Preliminary Results from the Bioarchaeological Investigation of Human Sacrificial Victims from China's Late Shang Dynasty
Ongoing archaeological investigations at the Late Shang capital of Yinxu (ca. 1200 – 1050 BCE) in China have resulted in the location and partial excavation of thousands of sacrificial pits with an estimated 10,000 individuals interred within. Evidence of human sacrifice during this period includes contemporaneous oracle bone inscriptions, mortuary contexts, weaponry, and the skeletal remains of these individuals. We are presenting our preliminary interpretation of the osteological analysis of over 60 individuals who were excavated from the Late Shang royal cemetery in the fall of 2013. Basic analyses such as age, sex, diet, health, trauma, and stature were carried out on this sample. Our results provide important insight into the lives of the victims themselves, thought to be war captives, and their post-mortem treatment by the Shang. Our study also highlights the importance of a bioarchaeological approach, which we hope to encourage through continuing collaborations with our Chinese colleagues.
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Preliminary Results from the Bioarchaeological Investigation of Human Sacrificial Victims from China's Late Shang Dynasty. Daniela Wolin, Natasha Osing, Jigen Tang, Yuyun Tang, Lingling Deng. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397649)
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