus the Hebrew version of Deuteronomy 23:17-18 tells followers:

    None of the daughters of Israel shall be a kedeshah, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a kadesh.
    You shall not bring the hire of a prostitute (zonah) or the wages of a dog (kelev) into the house of the Lord your God to pay a vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

     


     
    Also almost every deity in Levant/Mesopotamia/Egypt had a direct analogue in Greek/Roman pantheon, i.e. Ishtar/Asherah and Aphrodite/Venus.

    In the early Israelite religion, there was male god and his female consort - 'Asherah" [3].


    [*] while most of Canaanites spoke Semitic languages, Hebrew Bible don't consider them to be descendants of Shem.

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution
    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution#In_the_Hebrew_Bible
    [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah#In_Israel_and_Judah
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  2. “Corded War” – shouldn’t that be “Corded Ware” ?

    @BillP – “I visited the pre-Celtic hill-forts in Britain

    Which are these? I assumed most if not all British hill-forts were Celtic, even if previous peoples had inhabited the sites.

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    • Replies: @Bill P

    Which are these? I assumed most if not all British hill-forts were Celtic, even if previous peoples had inhabited the sites.
     
    The ones dating to the Bronze Age in general, and probably a number from the early Iron Age. Celtic speakers arrived in Britain some time around 2,500 years ago according to historical linguists. Couldn't have been earlier than 800 BC in any event, because there was no distinct Celtic language branch before then.

    Because there is no evidence of pre-Celtic Indo Europeans in the British Isles, the hill forts that predate Celts must have been built by non-Indo European people. In many cases it seems Celts took them over. Some of the evidence of earlier languages in Britain is supposedly preserved in the names of hill forts, such as the ubiquitous "dun," which is taken to mean "fortress" in the old language.

    Here's an example of a pre-Celtic fort in Ireland (construction began in 1,100 BC). Pretty impressive.
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  3. The kidnapping of women is something that foragers do as well, but the advent of states and strong coercive institutions made possible the use of military age men as slaves sparing them from being massacred.
    That quote from the Old Testament sounds like what ISIS is saying.
    The OG thugs were indians https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/thug.

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  4. Great article!

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  5. You’re getting way out front, Razib.

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  6. What you attribute to the Jews is more properly attributed to the Persians. In fact the departure from Old Testament nastiness to something new centers around the Babylonian Captivity and the subsequent restoration by Cyrus the Great. One imagines magi working with the priests of both Marduk and Yahweh when Nabonidus tried to impose the worship of Sin on Babylon, to prepare the battlefield ideologically for the greeting of the Persians as Liberators (history rhyming, if not repeating, in our own time).

    The magi transmitted much of their religion in the process.

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    • Agree: SolontoCroesus
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  7. @Bill P

    But Gimbutas probably went very wrong is the idea that Old Europeans were a peaceful and matriarchal society.
     
    Totally agree. I visited the pre-Celtic hill-forts in Britain - replete with murder holes, ramparts and overlapping fields of fire - and wondered how on earth anyone could imagine the people who built them as matriarchal pacifists.

    First, though there are matrilineal societies, and matrifocal societies, to my knowledge there are no matriachal societies which are analogs to the patriarchies you might find in the modern Arab world or ancient Athens (and frankly, most agricultural and post-agricultural societies). Certainly there were societies where powerful women were shaping the course of events. This influence may even be institutionalized (I’m thinking of the Iroquois as an instance of a case).
     
    Actually, I don't think it's entirely fair to compare Athens with Semitic cultures in that regard. For one thing, Indo-Europeans, including Greeks, always had a class of priestesses or female seers/oracles. I don't think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs. Women were particularly valued for their counsel in war.

    As the saga goes:

    "og eru köld kvenna ráð"

    There is no more peace in a woman's heart than a man's. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if women were at least as responsible as men for Indo-European war parties.

    There is no more peace in a woman’s heart than a man’s. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if women were at least as responsible as men for Indo-European war parties.

    This thought is consistent with the specification of a (the?) Semitic war deity:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anat#.E2.80.98Anat_in_Ugarit

    See also the other sections of this article.

    Read More
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  8. Any estimate for the Fst between core Yamnaya and the typical citizen of Compton @ 1995?

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    • Replies: @Matt_

    Any estimate for the Fst between core Yamnaya and the typical citizen of Compton @ 1995?
     
    If you're asking what I think, the Yamnaya samples from the Haak et al 2015 paper (http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2015/02/10/013433.full-text.pdf+html - "Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe") have a FST of 0.158 from West African Yoruba, according to that paper.

    A sample of comparable stats for other ancient and modern populations from the same table in ascending order are French-Yoruba 0.147, Russian-Yoruba 0.148, Bell Beaker-Yoruba 0.151, Sardinian-Yoruba 0.153, Basque-Yoruba 0.155, Lithuanian-Yoruba 0.155, Hungary Early Neolithic-Yoruba 0.156, Linearbandkeramik-Yoruba 0.163, Spain Early Neolithic-Yoruba 0.169, Han-Yoruba 0.177, EHG-Yoruba 0.179, WHG-Yoruba 0.195, Onge-Yoruba 0.222, Karitiana-Yoruba 0.270.
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  9. Excellent article, I hope it is published more widely, but I have a question re:

    It would indicate that the only thing separating our Pleistocene ancestors from ourselves in terms of violence would be scale and organization, with ideology a novel handmaid.

    (my emphasis on the word “only”)

    By use of the word “only” should I take that you disagree with Cochran and Harpending about the possible pacification of Europeans by removal of more violent members, and that you place little value on the differences in rates of MAO alleles between populations?

    Or am I placing to much emphasis on one word?

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  10. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Bill P

    But Gimbutas probably went very wrong is the idea that Old Europeans were a peaceful and matriarchal society.
     
    Totally agree. I visited the pre-Celtic hill-forts in Britain - replete with murder holes, ramparts and overlapping fields of fire - and wondered how on earth anyone could imagine the people who built them as matriarchal pacifists.

    First, though there are matrilineal societies, and matrifocal societies, to my knowledge there are no matriachal societies which are analogs to the patriarchies you might find in the modern Arab world or ancient Athens (and frankly, most agricultural and post-agricultural societies). Certainly there were societies where powerful women were shaping the course of events. This influence may even be institutionalized (I’m thinking of the Iroquois as an instance of a case).
     
    Actually, I don't think it's entirely fair to compare Athens with Semitic cultures in that regard. For one thing, Indo-Europeans, including Greeks, always had a class of priestesses or female seers/oracles. I don't think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs. Women were particularly valued for their counsel in war.

    As the saga goes:

    "og eru köld kvenna ráð"

    There is no more peace in a woman's heart than a man's. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if women were at least as responsible as men for Indo-European war parties.

    Women tended to be veiled and cloistered at home away from the public in Athens. They generally didn’t leave their homes without their fathers or husbands accompanying them. Ancient Rome was similarly patriarchal and husbands were allowed to beat and even kill their wives. There are ancient writings that approvingly cite such cases.

    Ancient Semitic and pre-Islamic Arabian religion had priestesses and goddesses.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ballomar
    @Bill P

    There seems to have been a lot of variation in Greece. Athenian women were indeed most probably veiled unless they were prostitutes.

    Spartan women on the other hand had a reputation for being very beautiful, of walking around semi-naked and often hitting the gym. Note that Helen 'of Troy', was actually from Sparta and Paris was so overcome with her beauty he abducted her to Troy.

    This presents a very interesting split in Greek culture. Whether that split is between Ionians and Dorians or between an older Ionian Greek culture and the culture of more recent Dorian invaders is hard to say, but very interesting and worth exploring, imv.
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  11. When you say that villages were easy targets for groups of men, what about the men of the village themselves? What makes them incapable of defending their society against marauders? Or are you describing the kind of societies found in, say, West Africa, where village men live off the labor of the village women? My understanding was that European agriculture was always different in that men had to be involved in labor, since only they had the upper-body strength necessary for plowing the tough northern soil, whereas in the tropics only hoes were needed for tilling soil, which women could do alone.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

    When you say that villages were easy targets for groups of men, what about the men of the village themselves? What makes them incapable of defending their society against marauders?
     
    Jared Diamond made much of the case for "farmer power" in "Guns, Germs, and Steel." While it is true that sedentary civilizations did/do confer many advantages to their defenders (not the least of which are money and manpower, setting aside the whole disease resistance element), there are significant comparative military disadvantages vis-à-vis pastoral/semi-nomadic "marauders."

