Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-559fc8cf4f-s65px Total loading time: 0.329 Render date: 2021-03-02T11:06:04.626Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

A Case of Historic Cannibalism in the American West: Implications for Southwestern Archaeology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Alison E. Rautman
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824
Todd W. Fenton
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824

Abstract

Discoveries of concentrated deposits of fragmentary human bone and their interpretation as evidence of cannibalism in the pre-Hispanic American Southwest have engaged archaeologists in a continuing debate. Forensic study of the victims in the historic Alferd [sic] Packer case from southern Colorado in the 1870s contributes to this discussion by providing detailed data regarding perimortem trauma, cut marks, and butchering patterns in a well-accepted case of mass murder and survival cannibalism. In particular, postmortem cut marks record a butchering strategy focused on filleting muscle tissue for immediate consumption; patterning of cut marks was structured by anatomy and also by cultural values. Contrasts between this historic case and the archaeological assemblages highlights the need for a more nuanced discussion of the cultural context and meaning of the archaeological cases. Interpretations of human skeletal remains arguably must begin with the view of “the body as artifact” and from a theoretical perspective defined largely by osteology and in comparison with zooarchaeological assemblages under various ecological conditions. At this point, however, the debate regarding Anasazi cannibalism would benefit from the addition of other anthropological perspectives, particularly those concerning the human body as a vehicle for the expression of cultural ideas and values.

Résumé

Résumé

Los descubrimientos de concentraciones de huesos humanos fragmentarios y su interpretación como evidencia de canibalismo en el Sudoeste prehispánico de los Estados Unidos ha comprometido a arqueólogos en un debate continuo. El estudio forense de las víctimas del caso histórico del Alferd (sic) Packer del Colorado meridional en los 1870's contribuye a esta discusión, proporcionando datos detallados con respecto a trauma perimortem, marcas de cortadas, y patrones de destazamiento en un caso bien-aceptado de asesinato masivo y canibalismo para la supervivencia. En particular, las marcas de cortadas post mortem registran una estrategia de destazamiento mediante rebanadas finas del músculo para el consumo inmediato. El patrón de las cortaduras obedeció a la anatomía y también a los valores culturales. Los contrastes entre este caso histórico y las colecciones arqueológicas destacan la necesidad de una discusión más matizada del contexto cultural y el significado de los casos arqueológicos. Las interpretaciones de los restos esqueléticos humanos deben comenzar con el punto de vista de “el cuerpo como artefacto”, y desde una perspectiva teórica definida en gran parte, por la osteología y en la comparación con colecciones zooarqueológicas bajo varias condiciones ecológicas. En este punto, sin embargo, el debate con respecto al canibalismo Anasazi se beneficiaría de la suma de otras perspectivas antropológicas, particularmente aquellas referentes al cuerpo humano como vehículo para la expresión de ideas y valores culturales.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 2005

