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Keywords:

  • conflict;
  • skeletal injury;
  • Huari;
  • imperialism;
  • Peru;
  • bioarchaeology

Abstract

This study examines bioarchaeological evidence for violence during the period of Wari imperialism in the Peruvian Andes through analysis of skeletal trauma from three populations dating to AD 650–800. The samples are from contemporaneous archaeological sites: Conchopata, a Wari heartland site in central highland Peru; Beringa, a community of commoners in the Majes valley of the southern Wari hinterland; and La Real, a high status mortuary site, also in the Majes valley. Given the expansionist nature of Wari and its military-related iconography and weaponry, it is hypothesized that Wari imperialism was concomitant with greater levels of violence relative to other prehispanic groups in the Andes. It is also hypothesized that differential articulation with the Wari empire (e.g., heartland vs. hinterland groups) affected the frequency and patterning of trauma. Results show that cranial trauma frequency of the three Wari era samples is significantly greater than several other Andean skeletal populations. This suggests that Wari rule was associated with high levels of violence, though it may not have always been related to militarism. The three adult samples show similar frequencies of cranial trauma (Conchopata = 26%; Beringa = 33%; La Real = 31%). This may suggest that differential positioning in the Wari empire had little effect on exposure to violence. Sex-based differences in cranial trauma frequencies are present only at La Real, but wound patterning differs between the sexes: females display more wounds on the posterior of the cranium, while males show more on the anterior. These data suggest that Wari rule may have contributed to violence. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.