Contextualizing Ritual Violence: Kinship, Ethnicity, and Human Sacrifice in Epiclassic Central Mexico

Author(s): Sofía Pacheco-Forés

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Journeying to the South, from Mimbres (New Mexico) to Malpaso (Zacatecas) and Beyond: Papers in Honor of Ben A. Nelson" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Ritual violence has a long time-depth within Mesoamerica. While archaeologists and ethnohistorians have studied the political and cosmological significance of this practice extensively, less is understood about how or why particular individuals were targeted for sacrifice. This study investigates how the perception of social difference contributed to the selection of sacrificial victims at the central Mexican shrine site of Non-Grid 4, where 173 individuals were interred. The site dates to the Epiclassic (600-900 CE) period, a time of dramatic political upheaval and social reorganization. In such a volatile geopolitical climate, aspects of individuals’ social identities—including their biological kinship affiliations and ethnicities—could have acted as powerful indicators of social difference that culminated in violence. Multi-scalar biodistance analyses are used to reconstruct patterns of biological relatedness among sacrificial victims, as well as between sacrificial victims and pre-extant populations within greater Mesoamerica, including central, northern, and western Mexico. This research not only improves understandings of ritual violence within ancient Mesoamerica, but also contributes more broadly to anthropological knowledge about the social context of violence by examining the interaction between specific social identities such as biological kinship and ethnicity, complex social processes like migration and demographic change, and instances of mass violence.

Cite this Record

Contextualizing Ritual Violence: Kinship, Ethnicity, and Human Sacrifice in Epiclassic Central Mexico. Sofía Pacheco-Forés. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451511)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 18.48 ; max long: -94.087; max lat: 23.161 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23256