An ancient grave yard previously thought to have been left by one epic battle, could have been caused by climate change.
Skeletons dug up at the Jebel Sahaba cemetery by the River Nile in Sudan, were first laid to rest up to 18,600 years ago.
Archaeologists discovered the site in the 1960s and theories since have suggested the dozens of bodies were buried after a single conflict, making it one of the oldest examples of organised violence.
Researchers have now proposed that a dramatic change to the Earth’s climate, forced humans to migrate to a select few areas where survival was possible.
As a result different tribes fought it out to settle in the Nile River Valley in northeast Africa.
According to Scientific Reports, 61 skeletons from the Jebel Sahaba cemetery were re-examined, revealing over 100 previously undocumented healed and unhealed injuries.
Several wounds even had lithic artifacts from weaponry like spears, still embedded in them.
The article states: “Most trauma appears to be the result of projectile weapons and new analyses confirm for the first time the repetitive nature of the interpersonal acts of violence.
“Indeed, a quarter of the skeletons with lesions exhibit both healed and unhealed trauma.
“We dismiss the hypothesis that Jebel Sahaba reflects a single warfare event, with the new data supporting sporadic and recurrent episodes of inter-personal violence, probably triggered by major climatic and environmental changes.
“At least 13.4 ka old, Jebel Sahaba is one of the earliest sites displaying interpersonal violence in the world.”
The evidence shows men, women, and children were all attacked in the same way, which is in keeping with the outsider attack theory, according to reports.
“Most are likely to have been the result of skirmishes, raids, or ambushes,” their study concludes.
“Territorial and environmental pressures triggered by climate changes are most probably responsible for these frequent conflicts between what appears to be culturally distinct Nile Valley semi-sedentary hunter-fisher-gatherers groups.”
Within the estimated time frame of the corpses being buried 13,400 and 18,600 ago, it was the last Ice Age which would have significantly reduced the areas where humans could survive.
The surroundings of the Jebel Sahaba cemetery would have been cold and inhospitable in most areas but the nearby Nile River Valley itself would have provided fresh fish, vegetation, and water.
With few other places as hospitable as near the burial ground, it became a much sought-after location.