Skeletal remains of 19 individuals found at Titris Hoyuk site. Photo: Titris Hoyuk Archive
Mass killings, systematic violence or warfare seem to have existed across all stages of the human civilization. A mass burial excavated at Titris Hoyuk, an archaeological site of Early Bronze Age (3000-2000 BC) in southern Turkey, shows evidence of massacre that happened about 4,000 years ago.
Skeletal remains of at least 19 individuals, including three women, two children and an infant, were found placed on a plastered basin buried under a house floor in Southeast Anatolia in 1998.
Turkish archaeologist Omur Dilek Erdal, who examined the human remains in terms of cranial traumas (head injuries), has revealed that his study provides links to possible massacres among ancient population.
The study findings, published in the current issue of International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, suggest that about 16 of the adult skeletons showed signs of more violent cranial traumas, which were probably caused by spears or axes.
The frequency of cranial trauma was 81.3% among 16 available adult crania. The fact that the perimortem traumas were observed on both sex groups and the presence of two children and an infant on the basin suggest the possibility of these individuals being subjected to an attack or a massacre, Erdal noted in his research.
Erdal of Hacettepe University, Department of Anthropology, Ankara, also suggested that the distressed social and economic situations following the fall of Akkadian Empire may have forced incidents of violence and massacre in Titris Hoyuk. The Akkadian Empire reigned in Mesopotamia, the region that constituted the present-day southeastern Turkey.
Earlier, it was widely believed that the Anatolians did not experience violence, but the latest research on the skeletal remains of Titris Hoyuk site depicts that violence rather spread in Anatolia during the Bronze Age (3000-1200 BC), starting in the Early Bronze Age .
Current interpretations of the fractures identified on this sample, which includes individuals from all age and sex groups, ranging from infants to old adults, suggests that they were victims of violence, Erdal said.
Large scale development of fortifications at Titris Hoyuk towards the end of the Early Bronze Age is yet another factor that intrigues archaeologists to believe that massacres may have occurred at this ancient site with outside invaders having killed the people.
A map showing location of Titris Höyük and other Anatolian settlements. Photo: Titris Hoyuk Archive