Anat Sci Int DOI 10.



A case study of a high-status human skeleton from Pacopampa in Formative Period Peru
Tomohito Nagaoka • Yuji Seki • Wataru Morita ´ Kazuhiro Uzawa • Diana Aleman Paredes • Daniel Morales Chocano

Received: 19 August 2011 / Accepted: 13 October 2011 Ó Japanese Association of Anatomists 2011

Abstract The Pacopampa site is located in the northern highlands of Peru and is an archaeological site belonging to the Formative Period (2500–1 BC). The excavation of the Pacopampa site yielded unusual human skeletons from the main platform of a ceremonial center of the site during the 2009 field season. The skeletal remains were associated with a pair of gold earplugs, a pair of gold earrings, and shell objects. This specimen is possibly a female aged 20–39 years. Detailed examination of the neurocranium revealed the presence of artificial cranial deformation with decreased cranial length, increased cranial breadth, and lateral bulging of the parietal bones. The estimated stature of this individual was 162 cm, which is about 15 cm higher than that of contemporary females of Pacopampa and about 20–25 cm higher than that of other Formative Period sites in northern Peru. The peculiarity of this individual, detected not only in the cultural artifacts but also in the physical features, is possible evidence for social stratification in the Formative Period.
T. Nagaoka (&) Department of Anatomy, St. Marianna University School of Medicine, 2-16-1 Sugao, Miyamae Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 216-8511, Japan e-mail: Y. Seki National Museum of Ethnology, Suita, Japan W. Morita Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan K. Uzawa Faculty of Human Sciences, University of East Asia, Shimonoseki, Japan ´ D. Aleman Paredes Á D. Morales Chocano Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, Peru

Keywords Artificial cranial deformation Á Bioarchaeology Á Formative Period Á Human skeleton Á Peru

Introduction The Pacopampa site is a Formative Period (2500–1 BC) site in the northern highlands of Peru (Fig. 1). First excavation of this site was conducted by a Peruvian archaeologist, Rafael Larco Hoyle, in 1939. Further excavations made since the mid-twentieth century (e.g., Rosas and Shady 1970) have yielded cultural artifacts related to ritual practices and revealed that the Pacopampa site played an important role as a ceremonial center in the northern highlands. In the 1960s, excavation of the Formative Period site of Kotosh, in the northern highlands, demonstrated that the construction of ceremonial architectures preceded the manufacture of pottery and made an impact on socioeconomic development (Onuki 1998). The construction and renovation of ceremonial architecture required laborers and food supplies, attracted people to the temples, led to greater use of domesticated animals and plants, and hence to greater socioeconomic development (Seki 2006). Further work on ´ ceremonial architecture at Huacaloma and Layzon in the northern highlands has made it clear that renovation activities were important for social integration during the Formative Period. However, social development based on the construction and renovation of ceremonial architecture did have limitations because there is no evidence for social hierarchy at Huacaloma and other sites. This contrasts with the evidence from recent investigations at Kuntur Wasi in the northern highlands. These indicate that social differentiation was based on the long distance trade of precious goods (Inokuchi 2001). From Kuntur Wasi more than seven


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Fig. 2 The no. 2009-C-Ent09-2-H1 skeleton in situ

Fig. 1 Geographical location of the Pacopampa site in the northern highlands of Peru

tombs were unearthed and found to contain gold objects, Ecuadorian shell ornaments, and Bolivian sodalite beads. Moreover, these tombs have a complex, boot-shaped structure and evidence of a fronto-occipital type of cranial deformation associated with cinnabar, which suggests to us that the individuals buried had special roles in society as members of an elite group. To examine the socioeconomic dynamics leading to the rise and development of the Andean civilization, we began new work at an archaeological site with ceremonial architectures similar to those at Kuntur Wasi and Huacaloma, namely the Pacopampa site, which is one of the largest Formative sites in northern highlands of Peru. The first author participated in an interdisciplinary project called the Pacopampa archaeological project during four field seasons (2007–2010) and examined the excavated human skeletal remains (Nagaoka et al. 2009). The most exciting finding was an unusual human skeleton from a ceremonial center of the Pacopampa site. Here we report the features of this specimen from the osteoarchaeological perspectives.

Case report The sample used here is no. 2009-C-Ent09-2-H1, a human skeleton from the Pacopampa site belonging to the

Pacopampa II cultural phase (800–500 BC). During the Pacopampa II, a sunken plaza surrounded by three low platforms was constructed, and the westernmost one was called ‘‘the Central Platform.’’ This may have been the most important religious space. The skeletal remains of the buried individual were found in the Central Platform with a pair of gold earplugs, a pair of gold earrings, and shell objects including a necklace and leg ornaments (Fig. 2). The body was placed in a flexed position, lying on the left side, holding the left humerus with the right hand, and probably with the face directed toward the west. Most of the bones of this individual were well preserved, but the face, pubis, and left humerus were fragmented. Cinnabar and azurite were spread on its skull (red and blue pigments). The use of azurite for blue pigment has not been detected in other burials of Pacopampa nor in other archaeological sites in Peru. Sex determination of this individual was carried out on macroscopic assessment of the pelvic features (Bruzek 2002) and also on the cranial features as a secondary criterion (Walker 2008). The diagnostic features of the greater sciatic notch and composite arch—the broad and symmetric greater sciatic notch and double composite arch— indicate that this individual possibly represents a female. Little projection in the glabellar and nuchal regions and mastoid processes (first or second grades in the Walker system) supports this diagnosis, whereas frontal tuberosity is not prominent and the mental eminence is third grade in the Walker system. The age-at-death estimation of this


