A new study published in Environmental Archaeology shows an interesting link: the growth of agriculture has led to an increasing collaboration between human groups but at the same time has also led to an increase and peaks of violence.
Researchers from UConn, the University of Utah, Troy University and California State University, Sacramento, examined in particular the development of agricultural growth from 7500 to 5000 years ago.
The researchers came to the conclusion that agriculture has favoured new types of cooperation between human beings, which in some ways is also foreseeable, but it has also favoured the birth of an increasingly elaborate type of violence, in particular that perpetrated by groups or real organizations.
Initially, researchers did not expect a connection with the increase in violence: they were interested in understanding why human beings, at some point in their history, have moved from hunting and gathering to a system such as agriculture. An anthropological study like any other.
Then Elic Weitzel, a PhD researcher at UConn in anthropology, began collecting data on an increasingly large scale. He began to understand how individuals distribute themselves in an area and how groups begin to occupy the best positions first.
The best areas are those that facilitate access to food, water, raw materials and shelters.
The researcher noted that in the areas with the best positions there were larger groups of people and greater social conflict, which consequently led to a higher level of violence.
“If you live in a suitable area, you can claim it and prevent others from accessing what you have. This becomes a cooperative process, because one person is not as effective as an entire group in defending a territory”.
According to another author of the study, Stephen Carmody, a researcher at Troy University, agriculture was one of the transitions that had the most consequences in human history and that changed, among other things, the entire human economic situation.
Agriculture itself has led to increasingly combined efforts, between groups of people, to encourage not only harvesting but also the defence of the harvest itself and of stocks, which has increased interpersonal cooperation but has also led to greater violence.
More and more groups, in fact, aimed to acquire the harvest of other groups in cases where their harvest had failed, for example.
The increase in violence is also evidenced by the increase in the skeletons of people who have died from violent acts dating back to the very beginning of agriculture.