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Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson argue there is evi-
dence to suggest ˜that chimpanzee-like violence preceded and
paved the way for human war, making modern humans the
dazed survivors of a continuous, 5-million-year habit of lethal
aggression™ (1996: 63). Chapter 4 therefore looks at evidence
for the evolutionary signi¬cance of human warfare. It argues
that warfare and peacemaking are equally important in human
social evolution.

wa r i n s m a l l - s c a l e s o c i et i e s
Paul Sillitoe de¬nes war as ˜a relationship of mutual hostil-
ity between two groups where both try by armed force to
secure some gain at the other™s expense™ (Sillitoe 1978: 252;
cf. Ember and Ember 1997: 3). The frequency of warfare
138
Warfare, biology and culture 139
among human populations has led some to argue that warfare
is the product of an inherent human disposition, a genetically
determined drive to aggression. During the 1960s, writers such
as Robert Ardrey (1967) and Konrad Lorenz (1966 [1963])
popularised the idea that warfare was linked to ˜instinctive ™
defence of territories, and therefore part of human nature.
Raymond Dart™s alleged evidence for cannibalism among
Australopithecines (Dart 1925, 1959) appeared to con¬rm our
ancestors had long killed members of their own species. Close
parallels were drawn between human territoriality and that
of other species. It has, however, since been shown that Aus-
tralopithecines were victims of animal predators rather than
members of their own species (Brain 1981). Research into ter-
ritorial behaviour among animals reveals that territoriality is
much more ¬‚exible than Lorenz and others had supposed.
Even among bird species, aggressive behaviour and territori-
ality were found to depend on the speci¬c costs and bene¬ts
of defending a resource in a particular environment. Davies,
for example, studied the feeding patterns of pied wagtails in
the Thames Valley of southern England and found that some
individuals defended territories along a river, while others fed
peacefully together in ¬‚ocks on nearby ¬‚ooded pools (Davies
1981).
More recent observations of inter-group violence and the
defence of territories among chimpanzees have nonetheless
again raised the prospect that warfare may be a genetic trait
that we and chimpanzees have inherited from our common
ancestors. Jane Goodall (1986) and Toshisada Nishida, Mariko
Haraiwa-Hasegawa and Yukio Takahata (1985) reported cases
of chimpanzees extending their territories by attack on adja-
cent groups, leading to the claim of a direct connection
between male chimpanzee aggression and human warfare. A
second observation has led to the claim that warfare evolved
Order and anarchy
140
as a means of obtaining more wives. In many primate species,
males typically leave their natal group at puberty and have to
join another before they can reproduce. Among both chim-
panzees and many small-scale human societies it is, on the
contrary, females who leave their natal group to join their
husband™s group. Social anthropologists have long argued
that the exchange of marriage partners between social groups
is one of the most fundamental ways in which humans create
alliances (Tylor 1903, L´ vi-Strauss 1969). The discovery that
e
females also move between groups among chimpanzees poten-
tially throws light on the origin of the inter-group alliances
in human society (Rodseth et al. 1991) and provides grounds
for contending other groups were attacked to obtain their
women rather than their territory. Napoleon Chagnon, for
example, claims that Yanomami ¬ght for access to women and
to revenge deaths caused by sorcery (Chagnon 1997: 97).
Chimpanzees and humans are unusual if not, as Wrang-
ham and Peterson claim, exceptional among animal species in
killing members of their own species. ˜That chimpanzees and
humans kill members of neighbouring groups of their own
species is, we have seen, a startling exception to the normal
rule for animals™ (Wrangham and Peterson 1996: 63). Claims
of a common origin for human and chimpanzee inter-group
aggression were stimulated by reports of so-called ˜warfare ™
between two troops of chimpanzees at Gombe (Goodall 1986)
and in the Mahale mountains, both sites in Tanzania (Nishida,
Haraiwa-Hasegawa and Takahata 1985, Nishida 1979). Males
appear to patrol territorial borders, and ¬ve attacks leading to
deaths were observed at Gombe, culminating in the annexa-
tion of territory containing females.
There is still some question about how typical this pat-
tern is, and to what extent it may have been in¬‚uenced
by the research team™s practice of supplying the Gombe
Warfare, biology and culture 141
chimpanzees with bananas. After the supply of bananas had
been drastically reduced, the Gombe community split into two
groups and became polarised within a range they had previ-
ously apparently shared. Over a period of two years the males
of the larger group killed at least some of those in the smaller
group (Goodall 1986: 503“14). Encroaching farmers may also
have displaced other chimpanzees into the area, increasing the
pressure on food resources (Ghiglieri 1984: 8). It is plausible
that provisioning and consequent population increase, fol-
lowed by a sudden reduction in the food supply, affected the
intensity and/or frequency of inter-group violence at Gombe.
The Mahale mountains of Tanzania, on the eastern side of Lake
Tanganyika, contain at least eight chimpanzee communities,
each consisting of up to 100 individuals (Nishida, Takasaki
and Takahata 1990: 66, table 3.2). While territories are gener-
ally exclusive, groups ˜M™ and ˜N™ showed, for a time, some
overlap of ranges (Nishida, Takasaki and Takahata 1990: 71,
¬g. 3.4). Group ˜M™ subsequently gained exclusive access to
the area previously shared. There is circumstantial evidence
for raiding, but no direct evidence that one group of males
systematically wiped out another in order to gain access to
females. As Joseph Manson and Richard Wrangham (1991)
therefore acknowledge, there are only two known cases (one
con¬rmed and one probable) of group extinction via lethal
raiding (Manson and Wrangham 1991: 371).1

