The Incredible Story Behind Humanity's First Murder - 430,000 Years Ago

In Spain, archaeologists have laid their hands on the oldest homicide known to this day. Even though the motive of the murder remains unclear, we nevertheless know how the killer went about attacking his victim.

Murder stories are not new. Despite our society being the usual scene of varied, rather violent acts, they are not the prerogative of modernity.

Small murders between ancestors

430,000 years ago on the Atapuerca commune in Spain, an altercation between two individuals seems to have given rise to the first murder in the history of humankind. It’s the conclusion that a team of experts have come to, who have found, in a cave among 28 skeletons belonging to deceased humans, a skull showing traces of injuries of around 2 centimetres in size above the left eye.

According to a new study published in the revue PLoS, the archaeologists who have studied this skull have named it ‘Cranium 17’, thinking its owner was hit several times on the head as if someone had deliberately wanted to kill them. ‘It seems to be a case of fatal violence between two people’ explains the professor Nohemi Sala, co-author of this study and professor at the Spanish university of Complutense.

According to experts, the two fractures found on the skull correspond with two successive blows carried out with the same weapon. A violent act that nonetheless doesn’t seem to surprise Nohemi Sala, who informs us that acts of aggression have evidently been a part of humankind since the dawn of time.

An ancient practice of several millennia

‘Intentional violence between people has been frequent behaviour among humans for at least 430,000 years. It is thus certainly the same for the care given to the sick, and likewise the same for the care given to the dead. After all, we haven’t changed our habits that much in 500,000 years’, maintains Nohemi Sala, who nonetheless cannot tell us anything about what motivated the crime.

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