Evidence of major conflict in Spain 5,000-years-ago

Archaeologists have uncovered the skeletal remains of more than 300 individuals, indicating that a major conflict occurred in Laguardia, Spain, 5,000-years-ago.

The discovery was made by the University of Valladolid at the site of San Juan ante Portam Latinam, a rock shelter which was occupied during the Neolithic period around 3380–3000 BC.

The rock shelter is located in the the Rioja Alavesa region of north-central Iberia, which was first discovered accidently in 1985 when a bulldozer was widening a track.

In a paper published in the journal Nature, the researchers found the remains of 338 individuals, many of which have skeletal injuries, unhealed wounds and lesions, showing higher frequencies of injuries per individual than other demographic subgroups previously found in the region.

- Advertisement -

In conjunction with the discovery of at least 41 isolated arrowheads that appear to have penetrated tissues, as well as the disorganised and tangled overlay of numerous bodies, it suggests the potential involvement of a significant number of individuals, primarily men, but also including women and children.

According to the study authors: “Conflicts during the European Neolithic (approximately 9,000 to 4,000 years ago) remain poorly understood. Previous research suggested that these consisted of short raids lasting no more than a few days and involving small groups of up to 20-30 individuals, so it was assumed that prehistoric societies lacked the logistical capacity to sustain long, large-scale conflicts. It was previously thought that the first such conflicts in Europe occurred during the Bronze Age (approximately 4,000 to 2,800 years ago).”

Carbon dating of the skeletal remains places them between 5,400 and 5,000 years ago and is the largest violence-related event known for the European Neolithic which likely occurred over several months.

The origins of the conflict remain uncertain, however, the authors offer conjecture regarding numerous potential factors, one of which involves the discord between various cultural factions caused by biological stress, malnourishment, and fixed mobility in the region.

University of Valladolid

Header Image Credit : José Ignacio Vegas

- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is an award winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education and the BCA Medal of Honour.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Clusters of ancient qanats discovered in Diyala

An archaeological survey has identified three clusters of ancient qanats in the Diyala Province of Iraq.

16,800-year-old Palaeolithic dwelling found in La Garma cave

Archaeologists have discovered a 16,800-year-old Palaeolithic dwelling in the La Garma cave complex, located in the municipality of Ribamontán al Monte in Spain’s Cantabria province.

Burials found in Maya chultun

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have uncovered burials within a chultun storage chamber at the Maya city of Ek' Balam.

Archaeologists analyse medieval benefits system

Archaeologists from the University of Leicester have conducted a study in the main cemetery of the hospital of St. John the Evangelist, Cambridge, to provide new insights into the medieval benefits system.

Major archaeological discoveries in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

In an announcement by the State Office for Culture and Monument Preservation (LAKD), archaeologists excavating in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have uncovered seven Bronze Age swords, 6,000 silver coins, and two Christian reliquary containers.

Early humans hunted beavers 400,000-years-ago

Researchers suggests that early humans were hunting, skinning, and eating beavers around 400,000-years-ago.

Archaeologists find burial bundles with carved masks

A team of archaeologists from the PUCP Archaeology Program “Valley of Pachacámac” have uncovered over 70 intact burial bundles with carved masks.

Should the Elgin Marbles be returned?

The Elgin marbles are a collection of decorative marble sculptures taken from the temple of Athena (the Parthenon) on the Acropolis in Athens.