Conflict and War, Archaeology of: Behavior and Social Organization


Archaeologists have a long-standing interest in the evolution of human conflict and war. They identify three modes of aggression and violence based on the archaeological record: self-redress homicides, feuds, and war. Self-redress homicides predominated early in human history and continued among egalitarian hunter-gatherers. Feuds are the typical means of tribal justice for nonegalitarian hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, and small-scale farming communities. Warfare employs organized deadly force by agricultural chiefdoms and various state societies that seek to alter the balance of power between autonomous political communities. The ways in which violent practices are constituted, result in part from the nature and scale of human social organization.

Publication Title

International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition