Open warfare or the odd skirmish? Bell beaker violence in the north-eastern iberian peninsula

Ignacio Soriano, Juan F. Gibaja, Lluís Vila

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5 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Archaeological examples of violence in prehistory have increased in recent years. The evidence, methodology employed and interpretation of the data have been diverse, but in each case the myth of the 'peaceful past' is questioned. This work provides new data on the issue from the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula, associated with the Bell Beaker culture (c.2800-2350 cal BC). Material from two megalithic tombs, Can Gol I and Can Gol II (Barcelona Province), in particular a set of flint arrowheads, has been revisited. Use-wear analysis on the arrowheads confirmed the presence of impact fractures. This indicates that the arrowheads were not funerary offerings, but that they entered the graves lodged in the bodies of the deceased. The data from the only site with evidence of massive death by violence in the neighbouring region (Costa de Can Martorell) reinforce the hypothesis of episodes of conflict and violence during prehistory. However, the interpretation of the nature of such violence remains open to debate: was it an act of warfare or an occasional skirmish? And is the image of the Bell Beaker warrior identified in other European contexts also applicable to this area?.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-183
JournalOxford Journal of Archaeology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


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