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Ritual Violence in the Ancient Andes

Ritual Violence in the Ancient Andes
Reconstructing Sacrifice on the North Coast of Peru

The first comprehensive synthesis of a major topic in Andean archaeology, this volume reconstructs the complex and situational motivations underlying ritual killing and the broader range of pre- and post-killing rites that were integral to ancient liturgies of violence

Series: William and Bettye Nowlin Endowment, in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere

July 2016
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486 pages | 6 x 9 | Hardcover has a printed case, no dust jacket | 91 b&w photos, 29 b&w illus., 7 b&w maps, 12 b&w charts/graphs |

Traditions of sacrifice exist in almost every human culture and often embody a society’s most meaningful religious and symbolic acts. Ritual violence was particularly varied and enduring in the prehistoric South American Andes, where human lives, animals, and material objects were sacrificed in secular rites or as offerings to the divine. Spectacular discoveries of sacrificial sites containing the victims of violent rituals have drawn ever-increasing attention to ritual sacrifice within Andean archaeology. Responding to this interest, this volume provides the first regional overview of ritual killing on the pre-Hispanic north coast of Peru, where distinct forms and diverse trajectories of ritual violence developed during the final 1,800 years of prehistory.

Presenting original research that blends empirical approaches, iconographic interpretations, and contextual analyses, the contributors address four linked themes—the historical development and regional variation of north coast sacrifice from the early first millennium AD to the European conquest; a continuum of ritual violence that spans people, animals, and objects; the broader ritual world of sacrifice, including rites both before and after violent offering; and the use of diverse scientific tools, archaeological information, and theoretical interpretations to study sacrifice. This research proposes a wide range of new questions that will shape the research agenda in the coming decades, while fostering a nuanced, scientific, and humanized approach to the archaeology of ritual violence that is applicable to archaeological contexts around the world.

  • Foreword (Clark Spencer Larsen)
  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • 1. Ritual Violence on the North Coast of Peru: Perspectives and Prospects in the Archaeology of Ancient Andean Sacrifice (Haagen D. Klaus and J. Marla Toyne)
  • Part I. Ancient Ritual Variation and Methodological Advances in Studies of Sacrifice (Haagen D. Klaus and J. Marla Toyne)
    • 2. Ritual Killing, Mutilation, and Dismemberment at Huaca de la Luna: Sharp Force Trauma Among the Moche Sacrifice Victims in Plazas 3A and 3C (Laurel S. Hamilton)
    • 3. The Taphonomy of Ritual Killing on the North Coast of Peru: Perspectives from Huaca de la Luna and Pacatnamú (Heather C. Backo)
    • 4. Ritual Strangulation in the Southern Moche World: Mortuary Ligatures as Tools of Liturgical Violation (David Chicoine)
    • 5. Bodies and Blood: Middle Sicán Human Sacrifice in the Lambayeque Valley Complex (AD 900–1100) (Haagen D. Klaus and Izumi Shimada)
    • 6. Precious Gifts: Mortuary Patterns and the Shift from Animal to Human Sacrifice at Santa Rita B in the Middle Chao Valley, Peru (Catherine Gaither, Jonathan Kent, Jonathan Bethard, Victor Vasquez S., and Teresa Rosales)
    • 7. Human Sacrifice at the Chotuna-Chornancap Archaeological Complex: Traditions and Transformations of Ritual Violence Under Chimú and Inka Rule (Haagen D. Klaus, Bethany L. Turner, Fausto Saldaña, Samuel Castillo, and Carlos Wester)
  • Part II. Ancient Identities, Ambiguous Deaths, and Complex Burials (Haagen D. Klaus and J. Marla Toyne)
    • 8. Life Before Death: A Paleopathological Examination of Human Sacrifice at the Templo de la Piedra Sagrada, Túcume, Peru (J. Marla Toyne)
    • 9. The Killing of Captives on the North Coast of Peru in Pre-Hispanic Times: Iconographic and Bioarchaeological Evidence (John W. Verano and Sara S. Phillips)
    • 10. Reconsidering Retainers: Identity, Death, and Sacrifice in High-Status Funerary Contexts on the North Coast of Peru (Sylvia Bentley and Haagen D. Klaus)
    • 11. Human Sacrifice: A View from San José de Moro (Elsa Tomasto-Cagigao, Mellisa Lund, Luis Jaime Castillo, and Lars Fehren-Schmitz)
  • Part III. Continuums of Killing: Sacrifice of Animals and Objects (Haagen D. Klaus and J. Marla Toyne)
    • 12. Life Histories of Sacrificed Camelids from Huancaco (Virú Valley) (Paul Szpak, Jean-François Millaire, Christine White, Steve Bourget, and Fred Longstaffe)
    • 13. Posts and Pots: Propitiatory Ritual at Huaca Santa Clara in the Virú Valley, Peru (Jean-François Millaire)
  • Part IV. Perspectives from Beyond the North Coast of Peru (Haagen D. Klaus and J. Marla Toyne)
    • 14. Practicing and Performing Sacrifice (Tiffiny Tung)
    • 15. Mesoamerican Perspectives on the (Bio)archaeology of Ritual Violence (Vera Tiesler)
  • Reference List
  • Index

“This volume makes a significant contribution to our understanding of ritual killings and ‘sacrifice.’ The contributors to develop methods, ethnographic analogies, and social theory that other scholars working outside of the Andes will find of great use.”
Richard Sutter, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, Indiana-Perdue University Fort Wayne

“This book is unique. It offers a multidisciplinary and integrated view of the very complex theme of human sacrifice and ritual killing, including data from osteology, ethnohistory, art, and archaeology.”
Maria C. Lozada, Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago


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