Social identities and geographical origins of Wari trophy heads from Conchopata, Peru

Tiffiny A. Tung, Kelly Knudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Wari empire (600-1000 CE) of the pre-Hispanic Andes engaged in ritual practices that included the modification and display of human trophy heads, but it is unknown from whom these heads were taken. Of 31 trophy heads from Conchopata, the majority are of adult males, and 42% exhibit cranial trauma, indicating that people whose heads were transformed into trophies commonly experienced violence. Strontium isotope analysis of five adult trophy heads indicates that at least three of these individuals consumed foods grown in a geological zone outside the Wari heartland. These data, combined with information on age, sex, and violent life histories and iconography showing bound prisoners and warriors wearing trophy heads, suggest that at least some trophy heads represent individuals from nonlocal areas who may have been perceived as enemies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-926
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent anthropology
Volume49
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology

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