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Indigenous Testimony to the Conquest of Mexico: An Osteological Analysis of Violence in Contact-period San Gregorio Atlapulco, Xochimilco

Author(s): Bibiana Cadena ; Meggan Bullock

Year: 2015

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While ethnohistoric documents offer insights into the physical and structural violence that accompanied the Spanish conquest of Mexico, these accounts are typically written from the perspective of the conquerors. Few native testimonies exist that provide an indigenous perspective of this period of social, economic, and political upheaval; however, human skeletal remains offer a means of directly evaluating the violence of the Conquest and its impact on the native population. The archaeological site of El Japón in San Gregorio Atlapulco, Xochimilco was the subject of an archaeological salvage project in the 1990s in which 389 burials were excavated. Archaeological data clearly date these skeletons to the decades following the Conquest. An osteological study of violence in the skeletal sample, which incorporated archaeological, paleodemographic, and paleopathological data, as well as detailed analyses of perimortem trauma, indicates that a large number of individuals of both sexes and all ages died in a massacre of the population. Cranial trauma and defensive wounds are frequent in the sample as is evidence of decapitation, dismemberment, and defleshing. The appearance and patterning of these traumatic lesions suggest that both Europeans and indigenous individuals participated in the violence against the inhabitants of San Gregorio Atlapulco.

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Indigenous Testimony to the Conquest of Mexico: An Osteological Analysis of Violence in Contact-period San Gregorio Atlapulco, Xochimilco. Bibiana Cadena, Meggan Bullock. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397686)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

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