Victims of Sacrifice: Isotopic Evidence for Place of Origin

  • T. Douglas Price
  • James H. Burton
  • Lori E. Wright
  • Christine D. White
  • Fred Longstaffe
Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)

12.1. Introduction

Human sacrifice appears to have been a common practice throughout ancient Mesoamerica, as described in this volume. One question concerning victims of sacrifice involves the place of origin of these individuals. Were these indigenous members of local society whose lives were taken, or did foreign captives, slaves, or other persons fall victim to ceremonial execution? It is now possible to examine these questions using the chemistry of human bone to determine the place of origin of an individual.

In order to document the application of such methods, we offer several case studies of incidents of sacrifice at the Maya sites of Tikal, Kaminaljuyu, Copán, and Palenque, and at the Classic period city of Teotihuacan in the central highlands of Mexico. In the cases of the Maya sites, we examine the contents of tombs and the interred individuals. In several of these situations, a central figure is surrounded by other individuals, at least some of whom appear to have been...


Isotope Ratio Oxygen Isotope Tooth Enamel Strontium Isotope Oxygen Isotope Ratio 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



A number of individuals have contributed to this study in various ways. We would specifically like to thank Jane Buikstra, James Burton, Linda Manzanilla, Paul Fullager, Mike Spence, and Vera Tiesler. The National Science Foundation, Wenner Gren Foundation, Texas A&M University, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Canada Research Chairs Program have provided funding for the isotopic analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Douglas Price
    • 1
  • James H. Burton
    • 1
  • Lori E. Wright
    • 2
  • Christine D. White
    • 3
  • Fred Longstaffe
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory for ArchaeologicalChemistry, Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Wisconsin MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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