Michael Wilson, William Wallauer and Anne Pusey (2004) report three
1

further intercommunity attacks observed at Gombe, and one ¬nding of a
dead adolescent male who had apparently been killed by other chimpanzees.
All the attacks were perpetrated by parties of males who appeared to have
deliberately ranged beyond their usual core territory in search of individuals
from neighbouring communities. Two of the observed attacks led to the
death of an infant, the third to the severe wounding of a young male. They
occurred in 1993 and 1998. Observations were suspended during 2000 and
Order and anarchy
142
Chagnon™s work on the Yanomam¨ has played an important
o
role in the advocacy of such an approach to human violence.
It was Chagnon™s ethnography of the Yanomam¨ that pro-o
vided Wrangham and Peterson with the evidence for their
claim for a direct link between human and chimpanzee ˜war-
fare™. Chagnon™s study, originally subtitled The ¬erce people
(Chagnon 1968) and still (¬fth edition) bearing a cover illus-
tration of armed warriors, presents a vivid picture of per-
vasive warfare in a society on the borders of Brazil and
Venezuela. Chagnon has also claimed evidence of an intrin-
sic link between warfare and natural selection. In 1988, he
published data showing that unokai “ Yanomam¨ men who o
had killed other men “ reproduced more successfully than did
non-killers. According to Wrangham and Peterson, unokai
have 2.5 times the average number of wives as other men,
and more than 3 times the average number of children as
other men. This allowed Wrangham and Peterson to con-
clude ˜lethal raiding among the Yanomam¨ , it seems, gives
o
the raiders a genetic success™ (Wrangham and Peterson 1996:
68). Wrangham and Peterson pose the rhetorical question: ˜Is
the elaborate . . . edi¬ce of cerebral material that makes up our
humanity still deeply infused with the essence of that ancient

