Signs of violence at archaeological sites in the madrid region during the iberian chalcolithic

Corina Liesau, Patricia Ríos, Concepción Blasco, José Luis Gómez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study focuses on aspects related to interpersonal or intergroup violence during the Iberian Chalcolithic by discussing some archaeological evidences which have not been thoroughly evaluated to date. Particular attention is given to a series of injuries observed in some burials, which in the light of recent anthropological and paleopathological studies are becoming more numerous and diverse. Besides reviewing some papers and proposals on bone injuries resulting from acts of violence, new documented evidences are offered from the study of two Chalcolithic burials in Madrid: Camino de las Yeseras and Humanejos and related to an old one from the cemetery of Ciempozuelos. In the first of these sites, a multiple inhumation in a pit has been documented. It contains a possible family group associated with flint arrow heads intermingled with the skeletons and they seem to be related to the violent death of the group in a short space of time. Far more striking are the injuries found on two Bell Beaker males, one of them from Camino de las Yeseras, a senile with broken and deviated nasal bones, probably due to an interpersonal conflict. The second example, from Humanejos, is a 30 year old male who was a victim of a major traumatic injury to the forehead ante mortem. It was possibly caused by a copper adze or small axe, due to a face-to-face conflict. Both cases seem to suggest that, interpersonal or intergroup violence during the Iberian Chalcolithic is not infrequent. Also the archaeological record is revealing the existence of defensive architectures in several sites, where a considerable amount of arrow heads have been recovered in entrances, walls and workshops. These circumstances and the increase of arrow heads also in some ditched enclosures could explain their productions as primary defensive and offensive artefacts and later on the emergence of the first copper Palmela arrow heads in Iberia. Otherwise, as the archaeozoological studies of some chalcolithic sites reveal, that the increasing frequency of the flint arrow heads productions are not necessarily related to the rise of hunting activities during the 3rd millennium. It is also discussed the use of some metal tools as weapons during the Bell Beaker horizon as they only appear in household contexts and the functionality of some of the Beaker "package" items from tombs as weapons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-36
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Bell beaker
  • Bone injuries
  • Iberian chalcolític
  • Prehistoric violence


Dive into the research topics of 'Signs of violence at archaeological sites in the madrid region during the iberian chalcolithic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this