What are the saddest things archaeologists have discovered?

I believe that the findings of this recent genetic and archaeological study are particularly sad, not least because they destroy the myth of the “noble savages” and the optimistic idea that “war is only the product of power struggle between unequal civilizations”, thereby reinforcing the stronger conclusion that Human societies have been brutal and highly competitive for a long time. It gives us a glimpse of what a “demographic change”, “genetic replacement” or “ethnic change” that we have heard while studying history somewhere, meant back then, in stark reality (this is only part of the story). , of course, but it’s a sad part).

So what is this? About 5 thousand years ago in Poland, 15 people were carefully buried together in a common grave. Most of them belonged to the same extended family, part of a close-knit patriarchal clan, and there were four related nuclear families. Each of them died from severe blows to the head, at the same time and in the same way.

The people who buried them knew them quite well, because they accommodated each body next to their closest relatives: each woman with her respective son, brothers next to each other, wives next to their husbands.

The victims of the massacre are mostly women (one of them was between 50-60 years old) and their children, including children, adolescents and two babies, one of them one and a half years old, and the other between two and two and a half years old (of which parents are not buried in the grave). They were certainly not a “threat” to any nearby tribe or clan.

Apart from all those who belonged to the same family, there was also a young woman who had no genetic relationship with anyone in the immediate or extended family, but was buried near a young man without any children, so it is thought that she was his girlfriend or were a newly married couple.

Interestingly, with the exception of one adult man buried alongside his wife and son, no other older men were found in the grave, which points to different possibilities, one of them especially sad for me: probably most of the adult men were it was in their pack activities, in a hunting expedition, or perhaps in some battle, and some rival tribe to theirs took advantage of this situation to eliminate all the inhabitants of the small family farm or village. The scientists concluded that “the nature of the injuries and the absence of self-defense fractures (for example, injuries received to the upper limbs) suggest that the individuals were captured and executed, rather than killed in a hand-to-hand fight.”. In other words, they had no chance to defend or fight back, so they were easily killed. How pitiful and cowardly is that?!

That would explain why, after such a violent death, the villagers were buried with such care. Perhaps the men returned from their work to find their entire family, all the loved ones they left in the village, cowardly murdered in their absence, including the youngest of them, powerless, the only thing they could do was bury them with great care and love. close to his relatives for his eternal rest.

Although it sounds quite cruel, other archaeological evidence found so far suggests that this type of situation was far from unusual and surprising in the war culture of antiquity, even before the risks became much more complex, such as conflicts between great and rich empires

That family was not even kidnapped, enslaved or anything similar. It seems as if someone has been “clearing the ground” for their own people: no one should survive. The adult men probably only survived because they were not present at the time of the slaughter, otherwise we would not even have found such a careful and lovingly done burial, ensuring that each person would rest eternally next to their loved ones. I wonder what those men did after seeing what their enemies did to their family, but I can assume it wasn’t pretty.

Unfortunately much of human history, even recent, even at this moment, is made up of events as sad and atrocious as this one. What is really worrying is that as archaeologists went about their work, they discovered that the unpleasant things that humans are capable of are present in all places, all times, and in all different social and economic organizations. What that has to say about humanity is the saddest part of that story for me.