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Abstract

Taphonomy and Warfare in the Mesa Verde Region

Kristin A. Kuckelman and Debra L. Martin

Abstract

The periodic eruption of warfare among the Ancestral Pueblo Indians who farmed the Mesa Verde region of southwestern Colorado is evidenced, on the remains of many individuals, by perimortem depression fractures of the cranium and other trauma characteristic of violence. Taphonomic study of the remains of those who died in warfare events reveals weathering, carnivore damage, and nonformal disposition of remains as well as evidence of trophy-taking and anthropophagy. Thoughtful analysis and interpretation of the taphonomic evidence has led to a richer and more nuanced understanding of Ancestral Pueblo warfare events and the societal contexts in which they occurred.

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