The bravery and beauty within: Skeletal analysis of the ancient Chachapoya people at Kuelap


In early 17th century historical descriptions, Garcilaso de la Vega describes the Chachapoya people of Peru as "very brave", "the men well-formed and the women extremely beautiful". While the archaeological remains cannot address the veracity of these statements, the analysis of the skeletal remains from important Chachapoya complexes, such as Kuelap, provide the only direct means of reconstructing a biological profile of these ancient people, including aspects of their physical morphology, health, diet, and mobility. Kuelap is one of the largest sites in the area and the mortuary contexts are diverse, including individual burials, collective tombs, and secondary deposits, yet the preservation of skeletal materials is good. These preliminary osteological data synthesize the skeletal collection from Kuelap observed to date (n=589), including partial and complete individuals. Here we highlight the estimated age-at-death profile, stature estimates, patterns in cranial modification, and patterns in traumatic injuries in order to model the physical nature and local biology of the Chachapoya peoples compared to others in the region and the broader Andes.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

The bravery and beauty within: Skeletal analysis of the ancient Chachapoya people at Kuelap. Jennifer Marla Toyne, J. Marla Toyne, L. Alfredo Narvaez. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395960)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;