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Unformatted text preview: 438 Table 1. Settlement in the Nasca Drainage Horizon or Period Culture Name Phase Approximate Date Late Horizon Inca AD 14761532 Late Intermediate Period Tiza AD 10001476 Middle Horizon Wari, Loro 8, 9 AD 7501000 Early Intermediate Period Late Nasca 6, 7 AD 550750 Middle Nasca 5 AD 450550 Early Nasca 2, 3, 4 AD 1450 Early Horizon Proto-Nasca 1 100 BCAD 1 Paracas 800100 BC Initial Period 1800800 BC Archaic 90001800 BC Decapitation and Rebirth A Headless Burial from Nasca, Peru Christina A. Conlee Department of Anthropology, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX 78666, U.S.A. (firstname.lastname@example.org). 9 I 07 Decapitation was a common type of ritual sacrifice in the ancient Andes. Images of disembodied heads and decapitation were ubiquitous in the art of the Nasca culture, and the large numbers of physical remains of trophy heads found in the archaeological record of the area are unprecedented. However, few headless bodies have been recovered in the region. A burial from the site of La Tiza is the first documented de- capitated burial that dates to Middle Nasca, a time of cultural transition. The debate over the role of decapitation and tro- phy heads centers on whether these heads were taken in battle or were members of the community offered up for ritual sacrifice. Regardless of who these individuals were, it is evident that decapitation and keeping of trophy heads were central to rituals of renewal. The La Tiza burial was associated with an earlier cemetery and habitation area, suggesting a relationship between rituals of fertility and regeneration and the role of the ancestors. Human sacrifice is well documented in many ancient Andean societies, and historical accounts, iconography, and physical remains attest to the central role in sacrifice of decapitation. The Inca preserved and modified the heads of enemies and recognized the head as the most essential part of the body (Benson 2001, 5; Verano 1995, 219). The head was viewed by some Andean cultures as a source of power that ensured good harvests and symbolized rebirth (Proulx 2001, 135). Depic- tions of decapitation and disembodied heads are common in the regions iconography. Much of the decapitation imagery involves supernatural beings. Indeed, decapitation at the hands of supernaturals appears to be the most pervasive An- dean metaphor for ritual death (Verano 1995, 219). The severed heads of pre-Columbian art are known as tro- phy heads. Many pre-Hispanic cultures have trophy-head iconography, but fewer have physical evidence of the practice. Burials of heads have been found at many sites in the Andes, including the Preceramic site of Asia, the Early Horizon tem- ple site of Chavin, a Formative-period site in northern Chile, the Moche capital, and two large Wari administrative sites (Burger 1984; Engel 1963; McEwan 1987; Rivera 1991; Verano 1995; Verano et al. 1999). Nowhere have more trophy heads been found than in the Nasca culture (AD 1750) of the...
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2011 for the course ANTH 201 taught by Professor Vaughn during the Fall '10 term at Purdue University-West Lafayette.
- Fall '10