Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Award: The Interaction between Violence and Perception of Social Difference

Project: Research project

Project Details


Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Award: The Interaction between Violence and Perception of Social Difference Doctoral Dissertation Research: Ritual violence and the perception of social difference: human sacrifice in the Epiclassic Basin of Mexico The proposed project examines identity-based violenceviolence directed at individuals or groups perceived as divergentin the past. It considers how diverse categorical social identities contributed to the selection of victims of ritual violence during periods of socio-political upheaval. Under the supervision of Principal Investigator Jane Buikstra, Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) Sofa Pacheco- Fors will examine the skeletal remains from a sacrificial deposit at an Epiclassic shrine site located in the marshes of Lake Xaltocan in central Mexico. The Epiclassic period (600-900 CE) was a time of dramatic political, social, and demographic reorganization in the Basin of Mexico, characterized by increased migration and violence. In such a volatile socio-political landscape, individuals social identities may have acted as powerful indicators of social difference. This research will answer the question: How did specific aspects of individuals social identities, including geographic origin and biological kinship, predispose them to suffer ritual violence? The research objectives are to: (1) reconstruct the residential histories of a sample of the sacrificial victims (n=73) using biogeochemical analyses, and (2a) assess whether all excavated sacrificed individuals (n=173) represented a single kin-group that was (2b) biologically continuous with pre-extant populations in the Basin of Mexico using biodistance analyses. Individual paleomobility patterns will be estimated using two isotopic systems (strontium and oxygen) and skeletal elements forming at different times. Patterns of biological kinship will be estimated using skeletal and dental phenotypic proxies for genetic relatedness.
Effective start/end date8/1/177/31/19


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $31,198.00


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