Researchers discovered skeletons in the Atacama Desert that bore marks of violence and conflict. Farmers had perhaps competed for the little resources in the arid region, with no choice but to eliminate the competition.
Farming in a desert is not easy, and the adversity in such an environment might have driven farmers to extremes to survive. Conflict and violence are the most likely influence that shaped the event several thousand years ago for their survival.
Survival is the objective
The first settlers in this arid region were notably in the driest and most difficult place to live on earth, but the environment became the least of the problems, report Science Alert.
The discovery of disgusting remains dating back to 3,000 years ago shows how the settlers attempted to make farms in the Atacama (Chile). Researchers did an investigation to understand what happened then. Scholars have suggested that hard-grown crops were the least of the farmer's problems. As time progressed, the tension of the community and society's transition is evident on the skeletons preserved by the desert.
According to Vivien Standen, an anthropologist of the University of Tarapac in Chile, she wrote in the study published by Science Direct. She stated the extreme desert conditions had forced all farming to the valley terraces, Quebrada, and oases, which were slivers of land that allowed the cultivation of crops. All other areas did not allow successful farming due to dry conditions.
Standen added that moving from the coast to these rich oases houses the only sustenance for crops, lacking in barren landscapes. In the end, these conditions on the community and land use prompted the outbreak of tension that led to violence and conflict, as depicted in the skeletons found in the Atacama Desert as proof of it.
The remains of 194 adults were examined by the study authors dug up in ancient cemeteries in the Azapa Valley. It is the contested area of the richest and fertile valley inhabited in north Chile.
Violence and tension are unmistakable
The remains were well-preserved skeletons with hair and soft tissue for 800-600 Before Common Era (BCE). There were injuries on them that showed fighting and violence.
Based on the evidence, the remains examined show these conditions with 21 percent with injuries of different degrees. About 10 percent were suspected of having died from violent trauma, and destructive actions, about 14 skulls were shattered that might cause death.
The scientists detected injuries that can be seen as high-impact strikes in violent encounters by the specimens. The death blows might be from the front or a rear surprise attack. Like modern-day violence, the victims were bludgeoned by a strong impact that shatters their craniums, getting their faces crushed and fracturing the head, which caused the brain tissue to get exposed. These weapons were either blunt or sharp like a mace, sticks, hand baton, or arrows like missiles that caused injuries or death.
One of the reasons why violence erupted is due to claims of territory and crucial resources to survive in the desert, maybe the slowly altering climate as today like the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The skeletons found in the Atacama Desert, according to the findings in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, outline everything about the onset of murder and violence.