Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-j4fss Total loading time: 1.008 Render date: 2022-09-24T22:47:55.159Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Part III - Intimate and Collective Violence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2020

Garrett G. Fagan
Pennsylvania State University
Linda Fibiger
University of Edinburgh
Mark Hudson
Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte, Germany
Matthew Trundle
University of Auckland
Get access


Image of the first page of this content. For PDF version, please use the ‘Save PDF’ preceeding this image.'
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Bibliographic Essay

For a sound evaluation of the Early Neolithic mass violence sites of the Linearbandkeramik (LBK) a basic knowledge of this archaeological culture and its funerary customs is necessary. A recent volume touches upon many aspects of the LBK, based on a vast amount of data and multidisciplinary analyses of burials: Bickle, Penny and Whittle, Alasdair (eds.), The First Farmers of Central Europe. Diversity in LBK Lifeways (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013). The known funerary ritual within cemeteries and settlements is explicitly examined in the following works: Nieszery, Norbert, Linearbandkeramische Gräberfelder in Bayern (Espelkamp: Marie L. Leidorf, 1995); Trautmann, Iris, The Significance of Cremations in Early Neolithic Communities in Central Europe (Tübingen: Universität Tübingen, 2006); Pechtl, Joachim and Hofmann, Daniela, ‘Irregular Burials in the LBK – All or None?’, in Müller-Scheeßel, Nils (ed.), ‘Irreguläre’ Bestattungen in der Urgeschichte: Norm, Ritual, Strafe … ? (Bonn: Habelt, 2013), pp. 123–38; Hofmann, Daniela, ‘The Burnt, the Whole and the Broken: Funerary Variability in the Linearbandkeramik’, in Devlin, Zoë L. and Graham, Emma-Jayne (eds.), Death Embodied. Archaeological Approaches to the Treatment of the Corpse (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2015), pp. 109–28.

Concerning the massacre and mass violence sites, it is advisable to always consult the original analytical papers, as superficial secondary treatments sometimes tend to misrepresent certain aspects. The core texts are as follows. For Talheim: Wahl, Joachim and König, Hans Günter, ‘Anthropologisch-traumatologische Untersuchung der menschlichen Skelettreste aus dem bandkeramischen Massengrab bei Talheim, Kreis Heilbronn’, Fundberichte aus Baden-Württemberg 12 (1987), 65186; and Wahl, Joachim and Trautmann, Iris, ‘The Neolithic Massacre at Talheim: A Pivotal Find in Conflict Archaeology’, in Schulting, Rick and Fibiger, Linda (eds.), Sticks, Stones, and Broken Bones: Neolithic Violence in a European Perspective (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 77100. For Asparn/Schletz: Teschler-Nicola, Maria et al., ‘Anthropologische Spurensicherung: Die traumatischen und postmortalen Veränderungen an den linearbandkeramischen Skelettresten von Asparn/Schletz’, Archäologie Österreichs 7 (1996), 412; Teschler-Nicola, Maria, Prohaska, Thomas and Wild, Eva Maria, ‘Der Fundkomplex von Asparn/Schletz (Niederösterreich) und seine Bedeutung für den aktuellen Diskurs endlinearbandkeramischer Phänomene in Zentraleuropa’, in Piek, Jürgen and Terberger, Thomas (eds.), Frühe Spuren der Gewalt – Schädelverletzungen und Wundversorgung an prähistorischen Menschenresten aus interdisziplinärer Sicht (Schwerin: Landesamt für Kultur und Denkmalpflege, 2006), pp. 6176; Maria Teschler-Nicola, ‘The Early Neolithic Site Asparn/Schletz (Lower Austria): Anthropological Evidence of Interpersonal Violence’, in Schulting and Fibiger (eds.), Sticks, Stones, pp. 101–20. For Schöneck-Kilianstädten: Meyer, Christian et al., ‘The Massacre Mass Grave of Schöneck-Kilianstädten Reveals New Insights into Collective Violence in Early Neolithic Central Europe’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112.36 (2015), 11217–22. For Halberstadt: Meyer et al., Christian, ‘Early Neolithic Executions Indicated by Clustered Cranial Trauma in the Mass Grave of Halberstadt’, Nature Communications 9 (2018), 2472. Mainly based on site-specific papers, several comparative studies have focused upon LBK deviant mass burial: Wild, Eva Maria et al., ‘Neolithic Massacres: Local Skirmishes or General Warfare in Europe?’, Radiocarbon 46 (2004), 377–85; Meyer et al., Christian, ‘Mass Graves of the LBK: Patterns and Peculiarities’, in Whittle, Alasdair and Bickle, Penny (eds.), Early Farmers: The View from Archaeology and Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 307–25; Zeeb-Lanz, Andrea and Haack, Fabian, ‘Diversity in Ritual Practice at the End of the LBK’, in Amkreutz, Luc et al. (eds.), Something Out of the Ordinary? Interpreting Diversity in the Early Neolithic Linearbandkeramik and Beyond (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2016), pp. 247–79.

