If human burials were our only window onto the past, what story
would they tell? Skeletal injuries constitute the most direct and
unambiguous evidence for violence in the past. Whereas weapons or
defenses may simply be statements of prestige or status and written
sources are characteristically biased and incomplete, human remains
offer clear and unequivocal evidence of physical aggression
reaching as far back as we have burials to examine. Warfare is
often described as `senseless' and as having no place in society.
Consequently, its place in social relations and societal change
remains obscure. The studies in The Routledge Handbook of the
Bioarchaeology of Human Conflict present an overview of the nature
and development of human conflict from prehistory to recent times
as evidenced by the remains of past people themselves in order to
explore the social contexts in which such injuries were inflicted.
A broadly chronological approach is taken from prehistory through
to recent conflicts, however this book is not simply a catalogue of
injuries illustrating weapon development or a narrative detailing
`progress' in warfare but rather provides a framework in which to
explore both continuity and change based on a range of important
themes which hold continuing relevance throughout human
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