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Resting in War and Peace: A Bioarchaeological Study of Group Violence in Peruvian Prehistory

Danielle S. Kurin, Department of Anthropology , Vanderbilt University

This preliminary research investigates patterns of traumatic injury and cranial vault modification (CVM) in human skeletal remains from mortuary sites in Andahuaylas Province, in the south-central Peruvian Andes, in an effort to determine if an emerging Andean society in the post-imperial Late Intermediate Period (LIP) (AD 1000-1400) experienced variable manifestations of physical violence and alterations in their method of expressing social identity through the body.

Standard bioarchaeological methods were employed in the analysis of human remains (See Buikstra and Ubelaker 1994). The age and skeletal sex of each individual was determined based on cranial morphology. To ascertain how violence was experienced within this society, crania were examined for evidence of trauma (Lovell 1997). To ascertain intent and lethality, locations of affected areas on bone were documented, and the number and types of fractures and concomitant abnormal bone changes were described. The timing of fractures, based on healing, was also examined. Wound shape and size was documented in an attempt to determine the mechanism of injury and class of weapon used. Impact location and radiating fracture directions were recorded to determine the victims position relevant to the direction of force (Galloway 1999). Dental abnormalities with suspected traumatic etiologies, including ante-mortem tooth loss and dental fractures, were also documented (Lukacs 2007). Finally, data on the presence or absence of CVM and cranial trepanation was collected (TorresRouff 2008; Andrushko and Verano 2008).

Far left: Visual representation of trauma distribution and frequencies by CVM. Red circles represent injuries on crania with CVM and blue circles represent trauma to individuals without CVM. Near left: Visual representation of trauma distribution and frequencies by sex, Red circles represent injuries on female crania, and blue circles represent trauma to male crania.

The Study Region: Andahuaylas, Apurimac, Peru. Circles indicate location of skeletal collections

Far left: Sex distribution in study population; males (red), females (blue) and sub-adults (green) Near left: Distribution of CVM; crania with CVM (cyan), crania without CVM (yellow)

Similar Trauma Patterns

Post-Imperial Andean Society (AD 1000-1400)

There is a strong consensus among researchers that no central state emerged in the Andes during the period after the disintegration of the Wari and Tiwanaku empires and before the advent of the Inka empire (Covey 2008). One society of the time, termed Chanka, is thought to have witnessed violent conflict (Lumbreras 1974). Yet, as known from historical and contemporary cases, patterns of violence in post-imperial societies may vary considerablyranging from relatively little violence, to indiscriminate violence among individuals, to full-scale ethnic conflict and even civil war (Sambanis 2001). Since the collapse of states is generally characterized by subsequent widespread sociopolitical conflict and isolation (Tainter 1988), and given ethnohistoric accounts noting violence during preInkaic times in the region (and See Tung 2009), it is hypothesized that the patterns of violence might reveal ethnic conflicts that victimized numerous subpopulations, not just adult men, as might be expected in more formalized cases of warfare.

Documenting evidence of ante-and peri-mortem trauma on a single Chanka skull (arrows). Views: anterior-superior, right lateral, posterior, left lateral