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

References

Anderson, Bruce E. 1990 The Validity of the Artistic Depiction of the Victim’s Remains. American Academy of Forensic Sciences Publication 90:100.Google Scholar
Arens, William 1979 The Man-Eating Myth: Anthropology and Anthropophagy. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
Ayers, James E. 1990 Archaeology in the Pursuit of Forensic Truth. American Academy of Forensic Sciences Publication 90:99.Google Scholar
Bahn, Paul 1991 Is Cannibalism Too Much to Swallow ? New Scientist 130:3840.Google Scholar
Bahn, Paul 1992 Ancestral Cannibalism Gives Us Food for Thought:Review of Prehistoric Cannibalism, by T. D. White. New Scientist 134:4041.Google Scholar
Barnes, Barry 1995 The Elements of Social Theory. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barnes, Barry 2000 Understanding Agency: Social Theory and Responsible Action. Sage Publications, London.Google Scholar
Barrett, John C. 1994 Fragments from Antiquity: An Archaeology of Social Life in Britain, 2900-1200 B. C. Blackwell, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
Berryman, Hugh E., and Symes, Steven A. 1995 Recognizing Gunshot and Blunt Cranial Trauma Through Fracture Interpretation. In Forensic Osteology:Advances in the Identification of Human Remains, 2nd edition, edited by Reichs, K. J., pp. 333352. Charles, C. Thomas, Springfield. Illinois.Google Scholar
Billman, Brian R., Lambert, Patricia M., and Leonard, Banks L. 2000 Cannibalism, Warfare, and Drought in the Mesa Verde Region during the Twelfth Century A. D. American Antiquity 65:145178.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Binford, Lewis R. 1978 Nunamuit Ethnoarchaeology. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
Binford, Lewis R. 1981 Bones: Ancient Men and Modern Myths. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
Binford, Lewis R. 2000 Where Do Research Problems Come From? American Antiquity 66:669678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Birkby, Walter H. 1990 Gravesite and Laboratory Assessment of Skeletal Remains of the Five Members of the 1874 Packer Prospecting Party. American Academy of Forensic Sciences Publication 90:100.Google Scholar
Bullock, Peter 1991 A Reappraisal of Anasazi Cannibalism. Kiva 57:5-16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carson, E. Ann, Vincent, H. Stefan, and Joseph, F. Powell 2000 Skeletal Manifestations of Bear Scavenging. Journal of Forensic Sciences 45(3):515526.Google Scholar
Chesson, Meredith S. (Editor) 2001 Social Memory, Identity, and Death: Anthropological Perspectives on Mortuary Rituals. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association Number 10.Google Scholar
Curry, Andrew 2002 Case of the Colorado Cannibal. Archaeology May-June:50-53.Google Scholar
Darling, J. Andrew 1999 Mass Inhumation and the Execution of Witches in the American Southwest. American Anthropologist 100:732752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dongoske, Kurt E. , Debra L. Martin, and T. J. Ferguson, 2000 Critique of the Claim of Cannibalism at Cowboy Wash. American Antiquity 65:179190.Google Scholar
Doyel, David E. 1980 Hohokam Social Organization and the Sedentary to Classic Transition. In Current Issues in Hohokam Prehistory:Proceedings of a Symposium, edited by Doyeland, D. E. Fred, T. Plog, pp. 2340. Anthropological Research Papers No. 23. Arizona State University, Tempe.Google Scholar
Egeland, Charles P., Hill, Matthew, and Byerly, Ryan 2002 Archaeological vs. Experimental Manifestations of Large Mammal Butchery: Increasing the Reliability of Inferences of Prehistoric Subsistence Behavior. Paper presented at the Society for American Archaeology Meetings, Denver, CO. (forthcoming in Plains Anthropologist) Google Scholar
Fenton, Todd W 1990 Cut Marks on the Recovered Bones from the Packer Prospecting Party. American Academy of Forensic Sciences Publication 90:100.Google Scholar
Fenton, Todd W, and Rautman, Alison E. 2002 A Case of Survival Cannibalism in the American West:Implications for Southwestern Archaeology. Paper presentedat the 67th Annual Meetings of me Society for American Archaeology, Denver, Colorado.Google Scholar
Friesen, T. Max 2001 A Zoo-archaeological Signature for Meat Storage: Rethinkingthe Drying Utility Index. American Antiquity 66(2):315331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Foucault, Michel 1972 The Archaeology of Knowledge. Pantheon, New York.Google Scholar
Foucault, Michel 1977 Discipline and Punish. Pantheon, New York.Google Scholar
Foucault, Michel 1978 The History of Sexuality. Pantheon, New York.Google Scholar
Galloway, Alison 1999 Fracture Patterns and Skeletal Morphology: Introductionand the Skull. In Broken Bones: Anthropological Analysis of Blunt Force Trauma, edited by Alison, Galloway, pp. 6380. Charles, C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois.Google Scholar
