Ice Age Murder Mystery

Deep in a Romanian cave laid buried a skull for over thirty thousand years….. this skull held testament to a brutal, vicious murder that occurred over 30 thousand years ago. Who this skull belonged to we don’t know, too much time has passed. We don’t even know the context he was buried in….. only that he was murdered, brutally by a left-handed foe. He lived in a pivotal moment in human history, he belonged to a people whom were the first modern humans to settle the European continent, the Aurignacian folk.

His people created works of art that remain unrivaled to this day: flutes, sculptures, paintings….. They were reindeer hunters, first and foremost, dark skinned with brown hair, they were not light skinned like their distant white descendants. It was a time of immense beauty, but also of horrifying weather unlike anything anyone alive in the modern day has seen (at least for now), glaciers covered huge expanses of the globe, and polar bears roamed off the coast of what is now Portugal.

This man’s skull holds testament to the first homicide recorded in the archaeological record. What truly happened on that fateful day over 30 thousand years ago we’ll never know for sure, hell, because his skull was unearthed in the 50’s modern archaeological techniques had yet to be invented, so we lack key context about the site his skull was unearthed from.

We only have his skull, and even the fractures on his skull are enough to tell us even things about his attacker. His attacker was left handed, and was face to face with their victim when they struck him down, with a sort of bat or club as the murder weapon.

I’d venture to say this was a personal dispute amongst people who knew each other intimately… Hunter-gatherer bands are small, comprised primarily of close relatives, everyone in the band is related to each other in some way…. Whatever happened on that fateful day, it was bad enough to cause his attacker to strike down a close friend or relative of his.

His skull is a testament to the inner cruelty of man, an attacker desperate enough to strike down a loved one or close friend, and given how the man was face to face with his attacker when he was struck down, it was evidently some form of confrontation. Unfortunately what truly happened on that day, what caused a person to go far enough and murder a close relation of theirs, will forever remain unknown.

References:

“State of the art forensic techniques reveal evidence of interpersonal violence circa 30,000 years ago” Kranioti et al (2019) Plos One (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0216718)

 

Cemetery 117

On the shores of ancient Lake Turkana we find a hidden trove of all too human horrors, a trove of broken bones and unburied bodies, a testament to the inner cruelty of man. 59 victims were found, murdered and mutilated, their bodies left unburied. Only the tide would tend to their funerary needs, forever preserving this senseless, and ancient, act of wanton cruelty.

Thirteen thousand years ago an entire community was massacred, their hands and feet bound together as their skulls were smashed in, their scalps sliced off, and their tongues ripped out. All ages were among the victims, from the elderly to children. Among the dead was a woman in late pregnancy.

These people were not farmers, as it had been long presumed the horrors of war only started with the advent of agriculture. No, these people lived before the dawn of farming, but the world they lived in was changing. The ice sheets were melting, causing global chaos as what had been the norm for tens of thousands of years came to a grinding halt.

Lake Turkana was a paradise in this time, lush, wet, and green, filled with all sorts of wildlife like elephants, hippos, and crocodiles as far as the eye could see. This primordial Garden of Eden would seem like the last place one would expect to find the grisly atrocities of war, but alas, appearances can be deceiving.

What truly happened on that fateful day thirteen thousand years ago may never truly be known, but these broken bodies lay witness to the fact that war, war never changes.