Evidence for Interpersonal Violence or Human Sacrifice? The Case Study of Amato, ACARí Valley, Peru

by Howell, Britteny Marie

Abstract (Summary)
Human decapitation of the South Coast of Peru can be interpreted in a number of ways, including ancestor worship, ritual sacrifice, trophies of battle, or raiding. A literature review of Nasca archaeology precedes an analysis of the newly excavated Early Intermediate Period site of Amato, in the Acar’ Valley, Peru, which has potential to assist in determining the nature of early South Coast decapitations. This study assesses remains (n=37) recovered during the 2005 field season at Amato. Thirty-six human skeletons are missing their skulls and at least the first two cervical vertebrae, but otherwise, the integrity of skeletal articulations suggests primary burial. Cutmark evidence on the remaining cervical vertebrae is fully consistent with decapitation. This analysis indicates that the age and sex distribution is not consistent with the war trophy or the ancestor worship hypotheses, but suggests instead that the remains are victims of a violent raid or ritual sacrifice.
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:early intermediate period decapitation mass burial trophy heads nasca


Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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