Chapter

The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians

Part of the series INTERDISCIPLINARY CONTRIBUTIONS TO ARCHAEOLOGY pp 5-31

Introduction to Human Trophy Taking

An Ancient and Widespread Practice
  • RICHARD J. CHACON
  • , DAVID H. DYE

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Abstract

The Amerindian practice of taking and displaying various human body parts as trophies has long held the imaginations of both the public and scholars alike. Sensationalized accounts of such practices recorded by various New World explorers frequently shocked OldWorld sensibilities and often served to reinforce Eurocentric notions of superiority over the indigenous “Other.” Rather than following this colonialist tradition of denigrating indigenous customs and belief systems, this book seeks to respectfully and dispassionately shed light on why such behaviors occurred in the Americas.