The study of violence is generally androcentric in its focus, with emphasis on men and their pursuit of resources, power, and prestige. Neglected is the role and motivations of the women in violence, and this is especially true in raiding. With the analysis of over sixty Ancestral Pueblo human remains from La Plata Valley as a case study, this study is focused on the relationship between the women in the culture and interpersonal violence. The basic questions that this project addresses are: (1) Does the pattern of trauma vary and are there certain individuals who are at more risk within the culture (i.e., appear “beaten down”)? (2) Are there certain portions of the culture that appear to have worked harder during their lifetime (i.e., been “worked to the bone”)? (3) What can the differential patterning of pathology, trauma, and early death across the population reveal regarding the roles of men and women in raiding societies? In order to answer these questions several categories were evaluated according to age and sex. These factors include non-lethal injury (especially trauma to the head), mortuary status (e.g., burial position and grave goods), and muscular stress markers or enthesopathies. The results of this analysis present a picture of inequality within the La Plata population with obvious morbidity differences between women of varying status. The results of this study found that were two groups of women living in La Plata. The local women who lacked cranial trauma, received a culturally appropriate burial, and showed little evidence of muscular stress markers. The women that may have been obtained from raids had cranial trauma, were thrown haphazardly into abandoned pits, and possessed clear signs of having worked hard throughout their lives. This study looked closely at the relationship between women, work, and violence, and results suggest that the local women living at La Plata may have been attempting to reduce their own morbidity risks by both sanctioning and supporting the subordination of captive women obtained in raiding activities. The captive women (having been beaten and worked to the bone) benefited both the local men and women at La Plata. This study shows the complex ways that structural violence works, the potential for gender based functional differences in violent behaviors, and the ways that violence becomes culturally normalized.
Martin, Debra L.; Harrod, Ryan P.; and Fields, Misty
"Beaten Down and Worked to the Bone: Bioarchaeological Investigations of Women and Violence in the Ancient Southwest,"
Landscapes of Violence: Vol. 1
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/lov/vol1/iss1/3