Broken noses for the gods: ritual battles in the Atacama Desert during the Tiwanaku period|
Andrea Lessa & Sheila Maria Ferraz Mendonça de Souza
The sample consists of 226 skulls from the Atacameño cemetery of Coyo Oriente (639-910 AD), associated with the Tiwanaku period. The authors analyzed signs of acute trauma typically associated with violence, and the results were 12% of men and 9.9% of women displaying any type of lesion related to violence. In males, concentration of these non-lethal lesions in the nasal region (10.4%) as opposed to a random distribution over the entire skull (1.6%), suggests that the blows were struck during rituals. The cultural context of this period, with a strong ideological influence from Tiwanaku, supports the ritual hypothesis, since both the ethnographic as well as archeological records point to the existence of non-lethal violent bleeding with ritual beating to the face. Such rituals persist to this day among certain Andean populations. Among women, the most plausible hypothesis for the lesions (3.9% in the skull, 4.9% in the nasal bones, and 0.9% in the face) is domestic conflicts, since they show a random distribution. Previous studies with other Atacameño samples had indicated the same results for women.
palaeoepidemiology - acute trauma - nasal fractures - ritual fights - Coyo Oriente - Tiwanaku - San Pedro de Atacama