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Scientists Find Most Ancient Evidence of War


Detail of the skull of the skeleton of a man found lying prone in the sediments of a lagoon 30km west of Lake Turkana, Kenya, at a place called Nataruk, is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters, Jan. 20, 2016.

Detail of the skull of the skeleton of a man found lying prone in the sediments of a lagoon 30km west of Lake Turkana, Kenya, at a place called Nataruk, is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters, Jan. 20, 2016.


British scientists say they have found the oldest known evidence of war.

Researchers discovered the remains of 27 people near Lake Turkana in northern Kenya. Scientists say they believe the remains are from a Stone Age culture of about 10,000 years ago. The so-called Nataruk fossils show signs of a violent attack.

The dig also uncovered weapons including arrows, clubs and stone blades. The scientists published a paper on their findings in the journal Nature.

Marta Mirazon Lahr was the lead investigator. She is a paleoanthropologist at the University of Cambridge in Britain. She wrote that the victims were people who hunted, fished and gathered plants for food.

She described the 10,000-year-old battle in which they were killed as a “brutal” attack.

One skeleton was found with a blade of volcanic glass still stuck in his head. A woman in late pregnancy appeared to have been bound by her hands and feet.

Our species arose 200,000 years ago in Africa. Many experts had thought war did not begin until humans started to form settled communities. But the Nataruk people were nomadic hunter-gatherers of an earlier period.

So, scientist Lahr says, the findings “raise the question of whether warfare has been part of the human experience for much longer than previously thought."

The remains found included 21 adults and six children. Most of the children were younger than 6.

I'm Anne Ball.

Jim Dresbach adapted this story for Learning English from Reuters news report. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

Stone Age – n. the oldest period in which human beings are known to have existed: the age during which humans made and used stone tools

clubn. a heavy usually wooden stick that is used as a weapon​

bladen. the flat sharp part of a weapon or tool that is used for cutting​

paleoanthropologistn. a researcher of the origins and predecessors of the present human species, using fossils and other remains​

brutaladj. extremely cruel​

nomadicadj. of, or relating to, a group of people who move from place to place instead of living in one place all the time

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