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A Call to Arms (Paperback)

The Day War was Invented

Ancient History > Prehistory > European Prehistory

By Anne Lehoërff
Imprint: Sidestone Press
Pages: 226
ISBN: 9789464261042
Published: 22nd September 2022
Casemate UK Academic

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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.


The French edition of A CALL TO ARMS was awarded the Verdun World Peace Center History Prize in 2018.

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About Anne Lehoërff

Prof. Dr. Anne Lehoërff is an archaeologist, archaeometallurgist and historian. She has an “agréation” in history, was member of the Ecole française de Rome, and director of the European ‘BOAT 1550’ project (2011-2015) investigating cross-channel navigation between the continent and the British Isles in the second millennium BC. Until 2020 Anne Lehoërff was a university professor at the university of Lille. She is now professor of ‘Archaeology and Patrimony’ at the University of CY Cergy Paris-Université, specialising in the European Bronze Age. She has studied and analysed hundreds of weapons throughout Europe, culminating in this book about the origins of war in Europe from the perspective of the sword. Anne Lehoërff continues to work on the Bronze Age, and more generally on European Protohistory from the Neolithic to the Iron Age.
Recent books:
    2021: Dictionnaire amoureux de l’archéologie, Paris, Plon, 596 p.
    2020: Le Néolithique, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, Collection « Que Sais-je », 128 p.
    2019: L’archéologie, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, Collection « Que Sais-je », 128 p.
    2018: Par les armes. Le jour où l’homme inventa la guerre, Paris, Belin
    2017: (éd.), Movement, Exchange and Identity in Europe in the 2nd and 1st Millennia BC. Beyond Frontiers, Oxford, Oxbow Books, 2017 [with Marc Talon], 304 p.
    2016 : Préhistoires d’Europe. De Neandertal à Vercingétorix. –40 000/–52, Paris, Belin, 608 p.
    2012 (dir.) : Beyond Horizon. Societies of the Channel and North Sea 3500 years ago, Paris, Somogy, [with the collaboration of Jean Bourgeois, Peter Clark, Marc talon].

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