Preliminary Results
Among the sample examined (n = 159) , 51 (33%), crania, total, were female, 83 (53%) male, and 25 (15%) were sub-adults (under 15 years old). 67% (n=106) of crania have CVM. Of these 39% (n=42) are females and 46% (n=49) are males;15 % (n=14) of sub-adults also present CVM. 53 (33%) of individuals in this sample do not present CVM. 53% (n = 84) of all crania show cranial fractures, indicating trauma. 27% (n =43) of all crania exhibited unhealed skull fractures, suggesting that those head injuries were the mechanism of death. 62% (n=66) of individuals with CVM, and 28% (n=15) of all unmodified crania present signs of some sort of trauma. Of note, 34% (n=36) of individuals with CVM present lethal,, peri-mortem trauma compared with 13% (n=7) of unmodified crania. Overall, males and females in Andahuaylas may have experienced violence differently following the collapse of the Andean Empires. Males received 79 total injuries. N=45 (54%) of all males examined were at one time victims of trauma. 30% (n=25) of all males likely received lethal trauma. Of female crania examined, n=38 total injuries were distributed over n=36 individuals (76% of the total) . 25% (n=13) of females were likely victims of lethal trauma. Sub-adult trauma frequencies, overall, are at 28% (n=7). The mechanism, location and timing of injuries in most cases suggest intentional trauma. Finally, 13% (n=20) of skulls exhibit evidence of trepanation. Of trepanned individuals 5% (n=1) are females, 95% (n=21) are males, and none (0%) are sub adults. 60% (n=14) of trepanned individuals have cranial modification, and 40% (n=8) do not. Of those individuals who have undergone trepanation, 60% (n=14) demonstrate surgical wounds with signs of healing (a proxy for survivability). Of those individuals who survived trepanation, 81% (n=17) have CVM. Three modified crania with trepanations. Left: no evidence of healing; Middle: some healing (see inset); Right: healed trepanations

Far left: Visual representation of trauma frequencies in the study population, including no trauma (cyan), ante-mortem trauma (white), and peri-mortem trauma (blue). Near left: Visual representation of trepanation healing among individuals with CVM; trepanations which demonstrate healing (blue) versus trepanations that show no signs of healing (cyan).

Initial Conclusions
1. Both males and females in post-imperial Andahuaylas practiced CVM to mark some kind of identity. 2. Individuals with CVM received more traumatic injuries than individuals without CVM. 3. Individuals with CVM received more lethal trauma than individuals without CVM 4. Males, females, and sub-adults with CVM have a wider distribution of cranial trauma than the unmodified sub-population. 5. Individuals with CVM demonstrate patterns of injury similar to modern forensic cases of human rights abuses and genocide. 6. Trepanation is practiced on males more than females; and not on sub-adults. 7. Individuals with CVM have a higher rate of trepanation than individuals without CVM. 8. Trepanned individuals with CVM tend to survive longer than those without CVM. 9. In sum, hypothesis related to variable manifestations of violence among the Chanka and sub populations therein require further evaluation and testing of statistical significance. Planned radiocarbon dating will provide a firm temporal anchor for the human remains, and future analysis of heritable non-metric cranial and dental traits may reveal biological affinity within sub-populations.

Stone weapons associated with the Chanka of Andahuaylas

Identity in The Andes:

From Theory to Bioarchaeology

Although definitions of identity vary considerably (e.g. Barth 1969 on ethnicity), previous research suggests that consanguinous lineages of shared descent---or biological affinity--was an important component of ethnic identity in the pre-historic Andes (Reycraft 2005). Yet, genetic relatedness is only one factor of Andean ethnicity. Like other Andean cultures, some individuals in post-imperial Andahuaylas visibly marked the identity of their offspring through cranial vault modification (CVM) (Hoshower et al 1995). CVM provides a highly conspicuous and permanent marker of identity (possibly ethnic), visible to members both within and outside the group (Torres Rouff 2008, Blom 2007).

Left column: Crania examined by Taala et. al (2008) recovered from the killing fields of Cambodia; Right column: Crania with CVM recovered from post-imperial Andahuaylas

