tDAR Logo tDAR digital antiquity

Social Identity and Mass Sacrifice: An Investigation at Matrix 101, a Late Middle Sicán Funerary Context

Author(s): Jenna Hurtubise ; Haagen Klaus ; José Pinilla ; Carlos Elera

Year: 2016

» Downloads & Basic Metadata


We examine the social identity of the individuals buried at a Late Middle Sicán (A.D. 1050-1120) mass grave designated Matrix 101, located in the Sicán Religious-Funerary Precinct in the La Leche Valley, north coast of Peru. Our objectives are threefold: (1) to understand the social identities of the individuals, (2) to examine the complex mortuary practices that took place during the construction of the burial, and (3) to infer sociopolitical reasons for the construction of Matrix 101 and to see how they might relate to the Sicán political-religious collapse.

Body positions, grave goods, and present frequencies of biological stress allow for social identity of the deceased to be assessed. Due to the large scale of the mortuary context and apparent deliberate skeletal manipulation, preliminary research points to the special nature of Matrix 101. We hypothesize that Matrix 101 represents a mass grave that was constructed in three closely timed events surrounding an El Niño ca. A.D. 1050. We argue that the presence of burial manipulation, specific body positions, and evidence of sharp force trauma provide evidence of ritual killing. We suggest that these individuals represent Sicán elite whose identities were transformed into sacred objects during a crisis ritual.

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Cite this Record

Social Identity and Mass Sacrifice: An Investigation at Matrix 101, a Late Middle Sicán Funerary Context. Jenna Hurtubise, Haagen Klaus, José Pinilla, Carlos Elera. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404541)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

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