13,000-year-old Saharan remains may be evidence of first known race war
A new analysis on a set of human remains dating back 13,000 years, which were found on the east bank of the Nile in northern Sudan, suggests the individuals were victims of a race war, according to a report in The Independent . The finding provides evidence for the oldest known, relatively large-scale human armed conflict.
The ancient remains were originally unearthed in 1964 by the prominent American archaeologist Fred Wendorf from a prehistoric cemetery located in what is now Jebel Sahaba, Sudan. The UNESCO-funded excavations took place to investigate archaeological sites that were about to be inundated by the Aswan High Dam. The discovery of the cemetery was of immense significance as it is the oldest burial ground ever found in the Nile Valley.
The remains of nearly 60 men, women, and children were recovered and sent to the British Museum for safekeeping. Now a team of French scientists from Bordeaux University working in collaboration with the British Museum have been examining dozens of the skeletons. Their analysis has revealed numerous arrow impact marks and flint arrow head fragments on the bones of the victims, suggesting that the majority of the victims were killed by enemy archers. Furthermore, the new research demonstrates that the attacks took place over many months or years.
Skeletons from Jebel Sahaba on the east bank of the Nile in northern Sudan. Source: The Independent .
Parallel research conducted by John Moore’s University, the University of Alaska and New Orleans’ Tulane University, suggests that the victims were part of the general sub-Saharan populations, the ancestors of modern black Africans, while remains of another race, the North African/Levantine/European population group, have been found close to Jebel Sahaba.
The different racial groups could be distinguished by their unique characteristics. For example, the sub-Saharan originating group had long limbs, relatively short torsos and projecting upper and lower jaws along with rounded foreheads and broad noses, while the North African/Levantine/European originating group had shorter limbs, longer torsos and flatter faces.
During the period in which the sub-Saharans violently perished, northern Sudan was a major ethnic interface between the two racial groups. At the same time, there was a huge competition for resources due to a severe climatic downturn in which many water sources dried up, and people of all ethnic groups were forced to migrate to the banks of the Nile. Researchers suggest that the different racial groups would have inevitably clashed under these circumstances, resulting in the violent ending of a group of sub-Saharans more than 13,000 years ago.