Kennewick Man (and the implications for universal peace and harmony!)

September 3, 2014 at 2:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

K-ManI always enjoy reading about ancient remains; last week we were given details about Kennewick Man from Smithsonian magazine. He was a traveler who died about 9,000 years ago in what is now southern Washington state.

I enjoy reading these stories, but they can be depressing because they demonstrate that people’s lives back then were indeed often nasty, brutish, and short.

Otzi the Iceman from northern Italy is a fine example. When he was first found, I remember that no one knew the cause of death. I read conjectures that he died of a heart attack, fell face down in the snow, and then a bird came and pecked his head. Not a very glorious or solemn end, but hey, there are worse ways to go.

THEN it turned out that he had an arrow lodged in his back . . . so he was likely shot from behind, and then he fell down into the snow and after he was dead a bird came and pecked his head.

THEN it was discovered that he was covered with the blood of two or three other people, and he had a skull fracture, plus defensive wounds on his hands, plus the arrow in the back.  Jeez, the bird pecking a hole in his scalp was an improvement for this guy compared to what he’d been through.

Who cares? Why mention this on a peace blog? Because, for me, it seems more unlikely we will ever live in a peaceful world if humans seem hardwired for violence — and so many old skeletons we find do indeed betray spectacular violence. I feel like just throwing in the towel when I read about how hard humans have tried to destroy one another for so long.

And Kennewick Man’s contribution to this? Well, scientists don’t know what killed him, but they do know that he had two small skull fractures, which he survived; and six broken ribs, which he also survived and which never healed properly; and he also had a spear tip lodged in his pelvis.

Furthermore, the Smithsonian article states that about half of ancient skulls in America have fractures similar to his. The most likely explanation is that people threw a lot of rocks at each other. Half of ancient American skulls.

So this is the raw material we are working with, from which we hope to come up with a peaceful society.

Maybe we should just be encouraged that we have lowered the incidence of skull fractures and spearing so drastically. Perhaps we are more than halfway home.


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