In the Heart of the Inca: An Osteobiography at Huanacauri (Cusco, Peru)


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

This study takes an osteobiographical approach to describe the archaeological significance and life history of the only known individual buried within Huanacauri (Cusco, Peru), one of the most sacred sites in the Inca Empire (ca. 1400-1533 CE). Given the significant location of the burial—in the center of the place the Incas perceived as the foundation of Cusco—an osteobiography is an ideal method to identify the biocultural characteristics of this individual, and interpret whether and how these characteristics may have warranted special burial. Through gross skeletal analysis of age, sex, pathological lesions, dental health, and indicators of physical activity, this study generates a holistic picture of an individual social life during the height of Inca power. Our analyses show that this secondary burial is an adult male (40-55 years old), who was interred in a restricted-access space that contained a gold figurine, a carved stone column, and a textile floor covering. This skeleton exhibits no markers of infectious or developmental diseases or trauma, and only minor signs of osteoarthritis on several vertebrae. Comparing the bioarchaeological data from Huanacauri to an earlier population from the nearby settlement of Matagua, the study uncovers notable differences in trauma.

Cite this Record

In the Heart of the Inca: An Osteobiography at Huanacauri (Cusco, Peru). Anna Whittemore, Maya Krause, Tiffiny A. Tung, Steve Kosiba. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449757)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24972