The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


Comparative interpretation of perimortem trauma from Spanish Conquest of Inca Empire, Peru

MELISSA S. MURPHY1 and BRIAN SPATOLA2.

1Anthropology, University of Wyoming, 2Anatomical Collections, National Museum of Health and Medicine

Thursday 11, Forum Suite Add to calendar

While the bioarchaeological interpretation of violence perpetrated by the Spanish during the conquest of the Inca Empire is often guided by written historical documents, critical close reading and nuanced analysis are necessary in order to identify and understand the perpetrators and victims of violence during this chaotic time. For example, the presence of injuries from European weapons, such as firearms or steel edged blades, indicates that the victims were dispatched or injured after conquest; however, the perpetrators of said violence could be Spaniards, indigenous Andean allies of the Spanish armed with European weapons, or even allies recruited from different parts of the Americas. Furthermore, the effect of 16th Century European weapons on human skeletal remains is little known, so the interpretation of the correspondence between the weapon and the injury is particularly challenging. In this poster, we examine characteristics of perimortem skeletal injuries, weapon, class, and interpersonal aspects of weapon utilization from historical and forensic case studies to aid in the interpretation of the high frequencies of perimortem traumatic injuries (25.0%) and injuries consistent with European weapons from a sample of indigenous human skeletal remains from Puruchuco-Huaquerones, Peru. Our analysis attempts 1) to reconstruct the roles of some indigenous Andean peoples in these violent times, 2) to illuminate the context of the violence of Spanish Conquest, and 3) to aid in the interpretation of traumatized bone from different types of weapons.

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