By: Daria Draskovic
In the 1960s, 61 human skeletons were excavated in the Nile Valley, and were long thought to be the casualties of the world’s earliest war. However, these skeletons, which are more than 13,000 years old, have helped to prove that the warfare was caused by climate change.
According to NASA, “Climate change is a change in the usual weather found in a place.” Climate change does not necessarily occur because of human intervention, it can naturally occur as well.
According to the journal Scientific Reports, after reexamining the remains, it was found that instead of being killed in one big massacre, these people were victims of recurrent violence taking place over several years. Scientists now think that this fighting was triggered by immense climatic and environmental changes.
Researchers found many healed wounds on the skeletons that had not been noticed in previous studies, suggesting multiple raids and fights. This long-term violence was inflicted indiscriminately, upon men, women, and children, with 40% of the individuals having healed and unhealed injuries. Isabelle Crevecoeur, a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, stated that the projectile nature of the wounds showed that the violence wasn’t between members of the same community.
Although, due to a lack of written documents, scientists cannot know for sure what the cause of the conflict was, they believe it was caused by climate change. They think that the conflict arose when rival groups were forced to compete for food and resources limited by severe climatic changes. These changes occurred 11,000 to 22,000 years ago, during the last glacial maximum, where ice sheets over the Earth changed the climate drastically.
Crevecouer says that as the very dry climate due to these changes drove people towards the river, the Nile Valley became a refuge.Because of the abundance of resources and food in the valley compared to other places, groups of people began competing for survival.
Thanks to new technology and scientific advancements, the cause of the first interpersonal violence in the world has now been found to be climate change. As science progresses further, hopefully more information about this fascinating group will arise.
Hunt, Katie. “Earliest known war driven by climate change, researchers say.” CNN, 27 May 2021,
NASA. “What Is Climate Change?” NASA, 14 May 2014, https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-climate-change-k4.html.