The Character of Conflict Research Project


Objectives: This study uses osteological and radiocarbon datasets combined with formal quantitative analyses to test hypotheses concerning the character of conflict in the Nasca highlands during the Late Intermediate period (LIP, 950 – 1450 C.E.). We develop and test osteological expectations regarding what patterns should be observed if violence was characterized by intra-group violence, ritual conflict, intermittent raiding, or internecine warfare.

Materials and methods: Crania (n = 267) were examined for ante-mortem and peri-mortem, overkill, and critical trauma. All age groups and both sexes are represented in the sample. 124 crania were AMS dated, allowing a detailed analysis of diachronic patterns in violence among various demographic groups.

Results: Thirty-eight percent (102/267) of crania exhibit some form of cranial trauma, a significant increase from the preceding Middle Horizon era. There are distinct trauma frequencies within the three sub-phases of the LIP, but Phase III (1300 – 1450 C.E.) exhibits the highest frequencies of all trauma types. Males exhibit significantly more ante-mortem trauma than females, but both exhibit similar peri-mortem trauma rates.

Discussion: There was chronic, internecine warfare throughout the Late Intermediate period with important variations in violence throughout the three sub-phases. Evidence for heterogeneity in violent mortality shows a pattern consistent with social substitutability, whereby any and all members of the Nasca highland population were appropriate targets for lethal and sublethal violence. We argue that by testing hypotheses regarding the targets and types of conflict, we are better able to develop and test hypotheses concerning the causes and consequences of human conflict.

Cite this Record

The Character of Conflict Research Project. ( tDAR id: 457656) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8457656


Human Remains

Investigation Types
Bioarchaeological Research

andes Peru Violence Warfare

Spatial Coverage

min long: -74.785; min lat: -14.916 ; max long: -74.434; max lat: -14.646 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Weston McCool

Resource Inside this Project (Viewing 1-1 of 1)

  • Dataset (1)


  1. Character of Conflict Dataframe (2020)