2001 in case the chimpanzees were emboldened by the presence of humans,
but the dead male was discovered in 2002. While the sample is small, Wilson,
Wallauer and Pusey conclude that the age and sex of the victims support the
hypotheses that the bene¬t of such incursions into neighbouring territories
is to reduce the number of rival males, or to reduce competition for food in
zones where the territories of adjacent communities overlap. They tend to
reject the alternative hypothesis that infants are killed to induce the mother
to defect to the attackers™ community. Their approach is consistent with
Aureli, Cords and Van Schaik (2002): ˜such violence, like other forms of
aggression, is a strategic option employed when assessment of expected costs
and bene¬ts indicates that attack will yield net bene¬ts to the attackers™
(Wilson, Wallauer and Pusey 2004: 524).
Warfare, biology and culture 143
forest brain™ embodied in the common ancestor of chimps and
humans (Wrangham and Peterson 1996: 62)?
Christopher Boehm (1992) begins from a similar character-
isation of chimpanzees, but draws his comparison more gener-
ally with ˜the warlike non-literate societies that feud™ (Boehm
1992: 140). Among these he includes some hunter-gatherers
but also the cattle-herding Nuer and the Tiv farmers of Africa,
New Guinea horticulturalists and Montenegrin tribesmen in
Europe (Boehm 1992: 154, 162). He argues these societies are
all characterised, like chimpanzee communities, by patrilineal
recruitment to groups and patrilocal residence. That is, peo-
ple both belong to, and live with, their father™s group. Boehm
accepts that not all human hunter-gatherer societies defend
the boundaries of their territories, and bases much of his dis-
cussion on the hunting, herding and horticultural societies
which best ¬t his model.

Violence and peacemaking
I argue that violence and peacemaking are both parts of a
broader social complex. One cannot be discussed without
the other. In the early 1970s, Jonathan Miller gave a sem-
inar to the Anthropology Department at University College
London about Sir Henry Head and W. H. Rivers™s experiments
on nerve regeneration, conducted after the First World War.
Head and Rivers concluded that a primeval all-or-nothing
nervous response was ¬rst restored, later to be overlain by
a civilised, moderated reaction. Miller compared this to the
notion that modern cars/automobiles possess a primeval,
Model-T Ford accelerator, barely kept in check by sophisti-
cated,modernbrakes.As Miller pointedout,even the Model-T
Ford required an integrated system of accelerator and brake
in order to function effectively. According to Wrangham and
Order and anarchy
144
Peterson (1996: 64), the chimpanzee evidence shows that war-
fare is not an instrument of policy or a product of social con-
ditions. ˜The appetite for engagement, the excited assembly of
a war party, the stealthy raid, the discovery of an enemy and
the quick estimation of odds, the gang-kill, and the escape are
common elements that make intercommunity violence possible
for both™ (Wrangham and Peterson 1996: 71, my emphasis).
This is the ˜primeval accelerator™ approach.
A recent review article (Aureli, Cords and Van Schaik 2002)
stresses that violence is costly for all social animals. Ways of
placing a brake on violence are bene¬cial to all social species:
For gregarious animals, con¬‚ict of interest, while unavoidable, may
compromise the bene¬ts of group living or neighbourliness, especially
when it escalates into aggression. If this induces the losers to leave
the group, they forfeit the bene¬ts of group life, or face the risks
associated with transfer into another group. The departure of the
losers may also reduce the bene¬ts of group living to the winners and,
even without leaving, aggression may jeopardise future co-operation.
Similar costs are likely in territorial species that have stable relations
with neighbours. (Aureli, Cords and Van Schaik 2002: 325, my italics)

