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Early hunter-gatherer societies maintained a simple lifestyle, with small groups and no formal settlement areas. Over time, such groups became more complex. With increased complexity and a more sedentary lifestyle came greater instances of violence, although it probably remained local and often was limited to individuals. Archaeological evidence seems to indicate that true war arose much later, when increasingly large populations settled in one place and assumed a stratified style of rule. Hence, the drive toward war did not occur solely out of stressors such as environmental change or limited resources. Instead, a cultural shift may have served as the impetus for true war. This entry describes the characteristics and history of hunter-gatherer societies, examining archaeological evidence that points to egalitarian, sharing societies or to ...

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