The Bioarchaeology of Social Order: Cooperation and Conflict among the Mimbres (AD 550-1300)

Author(s): Kathryn Baustian

Year: 2015


A comprehensive bioarchaeological assessment of Mimbres health, activity, and interpersonal violence was completed using data from a sample of 248 human burials from 17 Late Pithouse (AD 550-1000) and Pueblo (AD 1000-1300) sites in the Mimbres region. The findings presented here demonstrate broader patterns for interpretation of community experiences that have not been as well described in previous case studies from individual site samples. This larger sample of all available adult burials reveals relatively good health, low rates of interpersonal conflict (approximately 10%), and sufficient diets. Although some individuals from all time periods showed indicators of interpersonal violence, Mimbres communities do not appear to have had endemic warfare seen in other regions of the Southwest.Stress was perhaps mitigated then by social mechanisms or forms of social control that promoted cooperation and resolved conflict. The limited use of strategic interpersonal violence may have been one of the ways that social order was maintained. Mortuary data support archaeological indicators of a fairly simple political structure but atypical burials from multiple sites suggest differential status or social significance in the community. These individuals may have served special roles and both skeletal and mortuary findings better inform our interpretation of Mimbres societal structure.

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The Bioarchaeology of Social Order: Cooperation and Conflict among the Mimbres (AD 550-1300). Kathryn Baustian. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397673)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;