BERLIN (AP) — Scientists say they have found rare evidence of a prehistoric massacre in Europe after discovering a 7,000-year-old mass grave with skeletal remains from some of the continent’s first farmers bearing terrible wounds.
Let’s face it, human beings have been killing each other for a long time. Take it as far back as you want. Our most remote ancestor, that salamander-type thing that was somewhere between a fish and an amphibian, that first crawled up out of the ocean some several billion years ago and started the populating of terra firma, probably turned on the second such creature to emerge from the water and killed it. (Unless one was female, in which case they probably did something else.) But doubtless the first two males of that species tore into each other in a primitive version of “King of the Mountain,” a contest over which would lay claim to the “new world.” It’s a neverending pattern.
Evidence out of Europe suggests that humans were slaughtering each other on a grand scale even earlier than previously believed. Over two dozen skeletons, belonging to men, women, and children, unearthed from a mass grave near Frankfurt, Germany, show telltale signs of murder and mutilation. These bones were once farmers, not warriors, so this wasn’t a battle site. And some of the injuries inflicted on the deceased, specifically the breaking of their legs, were unnecessary to kill them; they were done either to deliberately inflict pain—torture, in other words—or else to send some kind of grim message to future victims. And all this before we had television or video games to blame it on.