Recent criticisms of the use of historically and ethnographically recorded conflicts as models for warfare in prehistoric times force archaeologists to reexamine assumptions about the frequency, severity, and effects of intergroup fighting. In eastern North America, skeletons of victims and palisaded settlements—the only information consistently available on intergroup hostilities—indicate that the prevalence of conflicts varied greatly over time and space. Occasionally the attacks, typically ambushes of small numbers of people, cumulatively resulted in numerous casualties. Variation in palisade strength is consistent with the organizational structure and warrior mobilization potential of late prehistoric societies in different parts of the Eastern Woodlands.
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