Photo caption

References Cited
Andrushko, V and Verano, J. 2008. Prehistoric trepanation in the Cuzco region of Peru: a view into an ancient Andean practice. AJPA. 137(1):4-13. Barth, F. 1969. Ethnic groups and boundaries: the social organization of culture difference. Waveland P: Prospect Heights, New York. Blom, D. 2005. Embodying borders: human body modification and diversity in Tiwanaku society. J Anth Arch. Vol. 24(1). Buikstra, J and Ublaker, D. 1994. Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal Remains. Arkansas Archaeological Survey Research Series No 44. Covey, RA. 2008. Multiregional perspectives on the archaeology of the Andes during the late intermediate period (c. A.D. 1000-1400). J Archaeol Res. 16:287-338. Galloway, A. 1999. Broken bones: anthropological analysis of blunt force trauma. New York: Charles C Thomas P. Hoshower, LM; J E Buikstra, P S Goldstein; AD Webster. 1995. Artificial cranial deformation at the Omo M10 Site: a Tiwanaku complex from the Moquegua Valley, Peru. LAA. 6(2): 145164 Jurmain, R. 1999. Stories from the skeleton: behavioral reconstruction in human osteology. Australia: Gordon and Breach P. Lovell, NC. 1997. Trauma analysis in paleopathology. Yearbook of phys. anth. 40:139-170. Lozada, MC. and Buikstra, JE. 2002. El senorio Chiribaya en la costa sur del Peru. Lima: IEP. Lukacs, JR. 2007. Dental trauma and antemortem tooth loss in prehistoric canary islanders:prevalence and contributing factors. Intl. J Osteoarchaeology. 17:157-173. Lumbreras, L. 1959. Sobre los Chancas. Congreso nacional de historia del Peru. 1:211-242. Nystrom, KC. 2007. Trepanation in the Chachapoya region of northern Peru. Intl. J Osteoarchaeology. 17: 39-51. Reycraft, R, ed. 2005. Us and Them: Archaeology and Ethnicity in the Andes. Cotsen Institue of Archaeology, UCLA: Los Angeles. Sambanis, N. 2001. Do ethnic and nonethnic civil wars have the same causes? J Cnflct Res. 45(3):259-282 Taala,SC; GE Berg, K Haden. 2008. A Khmer Rouge execution method: evidence from Choeung Ek. In: Kimble, EH, JP Baraybar. 2008. Skeletal trauma: identification of injuries resulting from human rights abuse and armed conflict. Boca Raton: CRC P. Pp. 196-201. Tainter, JA. 1988. The collapse of complex societies. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Torres-Rouff, C. 2008. Cranial vault modification and ethnicity in Middle Horizon San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. Curr Anth. 43(1). Tung, TA. 2009. Violence after imperial collapse: a study of cranial trauma among Later Intermediate Period burials from the former Wari capital, Ayacucho, Peru. Nawpa Pacha. 29:1-17. Walker, PL.2001. A bioarchaeological perspective on the history of violence. Annu. Rev. Anropol. 30:573-596.

Documenting Violence
Skeletal trauma is a reliable proxy for violence (Walker 2001). Documentation and analysis of injury patterns can reveal: (1) whether an injury was accidental or intentional, (2) the mechanism of death, (3) the lethality of an injury, and (4) the extent of any healing. These classes of morbidity data can then be collated with the age, sex, and ethnicity of an individual as gleaned through analysis of skeletal remains. This allows for the reconstruction of patterns of traumatic injury for specific individuals, population sub-groups, and eventually entire populations. Because bone fracture patterns are finite (Jumain 1999), diagnostic patterns of intentional trauma from both modern forensic cases and bioarchaeological studies may be employed to predict and interpret patterns of violent injury on ancient Andean skeletal remains. Thus, the pathophysiology of traumatic injuries and expectations of patterned traumatic injury may allow for the research assessment of evidence of violence in ancient Andahuaylas and its possible pattern of infliction. In addition, this study also documents evidence of trepanationthe purposeful, surgical piercing of the skull typically done to alleviate inter-cranial pressure caused by traumatic injury (Andrushko and Verano 2008, Nystrom 2007). As a medico-cultural procedure, trepanation demonstrates how the Chanka coped with violence in their society.

Anterior and superior views of a single Chanka skull demonstrating both healed and unhealed trepanations

Sub-adult with healed cranial fracture and peri-mortem zygomatic fracture (left); Male skull with peri-mortem cranial fracture and ante-mortem tooth loss of the anterior dentition (middle); Female crania with healed nasal fracture (right)

AAPA 2009, Chicago , IL

This research was supported by the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for the Americas, and the College of Arts and Sciences, Vanderbilt University. Thanks to DE Gomez (UNSCH), Dr. TA Tung, and Dr. TD Dillehay (Vanderbilt). An unmodified Chanka skull (left) and modified crania (right) Healing trepanation associated with ante-mortem cranial fracture Andahuaylan Mummy with CVM and headband in situ