    1. Labor specialization. Sedentary societies tend to have both socio-economic classes and professional specializations (often manifesting as castes). Ideally, the small armed leadership at the top provided cohesion, stability, and dispute arbitration. In reality, they were often parasitic and extracted rents while brutalizing their inferiors. Such men therefore had an incentive to keep the productive classes docile and unarmed/unskilled in the ways of war. This tended to lower dramatically the numbers of armed and skilled warriors in such a society as a percentage.

    2. Internal mobilization rates. This is related to item 1. Farming and war-making are usually mutually exclusive activities. So full-time farmers make poor warriors or none at all. The Spartan Peers were feared for their courage, cunning, and war-making skills precisely because they were full-time, professional warriors trained since childhood. But this extremely tough life apparently limited their fertility, and Sparta always suffered from an armed manpower shortage, which arguably did them in at the end.

    In contrast, the pastoral/semi-nomadic lifestyle is highly compatible with war-making. Hunting, herding, and butchering animals is excellent training for warfare (which also generally breeds familiarity with horsemanship that enormously enhance both tactical and strategic mobility). Famously, Genghis Khan's Mongols held huge hunts that simulated warfare - creating what a modern military strategy would call giant pincer movements that hemmed in animals and then led to their slaughter. Despite their very low population density, pastoralists therefore had not only a greatly increased war-making skill advantages, but had incredibly high internal mobilization rates, that is, the entire able-bodied male population comprised the warrior-hood (and sometimes even the females were no slouches in horsemanship and archery and could fight when things got desperate).

    3. Mobility and initiative. Pastoralists/semi-nomadic marauders had high mobility and generally could pick the time and place for the battle. They could often avoid combat and flee safely if outnumbered greatly, only to return later to wreak havoc when the timing suited them. When attacking villages and towns, they could launch a surprise attack and create enormous confusion and dislocation amongst the sedentary populations, which is why settled populations generally built walls to reduce the risk of sudden raids.

    Unwalled towns with hundreds and even thousands of people can be overrun by a few men if the latter had the advantage of surprise (and surprise is often of an enormous importance in combat - usually battles are fought by more-or-less equally matched armies, but in the very rare occasions when the weak defeat the strong, the key element is almost always surprise; a great example of this is the Battle of Okehazama when Oda Nobunaga, with only 1,500 men, launched a surprise attack on Imagawa Yoshimoto's army of 25,000 men in a rainstorm and overwhelmed it).

    And on a slightly different note, I'd like to mention that in warfare "thuggish" behavior was always legitimate in one particular aspect: siege warfare.

    If an open battle were fought "in the field," typically some consideration was given for the ritualistic aspect of warfare even during "barbaric" times (e.g. honorable displays of courage by champions, taking of prisoners, retrieval of the dead, etc.). Even Mongols displayed "chivalric" behaviors toward those defeated in open combat and respected the courage of their adversaries (in fact, there is some evidence that the various Central Asian nomads had a fairly well-understood and -shared code of honor in battle contrary to their reputation as mindless, bloodthirsty killers).

    However, until quite recently in human history, the taking of walled towns and cities provided for no such quarter. If a town resisted and was taken by storm, all inside, lives and property, were forfeit to the victors. So siege warfare tended to be the most barbaric and brutal, across most, probably all, cultural spectrum, European or otherwise. Field battles were sometimes honorable contests of arms by men and men only. In siege battles, women and children desperately threw bricks and stones at the besiegers (allegedly that is how Pyrrhus died, hit by a tile thrown by some old woman of Argos). Once the latter broke in, the male defenders often slew their own women and children, because what awaited them was great dishonor and brutality - torture, rape, and mass slaughter even of babies, in addition to massive looting.

    To the victors go the spoils. Or as the Judges 5:30 says, "for every man a damsel or two." This held true at least as late as World War II.

    Now (if you are in the U.S. armed forces in any case), even minimal violence against civilians or taking of trinkets will land you in military prison.
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  12. @Bill P

    But Gimbutas probably went very wrong is the idea that Old Europeans were a peaceful and matriarchal society.
     
    Totally agree. I visited the pre-Celtic hill-forts in Britain - replete with murder holes, ramparts and overlapping fields of fire - and wondered how on earth anyone could imagine the people who built them as matriarchal pacifists.

    First, though there are matrilineal societies, and matrifocal societies, to my knowledge there are no matriachal societies which are analogs to the patriarchies you might find in the modern Arab world or ancient Athens (and frankly, most agricultural and post-agricultural societies). Certainly there were societies where powerful women were shaping the course of events. This influence may even be institutionalized (I’m thinking of the Iroquois as an instance of a case).
     
    Actually, I don't think it's entirely fair to compare Athens with Semitic cultures in that regard. For one thing, Indo-Europeans, including Greeks, always had a class of priestesses or female seers/oracles. I don't think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs. Women were particularly valued for their counsel in war.

    As the saga goes:

    "og eru köld kvenna ráð"

    There is no more peace in a woman's heart than a man's. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if women were at least as responsible as men for Indo-European war parties.

    ancient Rome was similarly patriarchal and husbands were allowed to beat and even kill their wives.

    no, it wasn’t similarly. that was the point of the point. i wish people would read it ancient roman matrons dined with men and had some awareness of politics and even involvement. this was surprising to greeks.

    I don’t think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs.

    yeah, it does. there was even possible polyandry among pre-islamic arabs (not uncommon for a particular type of pastoralist). google hind utbah. or i’m assuming u know about zenobia? i’m sure you know plenty about the greeks but you probably don’t know enough semites to make a good point of comparison. artemis is often argued to be semitic btw.

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    • Replies: @Bill M
    From what I understand, early Rome was much more patriarchal than the later republican and imperial period. In early Rome, the patria potestas (power) of the pater familias included extreme rights and privileges over the women and children in the family, but things were liberalized in the republican and imperial period.

    Here are some excerpts from the Twelve Tables of early Rome on women:

    http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/wlgr/wlgr-romanlegal108.shtml

    These are some excerpts on husbands in early Rome:

    http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/wlgr/wlgr-romanlegal109.shtml

    Egnatius Metellus [8] ... took a cudgel and beat his wife to death because she had drunk some wine. Not only did no one charge him with a crime, but no one even blamed him. Everyone considered this an excellent example of one who had justly paid the penalty for violating the laws of sobriety. Indeed, any woman who immoderately seeks the use of wine closes the door on all virtues and opens it to vices.

    There was also the harsh marital severity of Gaius Sulpicius Gallus. [9] He divorced his wife because he had caught her outdoors with her head uncovered: a stiff penalty, but not without a certain logic. 'The law,' he said, 'prescribes for you my eyes alone to which you may prove your beauty. For these eyes you should provide the ornaments of beauty, for these be lovely: entrust yourself to their more certain knowledge. If you, with needless provocation, invite the look of anyone else, you must be suspected of wrongdoing.'

    Quintus Antistius Vetus felt no differently when he divorced his wife because he had seen her in public having a private conversation with a common freedwoman. For, moved not by an actual crime but, so to speak, by the birth and nourishment of one, he punished her before the crime could be committed, so that he might prevent the deed's being done at all, rather than punish it afterwards.

    To these we should add the case of Publius Sempronius Sophus [10] who disgraced his wife with divorce merely because she dared attend the games without his knowledge. And so, long ago, when the misdeeds of women were thus forestalled, their minds stayed far from wrongdoing.
     
    , @Bill P

    i’m sure you know plenty about the greeks but you probably don’t know enough semites to make a good point of comparison. artemis is often argued to be semitic btw.
     
    Yeah, it's true -- I don't know much about prehistoric Semites. Not sure about Artemis being Semitic, though, because as far as I understand she's got a Nordic analog with Skadi.

    In general, I'm thinking of the seithr, which is a pretty recent thing. Recent enough to still be a part of folk tradition in historic times. So, actually, part of the stories we grew up with as kids. Even in colonial America there were still remnants of these institutions, or the memory of them. The old Dutch women in Ichabod Crane stories for example.

    Does that set us apart from Semites? Perhaps not, but maybe it's a more recent historical memory.

    As an aside, it gives me some ambivalent feelings about the decline of Christianity in the US. On the one hand, I'm worried about the accompanying shattering of communal norms, but on the other maybe we'll be free to be ourselves again. But if you think about it, being ourselves might not be such a bowl of cherries if you take the past into account.

