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Keywords:

  • North Patagonia;
  • Late Holocene;
  • interpersonal violence;
  • bioarchaeology

ABSTRACT

This work presents bioarchaeological patterns of interpersonal violence inferred for Northeastern Patagonia (Argentina) during the late Holocene. The main goal is to evaluate if there is a significant increase in the frequency of indicators of violence during the final late Holocene, prior to colonial times, in possible concordance with the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (ca. 1150–600 years BP). A sample of skulls (n = 797) was studied through a series of methodological steps that included the evaluation of their state of preservation and the study of potential injuries, taking into account the degree of ambiguity of the diagnosis. The sample was divided into three chronological groups: early (ca. 3500–2500 years BP), middle (ca. 2500–1500 years BP) and late (ca. 1500–400 years BP). The individuals were also separated according to sex, age category and geographical distribution. Although a temporal trend toward increased violence was detected, it was not statistically significant. There was also a higher percentage of positive cases in Northern individuals compared to the Southern ones, and between males compared to females, but neither case had statistically significant differences. Alternative mechanisms, such as population dispersals, exchange and use of buffer areas, that may have functioned to dispel social tensions, are proposed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.