A wider perspective on Neolithic violence, conflict and warfare, in geographical and chronological terms, is presented by, among others, Christensen, Jonas, ‘Warfare in the European Neolithic’, Acta Archaeologica 75 (2004), 129–56; Brian Ferguson, R., ‘The Prehistory of War and Peace in Europe and the Near East’, in Fry, Douglas P. (ed.), War, Peace, and Human Nature: The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 191240; Heath, Julian Maxwell, Warfare in Neolithic Europe: An Archaeological and Anthropological Analysis (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2017); Fibiger, Linda, ‘Conflict and Violence in the Neolithic of Central-Northern Europe’, in Fernández-Götz, Manuel and Roymans, Nico (eds.), Conflict Archaeology: Materialities of Collective Violence from Prehistory to Late Antiquity (London: Routledge, 2018), pp. 1321.

Monographs on the general origin and prehistory of warfare are available from different authors, who naturally have slightly differing views. An influential work is Keeley, Lawrence H., War before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). Another example is LeBlanc, Steven A. and Register, Katherine E., Constant Battles: Why We Fight (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2003).

Bibliographic Essay

The most comprehensive overview of the archaeology of Iron Age Britain has been written by Sir Cunliffe, Barry: Iron Age Communities in Britain: An Account of England, Scotland and Wales from the Seventh Century BC until the Roman Conquest (London: Routledge, 2009). This volume has gone through several editions, reflecting the increase in archaeological evidence because of the expansion of contractor archaeology and the introduction of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. These developments have provided a wealth of data, and because scientific dating and other techniques are now routinely employed by contractors, our understanding of this period has fundamentally changed over the last decade, particularly with respect to funerary practices, population mobility and the distribution of material culture. For example, new data from Kent has revealed the first evidence for long-distance migrants in Iron Age Britain: see McKinley, Jacqueline I. et al., Cliffs End Farm, Isle of Thanet, Kent. A Mortuary and Ritual Site of the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon Period with Evidence for Long-Distance Maritime Mobility (Salisbury: Wessex Archaeology, 2015). Within the literature there is also a recognition that the evidence should be placed within a wider European context, with the work by Haselgrove, C. C Pope, R. E., The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the Near Continent (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2007) and Haselgrove, C. C. and Moore, T., The Later Iron Age in Britain and Beyond (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2007) exemplifying this.

Violence as a powerful force in Iron Age communities is a perspective that was for the most part eschewed until the early 2000s, despite Sharples’s key 1991 paper (Sharples, Niall, ‘Warfare in the Iron Age of Wessex’, Scottish Archaeological Review 8 (1991), 7989). Indeed, works dealing with martial equipment and warrior burials were sparse (Collis, John, ‘Burials with Weapons in Iron Age Britain’, Germania 51 (1973), 121–33). Over the last fifteen years scholars have increasingly recognised the crucial role it played in how these societies interacted with one another, influenced social organisation, and the use of hill forts; this is illustrated by S. James, ‘A Bloodless Past: The Pacification of Early Iron Age Britain’, in Haselgrove and Pope (eds.), Earlier Iron Age, pp. 160–73, and Armit, Ian, ‘Hillforts at War: From Maiden Castle to Taniwaha Pa’, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 73 (2007), 2538. Uniquely, Melanie Giles has also focused on the socio-cultural meanings of weapons in these communities, highlighting how they contribute to the creation and maintenance of warrior identities: ‘Seeing Red: The Aesthetics of Martial Objects in the British and Irish Iron Age’, in Garrow, D, Gosden, C. and Hill, J. D. (eds.), Rethinking Celtic Art (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2008), pp. 7899.

