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Preliminary Results from the Bioarchaeological Investigation of Human Sacrificial Victims from China's Late Shang Dynasty

Author(s): Natasha Osing ; Daniela Wolin ; Yuyun Tang ; Jigen Tang ; Lingling Deng

Year: 2015

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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)


Geographic Keywords
East/Southeast Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America