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One day, sometime around 1700 BC, a bronzesmith made the first sword. This marked a technological turning point, giving rise to an arms race that has never since ceased. Soon, over a vast area between the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of weapons were manufactured. They were used in combat, then laid to rest, whole or broken, often during complex rituals that are still hard for us to understand.
Through the sword, the Bronze Age brought war into being. The warrior became an important figure. Societies were transformed, and came to revolve politically and economically around warfare. Western Europe developed new social structures, a new kind of civilisation involving neither towns, nor writing.
By tackling the subject ‘a call to arms’, Anne Lehoërff investigates war’s long-term development. She focusses on oral societies which have for a long while remained poorly understood, passed over by a historical tradition that saw the world of Classical Antiquity in a different light to that of ‘primitive’ peoples. But our European ancestors have their own history, and this book tells it.
Anne Lehoërff is Professor of Archaeology at CY Cergy Paris University, and she presides the ‘Conseil National de la Recherche Archéologique’.
The French edition of A CALL TO ARMS was awarded the Verdun World Peace Center History Prize in 2018.
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