    Either way, it's a pleasure to have the historical perspective you offer here. If I could add anything, perhaps in the broader picture sometimes we lose sight of the ancient things hidden in our little communities and families. There's still witchcraft, magic and the warp and weft of fate pulling us this way and that, and sometimes it seems that all the world is a winter night with only the hearth to illuminate the darkness. Maybe that's how the Greeks felt as they kept the flame alive at Delphi.

    In my mind, at least, it's a metaphor for the embers of the faith in life itself that characterizes womankind. But you're right: only a fool would believe it could be absent in a surviving people.
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  13. Or am I placing to much emphasis on one word?

    just this word.

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  14. What you attribute to the Jews is more properly attributed to the Persians.

    didn’t want to get into a discourse on the details. i’m well aware of the synthetic and collective nature of the emergence of higher religion in antiquity. there’s a reason i said “pregnant with possibilities.” ahura mazda also was originally a tribal god of some sort.

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  15. Algis Uzdavinys’ in “Orpheus and the Roots of Platonism” makes an interesting argument about the transmission of the concept of a unitary “god” or “truth” to the Greeks, Hebrews, and others via a subset of Egyptian (probably cultic) spiritual beliefs centering around Toth (God of Wisdom and Knowledge).

    Given this possibility of a single kernel spreading widely from an obscure source (I suppose you could argue the same for Christianity), it does make an interesting reinforcement of what you are saying about the Aztecs. They missed a small, but crucial input.

    on a side note, what I really like about Uzdavinys is that he has an aspect of a true believer in the philosophy-religion of Platonism. Oddly, to me an unbeliever, this gives his arguments more persuasiveness as to why the ideas would actually matter.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i think the aztecs would have gotten there. like war, these sorts of religions is what complex societies come up with as 'modifier mutations' to deal with the instability of radical realized inequality. peter turchin has proposed this explicitly. basically philosophical/metaphysical inflected ideas show up around the same time from the near east to india and china. there are obviously differences. but they're different adaptations to the fact that the bronze age system had reached the end of the line.

    we may be at the end of another cycle, who knows? modern chinese are more like the zhou than the zhou like the shang, arguably. modern greeks are more like the greeks of plato's time than they were like the people of the 12th century BC. perhaps we're on a threshold. i don't know.

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  16. @russell1200
    Algis Uzdavinys' in "Orpheus and the Roots of Platonism" makes an interesting argument about the transmission of the concept of a unitary "god" or "truth" to the Greeks, Hebrews, and others via a subset of Egyptian (probably cultic) spiritual beliefs centering around Toth (God of Wisdom and Knowledge).

    Given this possibility of a single kernel spreading widely from an obscure source (I suppose you could argue the same for Christianity), it does make an interesting reinforcement of what you are saying about the Aztecs. They missed a small, but crucial input.

    on a side note, what I really like about Uzdavinys is that he has an aspect of a true believer in the philosophy-religion of Platonism. Oddly, to me an unbeliever, this gives his arguments more persuasiveness as to why the ideas would actually matter.

    i think the aztecs would have gotten there. like war, these sorts of religions is what complex societies come up with as ‘modifier mutations’ to deal with the instability of radical realized inequality. peter turchin has proposed this explicitly. basically philosophical/metaphysical inflected ideas show up around the same time from the near east to india and china. there are obviously differences. but they’re different adaptations to the fact that the bronze age system had reached the end of the line.

    we may be at the end of another cycle, who knows? modern chinese are more like the zhou than the zhou like the shang, arguably. modern greeks are more like the greeks of plato’s time than they were like the people of the 12th century BC. perhaps we’re on a threshold. i don’t know.

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  17. also, just so people understand the reference to *straight out of compton* the extreme violence of inner city america in the 1980s was due to a confluence of forces. the high water mark has abated, and there was nothing of the same magnitude before. obviously the people hadn’t changed, but the context had, and they behaved in particular ways to survive and flourish. related to the point about arendt’s banality of evil i don’t think inter-group violence on a massive and brutal scale would have been very difficult for old europeans to imagine. just dependent on the context…

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  18. Early Christians foretold a time when faith would diminish on earth. Were they just prescient about modernity? Or were there trends in the ancient world they could extrapolate from? Did other religions make similar predictions?

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    we're in the kali yuga, aren't we? ;-)
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  19. @jtgw
    Early Christians foretold a time when faith would diminish on earth. Were they just prescient about modernity? Or were there trends in the ancient world they could extrapolate from? Did other religions make similar predictions?

    we’re in the kali yuga, aren’t we? ;-)

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    • Replies: @jtgw
    LOL I had to look that up. We've been living in sin since the time of Noah, or so it seems.
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  20. @Razib Khan
    ancient Rome was similarly patriarchal and husbands were allowed to beat and even kill their wives.

    no, it wasn't similarly. that was the point of the point. i wish people would read it ancient roman matrons dined with men and had some awareness of politics and even involvement. this was surprising to greeks.

    I don’t think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs.

    yeah, it does. there was even possible polyandry among pre-islamic arabs (not uncommon for a particular type of pastoralist). google hind utbah. or i'm assuming u know about zenobia? i'm sure you know plenty about the greeks but you probably don't know enough semites to make a good point of comparison. artemis is often argued to be semitic btw.

    From what I understand, early Rome was much more patriarchal than the later republican and imperial period. In early Rome, the patria potestas (power) of the pater familias included extreme rights and privileges over the women and children in the family, but things were liberalized in the republican and imperial period.

    Here are some excerpts from the Twelve Tables of early Rome on women:

    http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/wlgr/wlgr-romanlegal108.shtml

    These are some excerpts on husbands in early Rome:

    http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/wlgr/wlgr-romanlegal109.shtml

    Egnatius Metellus [8] … took a cudgel and beat his wife to death because she had drunk some wine. Not only did no one charge him with a crime, but no one even blamed him. Everyone considered this an excellent example of one who had justly paid the penalty for violating the laws of sobriety. Indeed, any woman who immoderately seeks the use of wine closes the door on all virtues and opens it to vices.

    There was also the harsh marital severity of Gaius Sulpicius Gallus. [9] He divorced his wife because he had caught her outdoors with her head uncovered: a stiff penalty, but not without a certain logic. ‘The law,’ he said, ‘prescribes for you my eyes alone to which you may prove your beauty. For these eyes you should provide the ornaments of beauty, for these be lovely: entrust yourself to their more certain knowledge. If you, with needless provocation, invite the look of anyone else, you must be suspected of wrongdoing.’

    Quintus Antistius Vetus felt no differently when he divorced his wife because he had seen her in public having a private conversation with a common freedwoman. For, moved not by an actual crime but, so to speak, by the birth and nourishment of one, he punished her before the crime could be committed, so that he might prevent the deed’s being done at all, rather than punish it afterwards.

    To these we should add the case of Publius Sempronius Sophus [10] who disgraced his wife with divorce merely because she dared attend the games without his knowledge. And so, long ago, when the misdeeds of women were thus forestalled, their minds stayed far from wrongdoing.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    good point (though my understanding is that full execution of these rights were rare). these prerogatives were finally ameliorated by justinian's code form what i know, though that codification also had an affect of curtailing some de faco rights of women by explicitly demarcating...
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  21. @Bill M
    From what I understand, early Rome was much more patriarchal than the later republican and imperial period. In early Rome, the patria potestas (power) of the pater familias included extreme rights and privileges over the women and children in the family, but things were liberalized in the republican and imperial period.

    Here are some excerpts from the Twelve Tables of early Rome on women:

    http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/wlgr/wlgr-romanlegal108.shtml

    These are some excerpts on husbands in early Rome:

    http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/wlgr/wlgr-romanlegal109.shtml

    Egnatius Metellus [8] ... took a cudgel and beat his wife to death because she had drunk some wine. Not only did no one charge him with a crime, but no one even blamed him. Everyone considered this an excellent example of one who had justly paid the penalty for violating the laws of sobriety. Indeed, any woman who immoderately seeks the use of wine closes the door on all virtues and opens it to vices.

    There was also the harsh marital severity of Gaius Sulpicius Gallus. [9] He divorced his wife because he had caught her outdoors with her head uncovered: a stiff penalty, but not without a certain logic. 'The law,' he said, 'prescribes for you my eyes alone to which you may prove your beauty. For these eyes you should provide the ornaments of beauty, for these be lovely: entrust yourself to their more certain knowledge. If you, with needless provocation, invite the look of anyone else, you must be suspected of wrongdoing.'

