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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

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Summary

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.

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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)


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Spatial Coverage

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

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