The period has been characterised as having a non-recoverable burial rite, but the new data sets, scientific dating and other techniques are challenging this concept, most recently by Booth, T. J and colleagues: ‘New Evidence for Diverse Secondary Burial Practices in Iron Age Britain: A Histological Case Study’, Journal of Archaeological Science 67 (2016), 1424. A new overview, Death and Burial in Iron Age Britain, by Harding, D. W. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016) reveals that complex social identities were expressed in the funerary treatment of humans and animals in this period.

In contrast, the Romano-British period has extensive and well-phased data sets that have been used to construct the life course, gender and status hierarchies and other aspects of identity, with Pearce’s ‘Status and Burial’ chapter in Millett, M, Revell, L and Moore, A (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016) providing an overview of these works. The military has been a focus of study since antiquarian times, particularly weaponry and equipment, an overview of which is found in Bishop’s ‘Weapon and Military Equipment’ chapter in Allason-Jones, L. (ed.), Artefacts in Roman Britain: Their Purpose and Use (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). However, only a minority of work has focused on the military use of violence against indigenous communities, with James, S. exploring this theme extensively in his publications, for example in Rome and the Sword: How Warriors and Weapons Shaped Roman History (London: Thames & Hudson, 2011).

Greater acknowledgement that the military community was not solely composed of soldiers has been brought to the fore by Greene, in her chapter ‘Female Networks in the Military Communities of the Roman West: A View from the Vindolanda Tablets’ in Hemelrijk, E. A and Woolf, G. (eds.), Women and Roman City in the Latin West (Leiden: Brill, 2013), which built on the earlier work of A. Goldsworthy and I. Haynes, The Roman Army as Community, Including Papers of a Conference Held at Birkbeck College, University of London on 11–12 January, 1997, Journal of Roman Archaeology, supplementary series 34 (1999).

Bibliographic Essay

For overviews of early Egypt and the role of violence in the society see the following: Hendrickx, S., Analytical Bibliography of the Prehistory and the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt and Northern Sudan (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1995); Redford, D., A History of Ancient Egypt (Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2006); and Spencer, A. J., Early Egypt: The Rise of Civilization in the Nile Valley (London: British Museum Press, 1993). Violence lay at the centre of the pharaonic state and this is well expressed by Köhler, E. C., ‘History or Ideology? New Reflections on the Narmer Palette and the Nature of Foreign Relations in Pre- and Early Dynastic Egypt’, in van den Brink, E. C. M. (ed.), Egypt and the Levant: Interrelations from the 4th through the early 3rd Millennium B.C.E. (London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2002). Violence also mediated relationships between social groups. Lorenzi-Cioldi, F., Les Représentations des groupes dominants et dominés: collections et agrégats (Grenoble: PUG, 2002) and Khodzhash, S., ‘The Image of Pharaoh in Egyptian Glyptics’, in Ancient Egypt and Kush (Cairo, 1993) present the Pharaoh as war leader and protector of the state and its people. The Pharaoh played a crucial role as symbolic defender of the state and protector against foreigners. Thus, Hall, E. S, Pharaoh Smites his Enemies (Munich: Deutscher Kunst Verlag, 1986). Similarly, Booth, C, The Role of Foreigners in Ancient Egypt (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2005) explains how foreigners played important roles in Egyptian identity formation. The significant role of foreigners in Egyptian identity formation, architecture and arts can be seen in works such as Valbelle’s, D. Les Neufs arcs: l’égyptien et les étrangers (Paris: Armand Colin, 1990), where military violence is shown to be an important marker of power.

Imperialism and the violence inherent therein are well demonstrated by Zibelius-Chen, K., Die ägyptische Expansion nach Nubien (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1988). War was central to Egyptian security, identity and national projection, as is explained by Gilbert, G. P, Weapons, Warriors and Warfare in Early Egypt, BAR International Series 1208 (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2004) and Schulman, A., ‘Siege Warfare in Ancient Egypt’, Natural History 73 .3 (1964); also see Morris, E., The Architecture of Imperialism (Leiden: Brill, 2005) for Egyptian images of their expansion and empire.

With regard to the role of violence in maintaining order see Redford, D., ‘Ma’at’, in Orlin, E (ed.), The Routledge Encyclopaedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religions (London and New York: Routledge, 2016), pp. 553–4. Several works provide good discussions of violent punishments in Egypt, including the following: McDowell, A. G., ‘Crime and Punishment’, in Redford, D. B (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Ancient Egypt, 3 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), vol. i, pp. 315–20; Leahy, A., ‘Death by Fire in Ancient Egypt’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 27 (1984), 199206; Holm, T., ‘The Fiery Furnace in the Book of Daniel and the Ancient Near East’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.1 (2008).