    Quintus Antistius Vetus felt no differently when he divorced his wife because he had seen her in public having a private conversation with a common freedwoman. For, moved not by an actual crime but, so to speak, by the birth and nourishment of one, he punished her before the crime could be committed, so that he might prevent the deed's being done at all, rather than punish it afterwards.

    To these we should add the case of Publius Sempronius Sophus [10] who disgraced his wife with divorce merely because she dared attend the games without his knowledge. And so, long ago, when the misdeeds of women were thus forestalled, their minds stayed far from wrongdoing.
     

    good point (though my understanding is that full execution of these rights were rare). these prerogatives were finally ameliorated by justinian’s code form what i know, though that codification also had an affect of curtailing some de faco rights of women by explicitly demarcating…

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  22. @Anonymous Nephew
    "Corded War" - shouldn't that be "Corded Ware" ?

    @BillP - "I visited the pre-Celtic hill-forts in Britain"

    Which are these? I assumed most if not all British hill-forts were Celtic, even if previous peoples had inhabited the sites.

    Which are these? I assumed most if not all British hill-forts were Celtic, even if previous peoples had inhabited the sites.

    The ones dating to the Bronze Age in general, and probably a number from the early Iron Age. Celtic speakers arrived in Britain some time around 2,500 years ago according to historical linguists. Couldn’t have been earlier than 800 BC in any event, because there was no distinct Celtic language branch before then.

    Because there is no evidence of pre-Celtic Indo Europeans in the British Isles, the hill forts that predate Celts must have been built by non-Indo European people. In many cases it seems Celts took them over. Some of the evidence of earlier languages in Britain is supposedly preserved in the names of hill forts, such as the ubiquitous “dun,” which is taken to mean “fortress” in the old language.

    Here’s an example of a pre-Celtic fort in Ireland (construction began in 1,100 BC). Pretty impressive.

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    • Replies: @Matt_

    Because there is no evidence of pre-Celtic Indo Europeans in the British Isles, the hill forts that predate Celts must have been built by non-Indo European people. In many cases it seems Celts took them over.
     
    You have Bell Beaker Culture in Britain and Ireland from around the 2500-1700BC. The samples we have for them from Germany suggest that the Bell Beaker Culture groups ancestry can be modeled as about half Yamnaya, half pre-Middle Neolithic farmer. Yamnaya are putatively Indo European. We don't know what language the Bell Beakers spoke of course, probably not Celtic.
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  23. @Razib Khan
    we're in the kali yuga, aren't we? ;-)

    LOL I had to look that up. We’ve been living in sin since the time of Noah, or so it seems.

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  24. @Bill P

    But Gimbutas probably went very wrong is the idea that Old Europeans were a peaceful and matriarchal society.
     
    Totally agree. I visited the pre-Celtic hill-forts in Britain - replete with murder holes, ramparts and overlapping fields of fire - and wondered how on earth anyone could imagine the people who built them as matriarchal pacifists.

    First, though there are matrilineal societies, and matrifocal societies, to my knowledge there are no matriachal societies which are analogs to the patriarchies you might find in the modern Arab world or ancient Athens (and frankly, most agricultural and post-agricultural societies). Certainly there were societies where powerful women were shaping the course of events. This influence may even be institutionalized (I’m thinking of the Iroquois as an instance of a case).
     
    Actually, I don't think it's entirely fair to compare Athens with Semitic cultures in that regard. For one thing, Indo-Europeans, including Greeks, always had a class of priestesses or female seers/oracles. I don't think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs. Women were particularly valued for their counsel in war.

    As the saga goes:

    "og eru köld kvenna ráð"

    There is no more peace in a woman's heart than a man's. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if women were at least as responsible as men for Indo-European war parties.

    Oh man, you are forgetting the Bible.

    What was the witch in Endor if not a seer? Probably a seer practicing a form of Hebrew religion that latter Jerusalem cult proponents viewed with distrust.

    And one of the oldest stories in the Bible, if Biblical criticism scholars are correct, is the Song of Deborah.

    That said, popular goddesses and individual empowered women can exist in societies where women are generally viewed as subordinate.

    Hebrews and other Levantine Semitic speaking groups were part of a very old West Asian culture area, the population of which contributed substantially to the makeup of the ancient Greeks. We focus so much on the Greeks as Europeans (as did they themselves) we forget that they were just as equally Mediterranean. In terms of their dna, farming practices and eating habits, they had as much or more in common with ancient peoples in the Levant, Anatolia and Transcaucasus than they did with Indo-European speaking peoples in Central, Western or Northern Europe.

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    • Replies: @dearieme
    "Oh man, you are forgetting the Bible." That would be wise if it's history that one is interested in. It's not even clear when the OT was invented. During or after the Babylonian Captivity seems likely.
    , @annamaria
    Excellent comment!
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  25. > But even today the princes of the House of Windsor continue to serve in military professions, [...]

    Definitely not just the Windsors:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederik,_Crown_Prince_of_Denmark#Military_service

    “Royal Danish Navy Frømandskorpset 1995 (equivalent to the Royal Navy Special Boat Service, or US Navy SEALs).”

    “Rear Admiral (Navy), Major General (Air Force, Army) 2015.”

    Those are real ranks, btw.

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  26. @anowow
    Oh man, you are forgetting the Bible.

    What was the witch in Endor if not a seer? Probably a seer practicing a form of Hebrew religion that latter Jerusalem cult proponents viewed with distrust.


    And one of the oldest stories in the Bible, if Biblical criticism scholars are correct, is the Song of Deborah.


    That said, popular goddesses and individual empowered women can exist in societies where women are generally viewed as subordinate.

    Hebrews and other Levantine Semitic speaking groups were part of a very old West Asian culture area, the population of which contributed substantially to the makeup of the ancient Greeks. We focus so much on the Greeks as Europeans (as did they themselves) we forget that they were just as equally Mediterranean. In terms of their dna, farming practices and eating habits, they had as much or more in common with ancient peoples in the Levant, Anatolia and Transcaucasus than they did with Indo-European speaking peoples in Central, Western or Northern Europe.

    “Oh man, you are forgetting the Bible.” That would be wise if it’s history that one is interested in. It’s not even clear when the OT was invented. During or after the Babylonian Captivity seems likely.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    obviously a wide variance. some of the fragments are very old and allude to commonly understood figures and legends which are now obscure. e.g., "8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord" likely rather old and is a reference to folktales that are lost to us.
    , @anowow
    History or myth, the point stands. The idea of having female seers or oracles did have currency amongst Hebrews. Should we ignore the Bible when trying to discuss ancient mores in the Levant?

    You skipped over my references to the OT's issues concerning historicity: e.g. "Jerusalem cult," "biblical criticism." The Song of Deborah might actually date from early times, this is an interpretation from scholars, not literalists.

    Even though the OT was probably assembled many centuries after it's purported stories took place and involved a lot of bias and external input, it is still a product of the antique Near East, albeit perhaps late antiquity.

    Indo-Europeanists often have to rely on myth or legend to theorize about the attitudes and world-view of preliterate Indo-European speaking peoples.

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  27. An anthropological note: The patrilineal/matrilineal divide is correlated with different modes of warfare, more than with war vs. peace. The cross-cultural literature shows that in stateless societies, patrilocality, patrilineality, and polygyny are all correlated with one another, and with internal warfare. Internal warfare is where your village keeps feuding off-and-on with neighboring villages in the same ethic/linguistic group. They kill some of your guys, you kill some of theirs in revenge, eventually you make peace for a while (maybe exchanging women to show you mean it), until hostilities break out again. Matrilocal societies usually don’t have much internal warfare. This makes sense when you think about it. In a matrilocal society, the guys a man lives with – his wife’s kinfolk’s husbands – aren’t any more related to him than the guys in the next village. In patrilocal/patrilineal/polygynous societies by contrast you get strong coresident Fraternal Interest Groups (FIGs) that will avenge the death of one of their members.

    But this doesn’t mean matrilocal/matrilineal societies are necessarily peaceful when it comes to external war, against tribes with different languages/ethnic affiliations. Some of these societies have been extremely aggressive and expansionist. The Iroquois, for example, were scary neighbors. I’ve reviewed some of this literature, and related it to Turchin’s work on meta-ethnic frontiers (ref below). I don’t know if this applies to the LBK massacre. People have argued since long before Gimbutas that pre-Indo-Europeans in Europe were matrilineal, but the evidence is necessarily pretty indirect.

