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

Bioarchaeological analysis of unlooted tombs from Cocahuischo in Nasca, Peru (AD 650-750) reveals disease and trauma patterns during the period leading up to Wari Imperial incursion


1Anthropology, Northern Arizona University, 2Anthropology, Purdue University, 3Anthropology, University of Montreal, 4Anthropology, Purdue University

Thursday 2:15-2:30, Galleria North Add to calendar

The latter portion of the Early Intermediate Period in Nasca, Peru (AD 650-750) was characterized by burgeoning social and trade networks before the expansion of the Wari and Tiwanaku states. The Nasca were important to the Wari state, as evidenced by similarities in ceramic technology and iconography. Even with these associations, recent archaeological and bioarchaeological studies have revealed variation in the Nasca response to Wari incursion.

Ten individuals from nine unlooted tombs from Cocahuischo, one of the largest sites in the region during this time period and located near the later Wari outpost of Pataraya, were excavated and analyzed. Almost all individuals exhibit the Nasca fronto-occipital style of cranial vault modification and are seated flexed facing south. The most common pathology is antemortem tooth loss, but few individuals show evidence of osteoperiosteal reactions. Osteoarthritis, spondylolysis, Schmorl’s nodes, and postcranial fractures attest to the hard physical activity characteristic of Nasca lives. One tomb also contained a rare headless burial of a young male and may clarify the practice of Nasca “trophy” head taking. These bioarchaeological analyses contribute new data on Nasca individuals during a period of great social change.

The National Geographic Society funded this research.

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