Finally, violence was also a crucial part of Egyptian belief systems and the world of myth. Thus, several works focus on the role of the god Seth, who challenged the order of both the divine and human spheres, including Te Velde’s, H. Seth, God of Confusion (Leiden: Brill, 1967), and E. Cruz-Uribe’s ‘Seth’, in Orlin (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religions. For an overview of the Egyptian afterlife and violence see Hornung, E., The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999).

Bibliographic Essay

Little thought per se has been given to women as agents of violence in antiquity, let alone to the role of the royal harem as the site of revenge-fuelled violence and murder. McHardy’s, FionaWomen’s Influence on Revenge in Ancient Greece’, in McHardy, F. and Marshall, E. (eds.), Women’s Influence on Classical Civilization (London: Routledge, 2004), pp. 92114 is an appropriate starting place for Greek conceptions of women and revenge. Rollinger, Robert, ‘Herodotus, Human Violence and the Ancient Near East’, in Karageorghis, V. and Taifacos, I. (eds.), The World of Herodotus (Nicosia: University of Cyprus Press, 2004), pp. 121–50 systematically explores the concept of violence in the Histories and focuses, therefore, on some female acts, but not exclusively so. Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg strongly advocated the notion that images of female violence among Persian women were concoctions of a Greek Orientalist imagination; see particularly her Exit Atossa: Images of Women in Greek Historiography on Persia’, in Cameron, A. and Kuhrt, A. (eds.), Images of Women in Antiquity (London: Routledge, 1983), pp. 2033, and Decadence in the Empire of Decadence in the Sources? From Source to Synthesis: Ctesias’, in Sancisi-Weerdenburg, H. (ed.), Achaemenid History I. Sources, Structures and Synthesis (Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1987), pp. 3345. By and large Brosius, Maria follows the same tack in her Women in Ancient Persia (559–331 BC) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). For a different approach, however, which looks for a reality behind the stories, see Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd and Robson, James, Ctesias’ History of Persia: Tales of the Orient (London: Routledge, 2010) and Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd, King and Court in Ancient Persia 559–331 BCE (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013), pp. 96122.

An investigation into ancient queenship and the role of royal women in the courts of the ancient Near East quickly reveals the opportunities taken by palace women to secure power and position. See, for instance, Marsman, Hennie J., Women in Ugarit and Israel (Leiden: Brill, 2003) and Solvang, Elna, A Woman’s Place is in the House. Royal Women of Judah and their Involvement in the House of David (London: Bloomsbury, 2003). Melville’s, Sarah The Role of Naqia/Zakutu in Sargonid Politics (Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 1999) investigates the role of the king’s mother in Assyrian society. On royal women and succession issues see especially the following: de Vaux, Ronald, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 1961); Dodson, Aiden and Hilton, Dyan, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt (London; Thames & Hudson, 2005); Novotny, J. R., ‘Daughters and Sisters of Neo-Hittite and Aramaean Rulers in the Assyrian Harem’, Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies 36 (2010), 174–84; Novotny, J. R. and Singletary, J., ‘Family Ties: Assurbanipal’s Family Revisited’, in Luukko, M., Svärd, S. and Mattila, R. (eds.), Of God(s), Trees, Kings, and Scholars: Neo-Assyrian and Related Studies in Honour of Simo Parpola (Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 2009), pp. 167–77.

For a fuller understanding of how royal women employ agency and power within court circles see Anderson, Mary, Hidden Power: The Palace Eunuchs of Imperial China (Buffalo, OH: Prometheus Books, 1990), Holdsworth, May and Courtauld, Caroline, The Forbidden City: The Great Within (Beijing: Forbidden City Publishing House, 1995), and Rawski, Evelyn S., The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998). Of particular importance in cross-cultural studies is Pierce’s, Leslie The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), while Duindam, Jeroen, Dynasties: A Global History of Power, 1300–1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 87155 provides some fruitful explorations of several harem societies in a series of eastern and western courts.

