The origins of war

What the 13,000-year-old graves of Jebel Sahaba are telling us is that civilization was not the problem—and perhaps also that we are not doomed to perpetual war.

Flickr Photo: Charlie Phillips
A view of the Nile River from the Nobles Tombs at Aswan, Egypt. The skeletons of Jebel Sahaba were dug up in a salvage dig in response to the raising of the Aswan High Dam.
Gwynne Dyer
Published: Friday, 07/25/2014 12:50 am EDT

The 59 skeletons were found in 1964, lying together in a gravesite beside the Nile near what is now the Egyptian-Sudanese border. They died between 13,000 and 14,000 years ago, and some of them seemed to have died in battle. That was big news half a century ago, when most people still believed that organized killing was an invention of civilization. Now they are back in the news, billed as evidence of the world’s oldest known battle.

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