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-011-9108-6

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  28. @dearieme
    "Oh man, you are forgetting the Bible." That would be wise if it's history that one is interested in. It's not even clear when the OT was invented. During or after the Babylonian Captivity seems likely.

    obviously a wide variance. some of the fragments are very old and allude to commonly understood figures and legends which are now obscure. e.g., “8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord” likely rather old and is a reference to folktales that are lost to us.

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  29. In the LOTR it was the incipient Fourth Age that was alluded to as “The Age of Men.”

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    NERD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ok, i'll fix that.
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  30. @Jacobite
    In the LOTR it was the incipient Fourth Age that was alluded to as "The Age of Men."

    NERD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ok, i’ll fix that.

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  31. “Gimbutas probably went very wrong is the idea that Old Europeans were a peaceful and matriarchal society.”

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-homo-sapiens-became-the-ultimate-invasive-species/

    This suggests hunter gatherers have nothing to fight over, but experiments in south Africa suggest coastal shellfish exploitation can mean 4000 plus calories for an individual hour’s work. The shellfish grounds were first thing worth fighting over, and these valuable resources triggered territoriality in early human groups. Farmers had something to fight about: land. Hunter gatherers fighting was prolly about marine resources, which have been hypothesised to foster cooperation. Mesolithic Europeans were concentrated along the coast.

    The old Yamnaya (with a possible Euro-Mesolithic influence) seem to have been strongly patriarchal and mainly honoured warriors and treated women like cattle. They had a rolling campaign of exterminating men and stealing women . I suppose the captive European women did alter the ethos over time. Anyway, history shows Gimbutas’s hunches are worth listening to.

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  32. @dearieme
    "Oh man, you are forgetting the Bible." That would be wise if it's history that one is interested in. It's not even clear when the OT was invented. During or after the Babylonian Captivity seems likely.

    History or myth, the point stands. The idea of having female seers or oracles did have currency amongst Hebrews. Should we ignore the Bible when trying to discuss ancient mores in the Levant?

    You skipped over my references to the OT’s issues concerning historicity: e.g. “Jerusalem cult,” “biblical criticism.” The Song of Deborah might actually date from early times, this is an interpretation from scholars, not literalists.

    Even though the OT was probably assembled many centuries after it’s purported stories took place and involved a lot of bias and external input, it is still a product of the antique Near East, albeit perhaps late antiquity.

    Indo-Europeanists often have to rely on myth or legend to theorize about the attitudes and world-view of preliterate Indo-European speaking peoples.

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  33. Gimbutas probably went very wrong is the idea that Old Europeans were a peaceful and matriarchal society.

    Old Europe and Harappan society have both been stereotyped as peaceful societies. This and a couple of other LBK discoveries, and some recent Harappan archaeological discoveries have qualified this view.

    But, it is critical to recognize that in both cases the archaeological indications of violent, both in terms of direct evidence from human remains, and indirect evidence in the form of fortifications, is almost entirely found in the very waning days of these civilizations as they are on the verge of collapse.

    In the case of Old Europe, this seems to have been associated with non-sustainable agriculture. So far as I know, without exception, the first farmers of Western Eurasia all experienced a bubble of population growth made possible by agriculture, followed by a collapse of that bubble, followed eventually by a second wave of farmers whose successors continue into the modern era.

    In the case of the Harappans, it seems that they were done in by the combination of the 4.2 ky climate event that dried up the land, and the possibly related realignment of a major river in their territory that turned the heart of their civilization into a desert almost overnight.

    Prior to these extreme, starvation inducing stressors, both of these probably were peaceful societies, whether or not they were matriarchial, for many, many centuries. But, eventually the collapse of their societies brought out post-apocalyptic violence.

    There are also New World parallels of societies that had been peaceful farmers for long periods of time in the American Southwest, retreating to fortified redoubts and engaging in violence that is not just necessary but cruel – with some of those events convincingly interpreted as “witch burnings” of either an individual or their entire extended family (possibly a high status family with a different ethnicity from the ruled population).

    The cruelty is not without a purpose. In the “ordinary” kind of war we see in most of the world, most of the time, the purpose of a war is to gain legitimate control of the existing population in an area from somebody else, either in a civil war, or in an international war of conquest.

    But, in the kind of war waged by Joshua in the Book of Numbers, by the Serbians in Bosnia, by ISIS against people other than Sunni Arabs in their territory, by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, by armed militias in Darfur, by European settlers against Native Americans and against Aboriginal Australians respectively, the point of war is not to conquer or rule the existing population. Instead, the point of the war is to drive out the existing population so that the attackers can claim the land for themselves, in a scenario in which the attackers are indifferent to extermination and exile of the existing populations as outcomes. In those scenarios, there more the word spreads about the maximal cruelty of the attackers, the more motivated those who don’t think that they can beat the attackers militarily are to flee and thereby accomplish the goal of the attackers which is to vacate the land so that the attackers can have it.

    In the case of the late LBK people, the pressure to take land was probably a consequence of land that was once fertile being farmed unsustainably and becoming fallow, shrinking the supply of arable land and creating a powerful incentive for people whose land was failing to engage in war with a purpose to take other people’s more fertile remaining land.

    There are some similarities to the motives in modern gang warfare as well. In Denver, where I live, a lot of territory that used to be controlled by street gangs has been gentrified with reasonably high density middle class apartment/condo complexes and new more affluent populations moving in, and the areas in North Denver that used to be pretty much exclusively low income African-American have seen an influx, at a rate of a block or two every year at the western margins of the territory of low income Hispanic populations (it also doesn’t help that middle class blacks have been the first to leave these neighborhoods for new suburban-style developments leaving the remaining African-Americans even more intensely poor making it seem to residents of those neighborhoods as if the lot of African-Americans in Denver has suddenly gotten much worse, even though it has actually improved on average but resulted in a much more geographically dispersed population with half the African-Americans in the state living within a couple of miles of an intersection in North Denver as recently as 1990 and then dramatically dispersing over the next twenty years and especially the last decade or so).

    This process had come to a halt for several years due to the collapse of the real estate market and construction industries in the financial crisis, but in the last few years has restarted. The result, in 2015, has been a huge surge in gang related shootings and killings in that part of Denver reaching decade or more old record highs. As the same number of gangs are squeezed into less turf in a disruptive and sudden manner, the battle to control what remains has ratcheted up.

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  34. In evolutionary genetics R. A. Fisher introduced the idea that when selection pressures come to bear upon a population, large effect mutations may increase rapidly in frequency to increase population mean fitness. But, these mutations are not without cost, one reason that they were likely at low frequency in the first place…

    But as per Fisher’s model, mutants with deleterious consequences invite their own response. They are tamed and civilized by a scaffold of modifiers…

    If I understand you properly; you are proposing a much improved version of Oakley’s “Evil Genes” theory in the era of early agricultural societies as a result of an emergent warrior caste; after which a violent collapse occurs in which the hypothetical large effect mutations are largely purged; with masking and alternative mutations gradually reducing the negative effects of the previous large effect mutations.

    It is a very interesting idea, but what large effect mutations did you have in mind?

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    i wasn't suggesting that, though it is possible that the genetic character of the population changed. though the last piece i linked to indicates that that needn't occur to engage in war. rather, the "large effect mutation" i'm talking about are systems of control and ideologies to make a dense stratified society work. for example, the idea that the ruler was actually a god is one such idea.

    i'm proposing that the religions of the axial era are 'modifier' mutations. they took the amoral aspect of the older religions, and grafted our core egalitarian ethos onto them. so man is, gods became.
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  35. @Razib Khan
    ancient Rome was similarly patriarchal and husbands were allowed to beat and even kill their wives.

    no, it wasn't similarly. that was the point of the point. i wish people would read it ancient roman matrons dined with men and had some awareness of politics and even involvement. this was surprising to greeks.

    I don’t think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs.

    yeah, it does. there was even possible polyandry among pre-islamic arabs (not uncommon for a particular type of pastoralist). google hind utbah. or i'm assuming u know about zenobia? i'm sure you know plenty about the greeks but you probably don't know enough semites to make a good point of comparison. artemis is often argued to be semitic btw.

    i’m sure you know plenty about the greeks but you probably don’t know enough semites to make a good point of comparison. artemis is often argued to be semitic btw.

    Yeah, it’s true — I don’t know much about prehistoric Semites. Not sure about Artemis being Semitic, though, because as far as I understand she’s got a Nordic analog with Skadi.

    In general, I’m thinking of the seithr, which is a pretty recent thing. Recent enough to still be a part of folk tradition in historic times. So, actually, part of the stories we grew up with as kids. Even in colonial America there were still remnants of these institutions, or the memory of them. The old Dutch women in Ichabod Crane stories for example.