For violence in the ancient Near East see especially Jacobs, Sandra, The Body as Property: Physical Disfigurement in Biblical Law (London: Bloomsbury, 2014) as well as Bahrani, Zainab, Rituals of War: The Body and Violence in Mesopotamia (New York: Zone Books, 2008). Crouch’s, C. L. War and Ethics in the Ancient Near East. Military Violence in Light of Cosmology and History (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2009) explores the biblical background of violence in a wider Near Eastern setting. An excellent discussion by Hans van Wees explores physical violence to war victims, including women: Genocide in the Ancient World’, in Bloxham, D. and Moses, A. D. (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 239–58. The theme is explored too by Tetlow, E. M., Women, Crime, and Punishment in Ancient Law and Society, vol. i (New York: Continuum, 2004) and, with an eye to modern conflict, see Gaca, Kathy, ‘Girls, Women, and the Significance of Sexual Violence in Ancient Warfare’, in Heineman, E. D. (ed.), Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), pp. 7388.

Bibliographic Essay

The scholarship on violence against women in the Greek world is limited, although it is growing in impact. Hunter, Virginia J., ‘Gossip and the Politics of Reputation in Classical Athens’, Phoenix 44.4 (1990), 299325 and Roy, James, ‘An Alternative Sexual Morality for Classical Athenians’, Greece and Rome 44.1 (1997), 1122 both explore issues beneath the surface of violence, including issues of reputation and honour. Clark, Patricia, ‘Women, Slaves, and the Hierarchies of Domestic Violence: The Family of Saint Augustine’, in Murnaghan, S. and Joshel, S. R. (eds.), Women and Slaves in Greco-Roman Culture (London: Routledge, 1998), pp. 109–29 explores the rich Late Antique evidence for domestic abuse pertaining to Monica, the mother of St Augustine, while Dossey, Leslie, ‘Wife-Beating and Manliness in Late Antiquity’, Past & Present 199 (2008), 340 expands the focus but still deals, predominantly, with later Roman evidence.

It is Fisher’s, NickViolence, Masculinity and the Law in Classical Athens’, in Foxhall, L. and Salmon, J. (eds.), When Men Were Men: Masculinity, Power and Identity in Classical Antiquity (London: Routledge, 1998), pp. 6897, which first highlighted the probability of finding evidence for violence against women in the Greek sources and, subsequently, Llewellyn-Jones’s, LloydDomestic Violence in Ancient Greece’ in Lambert, S. (ed.), Sociable Man: Essays in Greek Social Behaviour in Honour of Nick Fisher (Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2011), pp. 231–66 was written with Fisher’s work in mind and remains the fullest treatment of this subject to date.

The violent world of ancient Athens has been explored in two excellent studies by Danielle, Allen: ‘Angry Bees, Wasps and Jurors: The Symbolic Politics of Orgē in Athens’, in Braund, S. and Most, G. (eds.), Ancient Anger. Perspectives from Homer to Galen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 76–98, and The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000). The honour-shame nexus of the Greeks is best explained by Cairns, Douglas, Aidos: The Psychology and Ethics of Honour and Shame in Ancient Greek Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993). Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd studies the realities and meanings of veiling in the Greek world in Aphrodite’s Tortoise: The Veiled Woman of Ancient Greece (Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2003).

It is important to frame work on ancient concepts of domestic violence within current methodologies for exploring and understanding abuse, and to that end the following studies are invaluable: Dobash, Rebecca and Dobash, Russell P., Rethinking Violence against Women (London: SAGE, 1998); Hearn, Jeff, The Violences of Men (London: SAGE, 1998); Keeling, June and Masoon, Tom, Domestic Violence: A Multi-Professional Approach for Healthcare Practitioners (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2008).

Given the paucity of the ancient evidence, anthropological studies have a particularly important role to play in the methodological rationale of the study of ancient domestic violence. Campbell, J. K., Honour, Family, and Patronage: A Study of Institutions and Moral Values in a Greek Mountain Community (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964), and Gilmore, David (ed.), Honour and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean, AAA special publications series 22 (Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association, 1987) both explore ideas of machismo and honour.