A high-status human skeleton

individual conducted based on chronological metamorphosis of the pubic symphysis (Brooks and Suchey 1990) and the auricular surface of the ilium (Lovejoy et al. 1985; Buckberry and Chamberlain 2002) indicates that, because of being fourth stage in the Suchey-Brooks system and third stage both in the Lovejoy system and in the Buckberry and Chamberlain one, this individual was estimated to have been 20–39 years old. The estimated stature was ´ 162.1 cm based on Genoves’ (1967) equations for the maximum length of the tibia (363 mm in the right and 360 mm in the left). Dental caries was observed on an occlusal surface of a lower left second premolar out of 30 teeth. Both the maxilla and mandible were absorbed and reduced, and a periodontal disease was diagnosed on the basis of the observation of a horizontal reduction in alveolar bone height. Detailed examination of the neurocranium further revealed the presence of artificial cranial deformation (ACD). The neurocranium exhibited a vertically flattened occipital bone, but the roundness of the frontal bone was retained (Fig. 3). This cranial vault is characterized by decreased cranial length and increased cranial breadth, and also by lateral bulging of the parietal bones. The maximum cranial length is 154 mm, the maximum cranial breadth is 182 mm, and the cranial index is 118.2.

Discussion The two most commonly described types of ACD are circumferential and fronto-occipital deformation (Clark et al. 2007; Ricci et al. 2008). As for the former, the application of bands or tree bark around the cranial vault elongated the cranial vault in the postero-superior direction. The latter was produced when pads or hard instruments were applied to the frontal or occipital regions. Pressure on the cranial vault restricted the antero-occipital direction of cranial growth, which resulted in decreased cranial length and increased cranial breadth, and occasionally produced lateral bulging of the parietal bones. It is interesting that this individual exhibited evidence of ACD. In the case of Pacopampa, ACD was found only in this burial, not in others (Nagaoka et al. 2009). The features of decreased cranial length, increased cranial breadth, and lateral bulging of the parietal bones are consistent with the diagnostic standards of fronto-occipital deformation (Clark et al. 2007; Ricci et al. 2008) and were similar to the morphological features of the cranial deformation in the Huacaloma skulls (Morimoto and Yoshida 1985). According to Morimoto and Yoshida (1985), this type of deformation had not been found in the Andean regions before their description. The newly excavated cranium from the Pacopampa site is, therefore, a rare additional case of the fronto-occipital type deformation and indicates that the deformation was more wide spread in the northern highlands than expected. Both deformed and non-deformed individuals appeared within the Pacopampa site, and the practice of deformation there was associated with a rich repertoire of grave goods. The central position and the precious offerings all indicate that the individual buried had symbolic importance and belonged to an elite social group (Seki 2010). Moreover, the stratigraphic position of the tomb between the earlier and later phases of construction suggests that it may have held a communal founder or ancestor who conferred sacred power on the Central Platform during the Pacopampa II (Seki 2010). Ortner (2003: 164) demonstrated that ACD has often been a ‘‘physical manifestation of high social status.’’ A combination of osteological and archaeological data implies that the individual was socially different from other burial specimens of the Pacopampa site. The estimated stature of this individual also showed a contrast with those of both females and males from other contemporary burials. The stature is about 15 cm higher than that of contemporary females of Pacopampa (146.7 cm) (Nagaoka et al. 2009) and about 20–25 cm higher than that of other Formative Period sites in northern Peru—Kuntur Wasi (142.0 cm) and Hucaloma (135.0 cm) (Matsumura et al. 1997). Even when compared with males, the stature of this individual is equivalent to or about

Fig. 3 The no. 2009-C-Ent09-2-H1 cranium. a Anterior view, b superior view, c posterior view, d right lateral view, e left lateral view


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5–10 cm higher than that of males from other sites. We do not know whether the difference was related to good nutritional conditions surrounding this individual, unidentified pathological factors (e.g., adeoma of the anterior lobe of the pituitary glands), misclassification of sex, or other reasons. However, the third explanation is the least possible, because this individual is even taller than contemporary males. The accuracy of sex determination based on Bruzek’s method for the greater sciatic notch and composite arch is about 70–90% (Bruzek 2002). The peculiarity of this individual, detected not only in the cultural artifacts but also in the physical features, strongly indicates inequality in the Formative Period societies. Because ACD was customarily carried out during the first month of life (Ricci et al. 2008), it is easily assumed that this individual was made to be a high-status person. It is concluded that the motivation of ACD in Pacopampa was a manifestation of high status in stratified societies in Formative Period Peru.
Acknowledgments This study was supported by KAKENHI (no. 19251013, 20770197). Conflict of interest There is no conflict of interest.

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