Variations in Cranial Vault Modification at Uraca, Majes Valley, Peru


Cranial vault modification was a prevalent type of body modification practiced throughout the ancient Andes. It was achieved by binding the head during childhood, which left the crania permanently altered into adulthood. Different methods of binding led to visually different forms of modification, which likely marked membership in different ethnic groups. Researchers have documented three major modification styles in the Andes: tabular oblique, tabular erect, and circumferential. Recent excavations at Uraca, a Middle Horizon (600-1000 AD) cemetery associated with the petroglyph site Toro Muerto exhibit a divergent, local style where only the occipital bone is modified. This project describes the range of modification forms encountered at Uraca as compared to other regions of the Andes. This project examines the level of diversity of cranial vault modification forms between Sector I, which is closer in proximity to Toro Muerto, and Sector II, which is further away. If modification styles are highly diverse in individuals buried near Toro Muerto, this would show that people from throughout southern Peru had access to the petroglyphs at Toro Muerto. If individuals consistently display the local style, this could reflect low migration rates, or that interment at Uraca was restricted to local Majes residents.

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

Variations in Cranial Vault Modification at Uraca, Majes Valley, Peru. Aric Archebelle-Smith, Cassandra S. Koontz, Lisseth Rojas Pelayo, Manuel Angel Mamani. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396729)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

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