Much important work forces on ‘traditional’ societies of the Middle East, India and Asia. See especially: Chowdhry, Prem, The Veiled Women: Shifting Gender Equations in Rural Haryana 1880–1990 (Oxford and New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994); Broude, Gwen J., Marriage, Family and Relationships: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopaedia (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1994); Oldenburgh, Veena T., Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime (Oxford and New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002); Chana, Pamal J., Domestic Violence: The Impact of Culture on Experiences of Asian (Indian Subcontinent) Women (Norwich: University of East Anglia Press, 2005); Hossain, Sara and Welchman, Lynn (eds.), Honour Crimes, Paradigms and Violence against Women (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Jafri, Amir H., Honour Killing: Dilemma, Ritual, Understanding (Oxford and Lahore: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Bibliographic Essay

Lintott, A., Violence in Ancient Rome, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), originally published in 1968 and only slightly revised in its second edition, remains fundamental. Lintott’s exploration of the realities of Roman gangs is part of a larger study of the nature of violence in the city of Rome which examines Roman habits of mind as well as the recurring practice of violence in Roman society. Nippel, W., Public Order in Republican Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) reconsiders many of the same issues. The regulation and repression of violence is often his focus, and his study covers both the republic and the empire. To readers possessing German, Nippel’s more detailed Aufruhr und Polizei in der römischen Republik (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1988) can be recommended. On the creation, organisation, deployment and historical ramifications of Clodius’ gangs, the most extensive account is to be found in Tatum, W. J., The Patrician Tribune: Publius Clodius Pulcher (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), which includes a discussion of Roman collegia and their role in Roman society. On the motivation and organisation of popular demonstrations, many of which became violent, Vanderbroeck, P. J. J., Popular Leadership and Collective Behavior in the Late Roman Republic (ca. 80–50 B.C.) (Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1987) assembles the ancient evidence and offers a lucid analysis. On Roman neighbourhoods and their complexities, the best account is now H. I. Flower, The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the Garden: Religion at the Roman Street Corner (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017).

Bibliographic Essay

Violence as an independent topic has received relatively infrequent attention in the context of early China, although there have been quite a few studies on it in later times. By far the most useful reference for locating Western-language research on violence in all periods of Chinese history is Barend ter Haar’s ‘Violence in Chinese Culture’,, accessed 3 July 2019. The best study is Lewis’s, Mark Edward Sanctioned Violence in Early China (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1999). Here Lewis employs a broad conception of violence and draws on an array of sources to examine social development during the Warring States period in terms of violence. Haar, Barend ter has published articles on violence in various periods, including ‘Rethinking “Violence” in Chinese Culture’, in Aijmer, Göran and Abbink, Jon (eds.), Meanings of Violence: A Cross Cultural Perspective (Oxford: Berg, 2000). A notable article on the hermeneutics of the Annals and its commentaries is Van Auken, Newell Ann, ‘Killings and Assassinations in the Spring and Autumn as Records of Judgment’, Asia Major n.s. 27.1 (2014), 131.

Due to the paucity of secondary studies, the best way to examine the role of violence often remains direct engagement with the texts. Many scholars have translated the Analects, a text whose brevity belies its complexity. D. C. Lau’s translation, often reprinted and republished by Penguin and others, is a worthy balance of strictness, readability and sophistication. A much needed complete and new translation of the Zuo Commentary is Durrant, Stephen, Wai-ye, Li and Schaberg, David, Zuo Tradition / Zuozhuan: Commentary on the ‘Spring and Autumn Annals’ (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017), while a new translation of The Book of Lord Shang by Yuri Pines was published by Columbia University Press in 2017.

The Art of War has been the subject of innumerable books, many of which are aimed at popular audiences. For a notable translation which makes use of an excavated manuscript version of the text, see Ames, Roger T. (trans.), Sun-tzu: The Art of Warfare. The First English Translation Incorporating the Recently Discovered Yin-ch’üeh-shan Texts (New York: Ballantine, 1993). For a recent scholarly study, see Derek, M. C. Yuen, Deciphering Sun Tzu: How to Read ‘The Art of War’ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). One issue related to violence that has received attention concerns the philosophical questions around the acceptability of military force in various periods; see, for example, the articles in Lorge, Peter A. (ed.), Debating War in Chinese History (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

The limited number of scholarly treatments of violence means that interested readers may wish to seek information in broader studies of Chinese history. The best overviews of the early periods remain Loewe, Michael and Shaughnessy, Edward L. (eds.), The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC (Cambridge, 1999), and Twitchett, Denis and Loewe, Michael (eds.), The Cambridge History of China, vol. i, The Ch’in and Han Empires, 221 BC–AD 220 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986). There is a readable synthetic treatment of the foundational imperial period in Lewis, Mark Edward, The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2007).

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats