Reinterpreting the Evidence for Violence in Cave 7, Grand Gulch, Utah

Author(s): Patricia Lambert

Year: 2019


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

Wetherill’s Cave 7 in Grand Gulch, Utah, has long been considered a massacre site, notable in particular for the large number of individuals in the assemblage (~90) and for its temporal placement in the Basketmaker II period. Recent debate concerning these remains has centered around the chronology of burials in the cave, as establishing contemporaneity of the remains is recognized as crucial for interpreting the social context—and specific events—surrounding the formation of the assemblage. In this paper new osteological evidence pertaining to this debate is presented, based on a reexamination of the remains of 74 individuals from Cave 7. These data support the interpretation of high levels of violence at this time and place, but not of a single massacre event involving all or even most of the burial population. That said, 45% of these individuals (59% of men, 36% of women) have some evidence for violent injury, including 24% with perimortem cranial trauma, scalping cut marks, and/or projectile injuries. These data suggest that the Cave 7 population was heavily embattled, and raise important questions about the history of the Cave 7 population and of the social dynamics in the region some 2000 years ago.

Cite this Record

Reinterpreting the Evidence for Violence in Cave 7, Grand Gulch, Utah. Patricia Lambert. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450356)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 26254