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Inter-group violence among early Holocene hunter-gatherers of West Turkana, Kenya

Lahr, M.M.; Rivera, F.; Power, R.K.; Foley, R.A.; Mounier, A.; Copsey, B.; Crivellaro, F.; Edung, J.E.; Fernandez, J.M.; Kiarie, C.; Lawrence, J.; Leakey, A.; Mbua, E.; Miller, Holly; Muigai, A.; Mukhongo, D.; Van Baelen, A.; Wood, R.; Schwenninger, J-L.; Grun, R.; Achyuthan, H.; Wilshaw, A.


M.M. Lahr

F. Rivera

R.K. Power

R.A. Foley

A. Mounier

B. Copsey

F. Crivellaro

J.E. Edung

J.M. Fernandez

C. Kiarie

J. Lawrence

A. Leakey

E. Mbua

Assistant Professor in Zooarchaeology

A. Muigai

D. Mukhongo

A. Van Baelen

R. Wood

J-L. Schwenninger

R. Grun

H. Achyuthan

A. Wilshaw


The nature of inter-group relations among prehistoric hunter-gatherers remains disputed, with arguments in favour and against the existence of warfare before the development of sedentary societies. Here we report on a case of inter-group violence towards a group of hunter-gatherers from Nataruk, west of Lake Turkana, which during the late Pleistocene/early Holocene period extended about 30 km beyond its present-day shore. Ten of the twelve articulated skeletons found at Nataruk show evidence of having died violently at the edge of a lagoon, into which some of the bodies fell. The remains from Nataruk are unique, preserved by the particular conditions of the lagoon with no evidence of deliberate burial. They offer a rare glimpse into the life and death of past foraging people, and evidence that warfare was part of the repertoire of inter-group relations among prehistoric hunter-gatherers.


Lahr, M., Rivera, F., Power, R., Foley, R., Mounier, A., Copsey, B., …Wilshaw, A. (2016). Inter-group violence among early Holocene hunter-gatherers of West Turkana, Kenya. Nature, 529,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 31, 2015
Online Publication Date Nov 23, 2015
Publication Date Jan 20, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 24, 2018
Journal Nature
Print ISSN 0028-0836
Electronic ISSN 1476-4687
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 529
Public URL
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