Cranial injuries as evidence of violence in prehistoric southern California



Crania from the Channel Island area of southern California were examined for evidence of traumatic injuries. Well-healed depressed fractures in the outer table of the cranial vault are common in skeletal remains from the northern Channel Islands (18.56% n = 598) but rare in those from the mainland coast (7.5% n = 146). This prevalence of traumatic injuries among the islanders may be a result of intense competition over resources in a geographically circumscribed environment. The frequency of cranial injuries increases significantly between the early and late prehistoric periods on the Channel Islands. This temporal variation appears to reflect changes in patterns of violence associated with population growth and environmental instability.