Resource scarcity drives lethal aggression among prehistoric hunter-gatherers in central California

PNAS Vol/Iss. 113(43) PNAS Published In Pages: 12120-12125
By Allen, Mark W., Bettinger, Robert Lawrence, Codding, Brian F., Jones, Terry L., Schwitalla, Al W.


Previous research into the origins of human violence and warfare has oftentimes been inconclusive and controversial. This paper examines two alternative theories as to the evolution of human violence using archaeological records on sharp force trauma (SFT) and blunt force trauma (BFT). The study is limited to 13 different California ethnolinguistic groups. Researchers find that violence is not predicted by sociopolitical complexity, but rather by environmental productivity. This supports the idea that in contexts of resource scarcity, the perceived benefits to engage in lethal aggression may outweigh perceived costs.


See table 1 on page 12123 for a full list of the tests. While there are two main hypotheses tested in the paper, the researchers combined the two in some cases to perform further tests not reported here.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Western North American Indian (WNAI) datasetPreviously Coded
Central California Bioarchaeological Database
Codding and Jones 2013Previously CodedUsed codes from Codding & Jones (2013), PNAS 110(36): 14569-14573.

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:abbe.mccarter