Where are the Warriors?: Cranial Trauma Patterns and Conflict among the Ancient Maya

Vera Tiesler and Andrea Cucina

in The Bioarchaeology of Violence

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780813041506
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043876 | DOI:
Where are the Warriors?: Cranial Trauma Patterns and Conflict among the Ancient Maya

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Patterns of cranial trauma in a skeletal series recovered from 63 well-documented Classic and Post classic period Maya sites were analyzed by examining the extent and role of violence and captive taking in the region across time. It was hypothesized that different forms of organized inter-personal violence and weaponry use should leave distinctive traces and distribution patterns in the skeletal remains. By examining urban versus rural settings, different chronological periods, and the different contexts, Vera Tiesler and Andrea Cucina illuminate the role of warrior/captive status. The analysis of the “trophy skulls” that were placed in caches, ritual trash areas and within tomb burials and those recovered from ritual depositories in sink holes are shown to be post-sacrificial. Also, both males and females showed evidence of blunt force trauma suggesting that not only males were engaged in these types of violence.

Keywords: Cranial trauma; Temporal violence; Status; Trophy skulls; Gender; Blunt force trauma

Chapter.  5684 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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