    Does that set us apart from Semites? Perhaps not, but maybe it’s a more recent historical memory.

    As an aside, it gives me some ambivalent feelings about the decline of Christianity in the US. On the one hand, I’m worried about the accompanying shattering of communal norms, but on the other maybe we’ll be free to be ourselves again. But if you think about it, being ourselves might not be such a bowl of cherries if you take the past into account.

    Either way, it’s a pleasure to have the historical perspective you offer here. If I could add anything, perhaps in the broader picture sometimes we lose sight of the ancient things hidden in our little communities and families. There’s still witchcraft, magic and the warp and weft of fate pulling us this way and that, and sometimes it seems that all the world is a winter night with only the hearth to illuminate the darkness. Maybe that’s how the Greeks felt as they kept the flame alive at Delphi.

    In my mind, at least, it’s a metaphor for the embers of the faith in life itself that characterizes womankind. But you’re right: only a fool would believe it could be absent in a surviving people.

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  36. @Hokie

    In evolutionary genetics R. A. Fisher introduced the idea that when selection pressures come to bear upon a population, large effect mutations may increase rapidly in frequency to increase population mean fitness. But, these mutations are not without cost, one reason that they were likely at low frequency in the first place...
     

    But as per Fisher’s model, mutants with deleterious consequences invite their own response. They are tamed and civilized by a scaffold of modifiers...
     
    If I understand you properly; you are proposing a much improved version of Oakley's "Evil Genes" theory in the era of early agricultural societies as a result of an emergent warrior caste; after which a violent collapse occurs in which the hypothetical large effect mutations are largely purged; with masking and alternative mutations gradually reducing the negative effects of the previous large effect mutations.

    It is a very interesting idea, but what large effect mutations did you have in mind?

    i wasn’t suggesting that, though it is possible that the genetic character of the population changed. though the last piece i linked to indicates that that needn’t occur to engage in war. rather, the “large effect mutation” i’m talking about are systems of control and ideologies to make a dense stratified society work. for example, the idea that the ruler was actually a god is one such idea.

    i’m proposing that the religions of the axial era are ‘modifier’ mutations. they took the amoral aspect of the older religions, and grafted our core egalitarian ethos onto them. so man is, gods became.

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  37. @jtgw
    When you say that villages were easy targets for groups of men, what about the men of the village themselves? What makes them incapable of defending their society against marauders? Or are you describing the kind of societies found in, say, West Africa, where village men live off the labor of the village women? My understanding was that European agriculture was always different in that men had to be involved in labor, since only they had the upper-body strength necessary for plowing the tough northern soil, whereas in the tropics only hoes were needed for tilling soil, which women could do alone.

    When you say that villages were easy targets for groups of men, what about the men of the village themselves? What makes them incapable of defending their society against marauders?

    Jared Diamond made much of the case for “farmer power” in “Guns, Germs, and Steel.” While it is true that sedentary civilizations did/do confer many advantages to their defenders (not the least of which are money and manpower, setting aside the whole disease resistance element), there are significant comparative military disadvantages vis-à-vis pastoral/semi-nomadic “marauders.”

    1. Labor specialization. Sedentary societies tend to have both socio-economic classes and professional specializations (often manifesting as castes). Ideally, the small armed leadership at the top provided cohesion, stability, and dispute arbitration. In reality, they were often parasitic and extracted rents while brutalizing their inferiors. Such men therefore had an incentive to keep the productive classes docile and unarmed/unskilled in the ways of war. This tended to lower dramatically the numbers of armed and skilled warriors in such a society as a percentage.

    2. Internal mobilization rates. This is related to item 1. Farming and war-making are usually mutually exclusive activities. So full-time farmers make poor warriors or none at all. The Spartan Peers were feared for their courage, cunning, and war-making skills precisely because they were full-time, professional warriors trained since childhood. But this extremely tough life apparently limited their fertility, and Sparta always suffered from an armed manpower shortage, which arguably did them in at the end.

    In contrast, the pastoral/semi-nomadic lifestyle is highly compatible with war-making. Hunting, herding, and butchering animals is excellent training for warfare (which also generally breeds familiarity with horsemanship that enormously enhance both tactical and strategic mobility). Famously, Genghis Khan’s Mongols held huge hunts that simulated warfare – creating what a modern military strategy would call giant pincer movements that hemmed in animals and then led to their slaughter. Despite their very low population density, pastoralists therefore had not only a greatly increased war-making skill advantages, but had incredibly high internal mobilization rates, that is, the entire able-bodied male population comprised the warrior-hood (and sometimes even the females were no slouches in horsemanship and archery and could fight when things got desperate).

    3. Mobility and initiative. Pastoralists/semi-nomadic marauders had high mobility and generally could pick the time and place for the battle. They could often avoid combat and flee safely if outnumbered greatly, only to return later to wreak havoc when the timing suited them. When attacking villages and towns, they could launch a surprise attack and create enormous confusion and dislocation amongst the sedentary populations, which is why settled populations generally built walls to reduce the risk of sudden raids.

    Unwalled towns with hundreds and even thousands of people can be overrun by a few men if the latter had the advantage of surprise (and surprise is often of an enormous importance in combat – usually battles are fought by more-or-less equally matched armies, but in the very rare occasions when the weak defeat the strong, the key element is almost always surprise; a great example of this is the Battle of Okehazama when Oda Nobunaga, with only 1,500 men, launched a surprise attack on Imagawa Yoshimoto’s army of 25,000 men in a rainstorm and overwhelmed it).

    And on a slightly different note, I’d like to mention that in warfare “thuggish” behavior was always legitimate in one particular aspect: siege warfare.

    If an open battle were fought “in the field,” typically some consideration was given for the ritualistic aspect of warfare even during “barbaric” times (e.g. honorable displays of courage by champions, taking of prisoners, retrieval of the dead, etc.). Even Mongols displayed “chivalric” behaviors toward those defeated in open combat and respected the courage of their adversaries (in fact, there is some evidence that the various Central Asian nomads had a fairly well-understood and -shared code of honor in battle contrary to their reputation as mindless, bloodthirsty killers).

    However, until quite recently in human history, the taking of walled towns and cities provided for no such quarter. If a town resisted and was taken by storm, all inside, lives and property, were forfeit to the victors. So siege warfare tended to be the most barbaric and brutal, across most, probably all, cultural spectrum, European or otherwise. Field battles were sometimes honorable contests of arms by men and men only. In siege battles, women and children desperately threw bricks and stones at the besiegers (allegedly that is how Pyrrhus died, hit by a tile thrown by some old woman of Argos). Once the latter broke in, the male defenders often slew their own women and children, because what awaited them was great dishonor and brutality – torture, rape, and mass slaughter even of babies, in addition to massive looting.

    To the victors go the spoils. Or as the Judges 5:30 says, “for every man a damsel or two.” This held true at least as late as World War II.

    Now (if you are in the U.S. armed forces in any case), even minimal violence against civilians or taking of trinkets will land you in military prison.

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  38. @Bill P

    Which are these? I assumed most if not all British hill-forts were Celtic, even if previous peoples had inhabited the sites.
     
    The ones dating to the Bronze Age in general, and probably a number from the early Iron Age. Celtic speakers arrived in Britain some time around 2,500 years ago according to historical linguists. Couldn't have been earlier than 800 BC in any event, because there was no distinct Celtic language branch before then.

    Because there is no evidence of pre-Celtic Indo Europeans in the British Isles, the hill forts that predate Celts must have been built by non-Indo European people. In many cases it seems Celts took them over. Some of the evidence of earlier languages in Britain is supposedly preserved in the names of hill forts, such as the ubiquitous "dun," which is taken to mean "fortress" in the old language.

    Here's an example of a pre-Celtic fort in Ireland (construction began in 1,100 BC). Pretty impressive.

    Because there is no evidence of pre-Celtic Indo Europeans in the British Isles, the hill forts that predate Celts must have been built by non-Indo European people. In many cases it seems Celts took them over.

    You have Bell Beaker Culture in Britain and Ireland from around the 2500-1700BC. The samples we have for them from Germany suggest that the Bell Beaker Culture groups ancestry can be modeled as about half Yamnaya, half pre-Middle Neolithic farmer. Yamnaya are putatively Indo European. We don’t know what language the Bell Beakers spoke of course, probably not Celtic.

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  39. @iffen
    Any estimate for the Fst between core Yamnaya and the typical citizen of Compton @ 1995?

