Violent Wounds Examined on 2,500-Year-Old Bones From Peru

News March 29, 2024

Peru Skull Traumatic Injuries
(Luis Pezo-Lanfranco)
Peru Skull Traumatic Injuries

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL—According to a statement released by the São Paulo Research Foundation, the skeletons of 67 individuals who were buried in a cemetery in Peru’s Supe Valley of the Central Andes between 500 and 400 B.C., shortly after the time of the collapse of the Chavín culture, have been analyzed. Bioarchaeologist Luis Pezo-Lanfranco said that 80 percent of the adults and adolescents in the study had traumatic injuries, including wounds to the skull, face, and chest, with no signs of survival or healing. Such wounds had also been inflicted upon children, he added. “Our hypothesis is that a group of strangers came to the community and committed the murders,” Pezo-Lanfranco explained. “After the aggressors left, the murder victims were buried by their own people with the usual funeral rites, as suggested by the burial patterns.” Some of the remains also showed signs of healed wounds, indicating that the individuals had previously survived a violent encounter. Meanwhile, the overall condition of the bones suggests that the people experienced physical stresses and infectious diseases, perhaps brought on by increased competition and a resulting shortage of resources during the turbulent period of the collapse. To read about a culture in the Supe Valley that is often considered the first city-building civilization in the Americas, go to "Around the World: Peru."

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