Talking Bones: Bioarchaeological Analysis of Individuals from Palpa

  • Elsa Tomasto Cagigao
Part of the Natural Science in Archaeology book series (ARCHAEOLOGY)


Bioarchaeology, the scientific discipline that studies past societies through human remains, has had an uneven development in Peru. One of the zones of lesser development has been the south coast, probably due to the lack of scientifically recovered collections accessible to investigators. Most studies centre on the skull: cranial deformations, trephinations, and trophy heads, but little is known about the biological characteristics and levels of adaptation of the prehistoric human populations that inhabited the area.

In this work we present the results of the osteological analysis of 198 individuals recovered from funerary contexts excavated by the Nasca–Palpa Archaeological Project. The levels of adaptation of Archaic, Paracas, Nasca, and Middle Horizon populations are evaluated through demography, comparative statures, spongiosclerosis, and trauma analysis. The tendencies found suggest that the best levels were achieved during the Archaic, and the worst in Paracas. Other important findings include a differential distribution of trauma among women and men in Paracas and Nasca times, suggesting gendered activities. Finally, there is a rising through time of trauma attributable to interpersonal violence, reaching the highest point in Nasca, when also two cases of possible child abuse are identified


Child Abuse Interpersonal Violence Human Remains Projectile Point Inferior Limb 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elsa Tomasto Cagigao
    • 1
  1. 1.Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) Departamento de HumanidadesSan MiguelPerú

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