No Better Angels Here: Bioarchaeology of Non-Lethal Head Wounds in the Greater Southwest (AD 900-1350)

Author(s): John Crandall; Debra Martin; Ryan Harrod

Year: 2015


A survey of healed cranial depression fractures from Southwest collections revealed new information on the patterning of head wounds by age and sex. Head wounds demonstrate nuance and a non-linear trend over time. Thus suggests a much more complex picture than has been offered by recent scholarship that examined fracture rates based on published literature for select sites. This analysis is based on new data collected directly from Southwestern skeletal collections representing Ancestral Pueblo and Mogollon populations. Male and female rates of head wounds are tethered and co-occur in different frequencies across time and space, suggesting variable roles and implications for both males and females. Furthermore, based on the placement, size, shape and severity of the head wounds, this analysis was able to rule out accidental or occupational fractures using forensic and clinical standards. Wounds across time and between different groups suggest that nonlethal violence increased over time, and had different implications for the victims (and the perpetrators). It is possible that lethal violence due to warfare and raiding was only the tip of the iceberg, with many other forms of social control and coercion in place as well.

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

No Better Angels Here: Bioarchaeology of Non-Lethal Head Wounds in the Greater Southwest (AD 900-1350). Debra Martin, John Crandall, Ryan Harrod. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398245)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

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