Chimpanzees and the Battle Over Human Nature

Chimp peers right at you. (Photo by Michael Nichols /National Geographic Creative)
A chimp peers out from the branches of a tree, making direct eye contact with the viewer. (Photo by Michael Nichols /National Geographic Creative)

Were humans born to war?

Or is warfare a recent, rare development in our history?

A study of observations of chimpanzees earlier this year brought the fundamental questions of warfare’s origins and prevalence to the fore. Ongoing studies of the remains of early human civilizations have a lot to add to the debate.

Two Sides

Scholars are divided into two schools of thought on the issue. Some (such as Choi and Bowles) argue that warfare goes back to at least the first appearance of fully modern humans 200,000 years ago. Others (such as Fry and Söderberg) suggest that warfare is a more modern, much less common phenomenon only arising under very specific conditions. Evidence in the ongoing debate consists of studies of contemporary hunter-gatherers, prehistoric cave art, and primatology.

As an archaeologist I am often knee-deep in the dirt, and I prefer searching for tangible evidence of what happened in the past.

Unfortunately the archaeological record is far from complete, and only a small percentage of ancient objects are preserved well enough to recover. Thus, archaeology is part CSI, —> Read More Here

1 2 3 674