    Any estimate for the Fst between core Yamnaya and the typical citizen of Compton @ 1995?

    If you’re asking what I think, the Yamnaya samples from the Haak et al 2015 paper (http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2015/02/10/013433.full-text.pdf+html – “Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe”) have a FST of 0.158 from West African Yoruba, according to that paper.

    A sample of comparable stats for other ancient and modern populations from the same table in ascending order are French-Yoruba 0.147, Russian-Yoruba 0.148, Bell Beaker-Yoruba 0.151, Sardinian-Yoruba 0.153, Basque-Yoruba 0.155, Lithuanian-Yoruba 0.155, Hungary Early Neolithic-Yoruba 0.156, Linearbandkeramik-Yoruba 0.163, Spain Early Neolithic-Yoruba 0.169, Han-Yoruba 0.177, EHG-Yoruba 0.179, WHG-Yoruba 0.195, Onge-Yoruba 0.222, Karitiana-Yoruba 0.270.

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    I was expressing my skepticism that the explanation for “Compton 1985” is to be found solely in the genetic inheritance of the people there, as some people (not Razib) would propose. In Razib’s follow-up on his Compton reference he states that it wouldn’t be that hard for the Old Europeans to imagine the violence in 1985 Compton. I don’t believe it is that difficult for the New Europeans either, given, as Razib says, the context.

    Keep up the excellent and informative posts!
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  40. Re: mobile pastoralism and conflict, I wonder whether you often see communities adopting pastoralism as a response to avoid conflict.

    One model for a lack of conflict in the Mesolithic, like Razib states is based on mobility of populations, that they are able to migrate away and avoid local conflicts. I wonder if you also might see this with the adoption of more mobile pastoralism over farming, whether this happened in a response to avoid conflict.

    There was a paper by “Did Neolithic farming fail? The case for a Bronze Age agricultural revolution in the British Isles” in 2012, where there is a shift towards pastoralism in the BI prior to 3000BC, so prior to Bell Beaker “Indo European” influence in Britain. Was this was part of a broader shift to pastoral life (to both avoid conflict and gain strategic advantage in conflict) in North-Central Europe before Indo-European population movements, and perhaps this may help explain some discontinuity in population at the same sites in Europe?

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  41. @Matt_

    Any estimate for the Fst between core Yamnaya and the typical citizen of Compton @ 1995?
     
    If you're asking what I think, the Yamnaya samples from the Haak et al 2015 paper (http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2015/02/10/013433.full-text.pdf+html - "Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe") have a FST of 0.158 from West African Yoruba, according to that paper.

    A sample of comparable stats for other ancient and modern populations from the same table in ascending order are French-Yoruba 0.147, Russian-Yoruba 0.148, Bell Beaker-Yoruba 0.151, Sardinian-Yoruba 0.153, Basque-Yoruba 0.155, Lithuanian-Yoruba 0.155, Hungary Early Neolithic-Yoruba 0.156, Linearbandkeramik-Yoruba 0.163, Spain Early Neolithic-Yoruba 0.169, Han-Yoruba 0.177, EHG-Yoruba 0.179, WHG-Yoruba 0.195, Onge-Yoruba 0.222, Karitiana-Yoruba 0.270.

    I was expressing my skepticism that the explanation for “Compton 1985” is to be found solely in the genetic inheritance of the people there, as some people (not Razib) would propose. In Razib’s follow-up on his Compton reference he states that it wouldn’t be that hard for the Old Europeans to imagine the violence in 1985 Compton. I don’t believe it is that difficult for the New Europeans either, given, as Razib says, the context.

    Keep up the excellent and informative posts!

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  42. Violence solves nothing.

    Unless you count solutions to the question “Who will the people of the future be descended from?”

    But apart from that, nothing.

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  43. The Compton crime rate today is lower than what it was back in the N.W.A days, but their crime rate is still way too high if going by European standards of what is considered safe.

    If Compton in 2015 were it’s own country they would still have a significantly higher per capita murder rate than Europe’s 2 most violent countries Lithuania and Russia.

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  44. Cites Keeley:

    Constant Battles: Why We Fight by Steven A. LeBlanc and Katherine E. Register

    http://www.amazon.com/Constant-Battles-Why-We-Fight/dp/0312310900/

    LeBlanc is a pre-columbian Americas archeologist.

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    Thanks. This is going to the top of my reading list.
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  45. @Walter Sobchak
    Cites Keeley:

    Constant Battles: Why We Fight by Steven A. LeBlanc and Katherine E. Register
    http://www.amazon.com/Constant-Battles-Why-We-Fight/dp/0312310900/

    LeBlanc is a pre-columbian Americas archeologist.

    Thanks. This is going to the top of my reading list.

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  46. Just wanted to say that I think this is one of your best posts to date Razib.

    I think the Iroquois reference is interesting too since the Iroquoian peoples were in a very real way the advancing agriculturalist front.

    One example you might be interested in looking at is the Eskimo-Aleutians. Along the more temperate coast of Alaska where resources are plentiful, they were noted as having some of the highest levels of intergroup violence in the world. In more extreme locales like the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, intergroup violence was virtually non-existent. There simply wasn’t anything valuable enough worth the cost of fighting over, so instead the Inuit culture developed extensive conflict resolution mechanisms. The change in culture must have happened relatively quickly given that the Inuit expansion is only ~1,000 years old, but not immediately, as Inuit legends claim their interactions with the preceding Dorset culture were far from peaceful.

    On a side note I find it incredibly frustrating how European activists have managed to completely devastate the Inuit way of life by effectively banning seal products. In theory the Europeans say they’ve exempted the Inuit from their ban, but in practice they haven’t. What the hell else are you supposed to do to survive that far north?

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  47. The history of mankind is one of bloodshed. But that is the heart of man.

    Isaiah 59:7: Their feet run to evil,
    and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
    their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
    desolation and destruction are in their highways.

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  48. Wasn’t Constantine that made Christianity the official and only religion in the Roman Empire, it was Theodosios who did this some 60 years after Constantine.

    There isn’t Monotheism in the Torah, its Yahweh and his tribe fighting and killing the other Gods and their peoples, Elohim is plural for Gods.

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  49. That Azar Gat article had me thinking about Neanderthal admixture.

    No Neanderthal mtDNA nor any Neanderthal Y-DNA has been found among men. The same goes for Denisovan DNA. I can understand that no Y-DNA has been found. Neanderthal men raiding AMH parties would result in the women being brought to them. But mtDNA is a different story. Raid beget counter raids, in which women would have been taken so it is really odd that no Neanderthal mtDNA is found among living humans. One can only assume that AMH parties *selected* the women they took from archaic parties to be the most “modern” looking.

    I hope they take a look at other samples from Peștera cu Oase.

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  50. Cemetery 117 at Jebel Sahaba. 45% of those interred were victims of violence, approximately 13-14,000 years ago.

    http://blog.britishmuseum.org/tag/jebel-sahaba/

    __________

    The “matter of Peor” was Israelites visiting the temples of the Midianites. Like many temples of the time, they were also houses of prostitution. The resulting “plague” then, was likely some type of STD. All in all, a rather thin provocation for genocide.

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  51. @anowow
    Oh man, you are forgetting the Bible.

    What was the witch in Endor if not a seer? Probably a seer practicing a form of Hebrew religion that latter Jerusalem cult proponents viewed with distrust.


    And one of the oldest stories in the Bible, if Biblical criticism scholars are correct, is the Song of Deborah.


    That said, popular goddesses and individual empowered women can exist in societies where women are generally viewed as subordinate.

    Hebrews and other Levantine Semitic speaking groups were part of a very old West Asian culture area, the population of which contributed substantially to the makeup of the ancient Greeks. We focus so much on the Greeks as Europeans (as did they themselves) we forget that they were just as equally Mediterranean. In terms of their dna, farming practices and eating habits, they had as much or more in common with ancient peoples in the Levant, Anatolia and Transcaucasus than they did with Indo-European speaking peoples in Central, Western or Northern Europe.

    Excellent comment!

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  52. Razib: Frank Forman has just posted a link to and copy of a New Scientist article which refers to the victims of the massacre having their shin bones smashed but it is explained as neither cruel nor vindictive, simply practical. The article suggests that there was a surprise raid at dawn and the quick smashing of the shins was to stop the victims getting away before they could be finished off.

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  53. @Bill P

    But Gimbutas probably went very wrong is the idea that Old Europeans were a peaceful and matriarchal society.
     
