Meaghan Dyer

Researchers take a whack at synthetic skulls to recreate prehistoric violence

Violence played a big role in the lives of prehistoric people, but exactly how violence occurred has been more of a mystery. To find out, scientists used replicas of the Thames beater, a wooden club that seems to have been a popular weapon during the Neolithic, to hit synthetic skulls, Smithsonian reports. Until recently, scientists had to smash the bones of animal carcasses or human cadavers in order to research fractures. But recently developed polyurethane skulls allowed researchers to smash bones while avoiding ethical issues. The resulting fractures resemble the pattern seen in cranial remains dating to the Neolithic, which allows scientists to get a better picture of violence during prehistory.

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