Filipo Aureli and his co-authors conclude: ˜Behavioural mech-
anisms that mitigate con¬‚icts, prevent aggressive escalation
and resolve disputes should therefore be strongly selected
in animals living in stable social organisations™ (325). One
example they cite in favour of this hypothesis is that male
chimpanzees engage in reconciliations after con¬‚ict more fre-
quently than do females (Aureli, Cords and Van Schaik 2002:
334). In other words, aggression risks depriving individuals
of the bene¬ts gained from a social relationship.
A potential objection to extending Aureli, Cords and Van
Schaik™s ¬ndings to human societies is that they are primarily
concerned with relationships between members of the same
local group. They do, however, argue ˜similar costs are likely
Warfare, biology and culture 145
in territorial species that have stable relations with neigh-
bours™ (see above). In a paper written with my colleague
Robert Barton (Layton and Barton 2001) we argue that a
comparison of human and chimpanzee territoriality reveals
that hunter-gatherers have developed ¬‚exible forms of terri-
torial behaviour which generally circumvent the conditions
that apparently lead to inter-group violence among chim-
panzees. Chimpanzees live in social groups comparable in
size to human hunter-gatherer bands (20“100 individuals),
but chimpanzee groups are autonomous, whereas hunter-
gatherers in low latitudes can move freely between bands
within a larger regional community sustained by various forms
of exchange. The regional community typically comprises
about ten to ¬fteen bands, often totalling 500 people but some-
times numbering up to 1,500. This phenomenon is what Lars
Rodseth et al. (1991) and Clive Gamble (1998) called ˜the
release from proximity™, the emergence of social networks
which depend on uniquely human genetic skills yet extend and
transform the social environment into which the individual
human is born (cf. Geertz 1973c).
What ecological pressures might have favoured the devel-
opment of wider social networks among humans? Eric Alden
Smith (1988) provided an explanation for the bene¬ts to
hunter-gatherers of being able to join different bands, or for-
age temporarily on the territory of another band. Smith argued
that in many environments inhabited by hunter-gatherers,
bands in a region would be uncertain about which area would
contain the most abundant resources at any time, and would
recognise resources fail in different territories at different
times. This is particularly the case in the semi-arid tropi-
cal environments in which modern humans are thought to
have evolved. If one band™s territory experiences better rain-
fall than its neighbours, the band will bene¬t from allowing
Order and anarchy
146
other bands to share its windfall, provided those bands in turn
allow their former hosts to camp with them when the unpre-
dictable sequence of rainfall favours the former guests. In these
circumstances mutual access to each other™s territories is an
adaptive strategy. The patterns of inter-band visiting and gift
exchange characteristic of hunter-gatherers function to main-
tain the regional network of social relationships upon which
rights of mutual access depend. Even Chagnon (1988: 987)
reports that Yanomam¨ lineages frequently move between
o
villages and this, to some extent, inhibits raiding between vil-
lages containing recent allies.
Layton and Barton (2001) concluded that permeable ter-
ritorial boundaries are most adaptive in a sparse, patchy and
unpredictable environment (cf. Davies and Houston 1984,
Dyson-Hudson and Smith 1978). Since most chimpanzees
live in forest, whereas modern humans probably evolved in a
savanna environment, we hypothesised that the genetic capa-
bility for sustaining social relationships that allow movement
between bands evolved after the separation of the human and
chimpanzee lines of evolution. We argued the patrilineal basis
of many of the human societies cited by Boehm (1992) is
ideological rather than actual. In other words, men may
address each other as ˜brother™, but the actual composition
of the coalition at the core of human local groups is, in prac-
tice (and unlike chimpanzees), rarely if ever exclusively a
group of males biologically descended from a common ances-
tor (see chapter 2). The starting point for any comparison
between humans and any non-human primate species must
be the behaviour of both species, not the ideology of one and
the behaviour of the other. Chimpanzee territorial behaviour
cannot therefore be equated with the ancestral human pattern.
Since inter-group violence will threaten regional social net-
works, it is most likely to occur where little value is attached
Warfare, biology and culture 147
to such networks. Mutual access is least adaptive in envi-
ronments where resources are dense and patchy, but season-
ally predictable in distribution (the opposite of the scenario
described by E. A. Smith). The best-documented exception to
the right to forage on neighbouring band territories was found
on the northwest coast of North America, where resources are
densely distributed, and predictable in their seasonal abun-
dance. Northwest coast territories were held, and their bound-
aries defended, by hunter-gatherer lineages. Trespassers were
killed (Boas 1966: 35); land could be alienated and slaves taken
during warfare (Gar¬eld and Wingert 1966: 14, 29). This pat-
tern was not a primeval one. Herbert Maschner (1997) dates
the origin of northwest coast warfare to the period between ad
200 and ad 500, when the post-glacial sea level had stabilised
and modern vegetation patterns become established.
In many small-scale human societies, inter-group con¬‚ict is
more restrained than on the northwest coast. The anthropol-
ogist W. E. H. Stanner witnessed a ˜large-scale ¬ght™ between
two Australian Aboriginal groups in 1932. The men were
arranged in two parties, one painted with white, the other
with yellow pigment. They stood in two irregular lines, about
sixty paces apart. Women ran into the midst of the combat to
give their men further weapons. Despite the ˜anger, challenge
and derision™ on both sides, there was also control. Only light
duelling spears were in use. ˜I saw one powerful aborigine, on
what seemed the weaker side, run abruptly from the middle
of the ¬ght to wrestle ¬ercely with supporters to gain posses-
sion of the heavy, iron-bladed spears. They would not yield
them, and sought to pacify him™ (Stanner 1960: 65). Towards
sunset, the battle ceased ˜and some of the antagonists began
to fraternise . . . No one had been mortally hurt though many
had painful ¬‚esh wounds™ (66). Several weeks later, Stanner
attended an initiation ceremony. Both sides to the dispute were
Order and anarchy
148
present. Even though they were ˜at violent enmity . . . [the]
bad feeling had been suppressed, after the aboriginal fashion,
for a necessary tribal affair™ (67). Stanner™s vivid account gives
an impression of the delicate counterbalancing of violence and
peace that Aureli, Cords and Van Schaik™s argument predicts
(for a similar account of regulated con¬‚ict among the Yukpa
of Venezuela, see Halbmayer 2001: 63). I therefore agree with
Randall McGuire™s review of warfare among the Pueblos of
the southwest United States: ˜People are not by nature either
peaceful or warlike; some conditions lead to war, others do
not™ (McGuire 2002: 141).

¨
h ow p rotot y pi c a l i s yan o m a m o wa r fa r e ?
Evidence for the ¬‚exibility and situational aptness of warfare
calls the typicality of the Yanomam¨ into question. Chagnon™s
o
depiction of the Yanomami came under intense scrutiny after
the publication of Patrick Tierney™s book Darkness in El
Dorado (Tierney 2000). This book renewed debate on the ˜nat-
uralness™ of warfare in simple human societies and highlighted
a serious debate between sociobiology and cultural anthropol-
ogy. Tierney, a journalist who had worked in the South Ameri-
can rain forest, interviewed anthropologists, missionaries and
others who were familiar with Chagnon™s work among the
Yanomami. He noted that Chagnon™s supervisor believed in
the existence of genes for ˜leadership™ or ˜innate ability™ (Neel
1980). James Neel had argued that, in small-scale societies,
male carriers of these genes would gain access to a dispropor-
tionate share of the available females, thus reproducing their
own genes more frequently than less ˜innately able™ males.
Tierney claimed Chagnon™s work has been directed toward
portraying the Yanomam¨ as exactly the kind of originary
o
human society envisaged by Neel, displaying a Hobbesian
Warfare, biology and culture 149
state of savagery (cf. Chagnon 1988: 990). Tierney claims
Chagnon had ˜recooked™ his data to ¬t sociobiological predic-
tions and deliberately fomented con¬‚icts between Yanomami
as, for example, during Timothy Asch™s ¬lms The feast and
The ax ¬ght, where (he alleges) arti¬cial villages were used
for sets (but see Biella 2000). Not only was Chagnon™s work
exploited by Venezuelan politicians and gold miners to jus-
tify massacres of Yanomami and expropriation of their land,
Chagnon himself joined forces with corrupt politicians to gain
control of Yanomami lands for illegal gold mining and con-
tinued anthropological access.
News of Tierney™s book Darkness in El Dorado circulated,
before its publication, through an email that Terry Turner
and Leslie Sponsel sent to Louise Lamphere, President of the
American Anthropological Association in late August 2000.
The email was rapidly disseminated across the Internet. I will
not try to give a comprehensive review here of the Yanomam¨ o
debate, but focus on issues of direct relevance to this
chapter.

Sociobiology and cultural anthropology
The vehemence of Turner and Sponsel™s email is an expres-
sion of a current debate in the United States between socio-
biologists and cultural anthropologists. Among the most out-
spoken critics of cultural anthropology are the evolution-
ary psychologists Lida Cosmides and John Tooby (Cos-
mides, Tooby and Barkow 1992), who argue the human
mind is endowed with complex, genetically determined skills

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