Symbolic bones and interethnic violence in a frontier zone, northwest Mexico, ca. 500-900 C.E.

Ben Nelson, Debra L. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although extensive deposits of disarticulated, commingled human bones are common in the prehispanic Northern Frontier of Mesoamerica, detailed bioarchaeological analyses of them are not. To our knowledge, this article provides the first such analysis of bone from a full residential-ceremonial complex and evaluates multiple hypotheses about its significance, concluding that the bones actively represented interethnic violence as well as other relationships among persons living and dead. Description of these practices is important to the discussion of multiethnic societies because the frontier was a context where urbanism and complexity were emerging and groups with the potential to form multiethnic societies were interacting, possibly in the same ways that groups did before the formation of larger multiethnic city-states in the core of Mesoamerica.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9196-9201
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume112
Issue number30
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 28 2015

Keywords

  • Archaeology
  • Human bone taphonomy
  • Interethnic conflict
  • Mesoamerica
  • Social violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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