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Abstract

Skeletal evidence of violence in the American Southwest is well known and both healed and peri-mortem trauma has been reported at many sites, including high rates of cranial injury supporting evidence of warfare. The present study examines the peri-mortem skeletal injuries in three young males from Pot Creek Pueblo (AD 1260-1320) located in the Taos Valley. Of the individuals analyzed from the Taos Valley, peri-mortem trauma only occurred in these three males, although healed ante-mortem injuries were present in several other individuals. CT scans of the skulls provided an additional method of analysis of the injuries and data necessary to differentiate peri-mortem trauma from post-mortem damage in one case. The pattern of peri-mortem blunt force and chopping force trauma to the skulls and post-cranial remains suggests hand-to hand combat occurred and these individuals died from chopping trauma to the skull, potentially from warfare related activities. Additionally, comparisons of the trauma patterns to rock art dating to the period suggests the type of weapon depicted may have been utilized to inflict the trauma to the skulls.

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