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Stone Age man killed to get a woman
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
The mass-grave of 34 Stone Age skeletons found in Talheim, Germany
Many archaeologists have argued that women have long motivated cycles of violence and blood feuds throughout history but there has really been no solid archaeological evidence to support this view.Now a relatively new method has been used to work out the origins of the victims tossed into a mass grave of skeletons, and so distinguish one tribe from another, revealing that neighbouring tribes were prepared to kill their male rivals to secure their women some 7000 years ago.
The Durham University research, described in the academic journal Antiquity, focused on 34 skeletons found buried in the village of Talheim in the south-west of Germany.
Geographic "signatures", chemically derived from the skeletons' teeth, suggest they were of people killed in an attack between rival tribes around 5000 BC as previously dated through radiocarbon methods.
Before the study, it seemed several women were among this unfortunate group, a minority.
But once the new method was used to separate the victims by geographic origin, it was clear that the local group was special - local because it was the only group with any young children, and special because it was the only group without adult women, despite being the largest group.
The researchers conclude the absence of local females indicates that they were spared execution and captured instead which may have indeed been the primary motivation for the attack.