    Totally agree. I visited the pre-Celtic hill-forts in Britain - replete with murder holes, ramparts and overlapping fields of fire - and wondered how on earth anyone could imagine the people who built them as matriarchal pacifists.

    First, though there are matrilineal societies, and matrifocal societies, to my knowledge there are no matriachal societies which are analogs to the patriarchies you might find in the modern Arab world or ancient Athens (and frankly, most agricultural and post-agricultural societies). Certainly there were societies where powerful women were shaping the course of events. This influence may even be institutionalized (I’m thinking of the Iroquois as an instance of a case).
     
    Actually, I don't think it's entirely fair to compare Athens with Semitic cultures in that regard. For one thing, Indo-Europeans, including Greeks, always had a class of priestesses or female seers/oracles. I don't think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs. Women were particularly valued for their counsel in war.

    As the saga goes:

    "og eru köld kvenna ráð"

    There is no more peace in a woman's heart than a man's. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if women were at least as responsible as men for Indo-European war parties.

    Actually, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to compare Athens with Semitic cultures in that regard. For one thing, Indo-Europeans, including Greeks, always had a class of priestesses or female seers/oracles. I don’t think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs. Women were particularly valued for their counsel in war.

    I’m not entirely sure what do you mean by “Semitic culture”[*], but if you talking about people speaking Semitic languages in the Levant and Mesopotamia, they did had an institute of Sacred/Temple Prostitution [1] – the females dedicated to Temple called “kedeshah” [2]

    Whatever the cultic significance of a kedeshah to a follower of the Canaanite religion, the Hebrew Bible makes it clear that cultic prostitution had no place in Judaism. Thus the Hebrew version of Deuteronomy 23:17-18 tells followers:

    None of the daughters of Israel shall be a kedeshah, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a kadesh.
    You shall not bring the hire of a prostitute (zonah) or the wages of a dog (kelev) into the house of the Lord your God to pay a vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

    Also almost every deity in Levant/Mesopotamia/Egypt had a direct analogue in Greek/Roman pantheon, i.e. Ishtar/Asherah and Aphrodite/Venus.

    In the early Israelite religion, there was male god and his female consort – ‘Asherah” [3].

    [*] while most of Canaanites spoke Semitic languages, Hebrew Bible don’t consider them to be descendants of Shem.

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution
    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution#In_the_Hebrew_Bible
    [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah#In_Israel_and_Judah

    Read More
    • Replies: @LevantineJew
    One interesting fact I just found.

    An Asherah pole is a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah, consort of El. [1]

     

    The sacred trees are still worshipped in Northern Israel, both by Muslim, Druze, Christians and lately even among Orthodox Jews [2].


    --

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah_pole

    [2] ON THE PRESENT-DAY VENERATION OF
    SACRED TREES IN THE HOLY LAND
    Amots Dafni
    http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol48/dafni.pdf

    , @Ballomar
    It's not only the Semites who had 'sacred prostitution'.

    Around the ancient Mediterranean, the port city of Corinth was famous for its temple to Aphrodite and the sacred prostitution which was carried on there. Even after the destruction of the temple, they'd use the marketplace for orgies.

    It is no coincidence that it is in the letters to the Corinthians, that St. Paul advises them to abstain from sex. Sex out of wedlock in Corinth could well be viewed as worshiping a false god and idolatry.
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  54. @LevantineJew
    Actually, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to compare Athens with Semitic cultures in that regard. For one thing, Indo-Europeans, including Greeks, always had a class of priestesses or female seers/oracles. I don’t think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs. Women were particularly valued for their counsel in war.

    I'm not entirely sure what do you mean by "Semitic culture"[*], but if you talking about people speaking Semitic languages in the Levant and Mesopotamia, they did had an institute of Sacred/Temple Prostitution [1] - the females dedicated to Temple called "kedeshah" [2]

    Whatever the cultic significance of a kedeshah to a follower of the Canaanite religion, the Hebrew Bible makes it clear that cultic prostitution had no place in Judaism. Thus the Hebrew version of Deuteronomy 23:17-18 tells followers:

    None of the daughters of Israel shall be a kedeshah, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a kadesh.
    You shall not bring the hire of a prostitute (zonah) or the wages of a dog (kelev) into the house of the Lord your God to pay a vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

     


     
    Also almost every deity in Levant/Mesopotamia/Egypt had a direct analogue in Greek/Roman pantheon, i.e. Ishtar/Asherah and Aphrodite/Venus.

    In the early Israelite religion, there was male god and his female consort - 'Asherah" [3].


    [*] while most of Canaanites spoke Semitic languages, Hebrew Bible don't consider them to be descendants of Shem.

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution
    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution#In_the_Hebrew_Bible
    [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah#In_Israel_and_Judah

    One interesting fact I just found.

    An Asherah pole is a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah, consort of El. [1]

    The sacred trees are still worshipped in Northern Israel, both by Muslim, Druze, Christians and lately even among Orthodox Jews [2].

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah_pole

    [2] ON THE PRESENT-DAY VENERATION OF
    SACRED TREES IN THE HOLY LAND
    Amots Dafni

    http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol48/dafni.pdf

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ballomar
    I thought the ancient Canaanites had three major gods: El, Asherah and Ba'al.
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  55. @Anonymous
    Women tended to be veiled and cloistered at home away from the public in Athens. They generally didn't leave their homes without their fathers or husbands accompanying them. Ancient Rome was similarly patriarchal and husbands were allowed to beat and even kill their wives. There are ancient writings that approvingly cite such cases.

    Ancient Semitic and pre-Islamic Arabian religion had priestesses and goddesses.

    There seems to have been a lot of variation in Greece. Athenian women were indeed most probably veiled unless they were prostitutes.

    Spartan women on the other hand had a reputation for being very beautiful, of walking around semi-naked and often hitting the gym. Note that Helen ‘of Troy’, was actually from Sparta and Paris was so overcome with her beauty he abducted her to Troy.

    This presents a very interesting split in Greek culture. Whether that split is between Ionians and Dorians or between an older Ionian Greek culture and the culture of more recent Dorian invaders is hard to say, but very interesting and worth exploring, imv.

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  56. @LevantineJew
    Actually, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to compare Athens with Semitic cultures in that regard. For one thing, Indo-Europeans, including Greeks, always had a class of priestesses or female seers/oracles. I don’t think that characterizes the Hebrews or Arabs. Women were particularly valued for their counsel in war.

    I'm not entirely sure what do you mean by "Semitic culture"[*], but if you talking about people speaking Semitic languages in the Levant and Mesopotamia, they did had an institute of Sacred/Temple Prostitution [1] - the females dedicated to Temple called "kedeshah" [2]

    Whatever the cultic significance of a kedeshah to a follower of the Canaanite religion, the Hebrew Bible makes it clear that cultic prostitution had no place in Judaism. Thus the Hebrew version of Deuteronomy 23:17-18 tells followers:

    None of the daughters of Israel shall be a kedeshah, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a kadesh.
    You shall not bring the hire of a prostitute (zonah) or the wages of a dog (kelev) into the house of the Lord your God to pay a vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

     


     
    Also almost every deity in Levant/Mesopotamia/Egypt had a direct analogue in Greek/Roman pantheon, i.e. Ishtar/Asherah and Aphrodite/Venus.

    In the early Israelite religion, there was male god and his female consort - 'Asherah" [3].


    [*] while most of Canaanites spoke Semitic languages, Hebrew Bible don't consider them to be descendants of Shem.

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution
    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution#In_the_Hebrew_Bible
    [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah#In_Israel_and_Judah

    It’s not only the Semites who had ‘sacred prostitution’.

    Around the ancient Mediterranean, the port city of Corinth was famous for its temple to Aphrodite and the sacred prostitution which was carried on there. Even after the destruction of the temple, they’d use the marketplace for orgies.

    It is no coincidence that it is in the letters to the Corinthians, that St. Paul advises them to abstain from sex. Sex out of wedlock in Corinth could well be viewed as worshiping a false god and idolatry.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  57. @LevantineJew
    One interesting fact I just found.

    An Asherah pole is a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah, consort of El. [1]

     

    The sacred trees are still worshipped in Northern Israel, both by Muslim, Druze, Christians and lately even among Orthodox Jews [2].


    --

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah_pole

    [2] ON THE PRESENT-DAY VENERATION OF
    SACRED TREES IN THE HOLY LAND
    Amots Dafni
    http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol48/dafni.pdf

    I thought the ancient Canaanites had three major gods: El, Asherah and Ba’al.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

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