Garn, Stanley M., and Block, Walter D. 1970 The Limited Nutritional Value of Cannibalism. American Anthropologist 72:106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ginsburg, Faye, and Tsing (editors), Anne L. 1990 Uncertain Terms: Negotiating Gender in American Culture. Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
Goldman, Laurence R. (Editor) 1999 The Anthropology of Cannibalism. ergin and Garvey, Westport, Connecticut.Google Scholar
Grayson, Donald K. 1990 Donner Party Deaths: A Demographic Assessment. Journal of Anthropological Research 46:223242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haag, Lucien C. 1990 A Toolmark Examiner's Analysis of the Cutmarks onthe Packer Victims’ Bones. American Academy of Forensic Sciences Publication 90:100.Google Scholar
Hardesty, Donald L. 1997 The Archaeology of the Donner Party. University of Nevada Press, Reno.Google Scholar
Hill, Matthew G. 2001 Paleoindian Diet and Subsistence Behavior on the Northwestern Great Plains of North America. Ph. D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison.Google Scholar
Hill, Willard W. 1938 The Agricultural and Hunting Methods of the Navaho Indians. Yale University Publications in Anthropology 18. New Haven, Connecticut.Google Scholar
Humphrey, Joshua H., and Hutchinson, Dale L. 2001 Macroscopic Characteristics of Hacking Trauma. Journal of Forensic Sciences 46(2):228233.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hurlbut, Sharon A. 2000 The Taphonomy of Cannibalism: A Review of Anthropogenic Bone Modification in the American Southwest. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 10:426.3.0.CO;2-Q>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnson, Matthew H. 1989 Conceptions of Agency in Archaeological Interpretation. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 8:189211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kantner, John 1999a Anasazi Mutilation and Cannibalism in the American Southwest. In The Anthropology of Cannibalism, edited by Goldman, Laurence R., pp. 75104. Bergin and Garvey, Westport, Connecticut.Google ScholarPubMed
Kantner, John 1999b Survival Cannibalism or Sociopolitical Intimidation?Explaining Perimortem Mutilation in the American Southwest. Human Nature 10:150.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kelly, Raymond C. 2000 Warless Societies and the Origin of War. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lambert, Patricia M., Billman, Brian R., and Leonard, Banks L. 2000 Explaining Variability in Mutilated Human Bone Assemblages from the American Southwest: A Case Studyfrom the Southern Piedmont of Sleeping Ute Mountain, Colorado. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 10:4994.3.0.CO;2-B>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Le Blanc, Steven A. 1999 Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.Google Scholar
Leechman, Douglas 1951 Bone Grease. American Antiquity 16:355356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leonard, Banks L., Lambert, Patricia M., and Marlar, Richard A. 2001 Cannibalism, Witch-killing, Parsimony, and Empiricism. Paper presented at the 66th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, New Orleans.Google Scholar
Lock, Margaret 2002 Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death. University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
Lyman, R. Lee 1987 Archaeofaunas and Butchery Studies: A Taphonomic Perspective. In Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory, vol. 10, edited by Schiffer, Michael B., 249-337. Academic Press, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Maschner, Herbert D. G., and Reedy-Maschner, Katherine L. 2003 Building an N-Dimensional Anthropology. Anthropology News December:45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McGuire, James E., and Tuchanska, Barbara 2000 Science Unfettered. Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio.Google Scholar
Meskell, Lynn 2000 Writing the Body in Archaeology. In Reading the Body:Representations and Remains in the Archaeological Record, edited by Rautman, Alison E., pp. 1324. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
Metcalfe, Duncan, and Jones, Kevin T. 1988 A Reconsideration of Animal Body Part Utility Indices. American Antiquity 53:486504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Minnis, Paul E. 1985 Social Adaptation to Food Stress:A Prehistoric Southwestern Example. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
Nass, G. Gisela, and F. Bellantoni, Nicholas 1982 A Prehistoric Multiple Burial from Monument Valley Evidencing Trauma and Possible Cannibalism. Kiva 47:257271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ogilvie, Marsha D., and Hilton, Charles E. 2000 A Case of Ritualized Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 10:2748.3.0.CO;2-M>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Olsen, Stanley L., and Shipman, Pat 1994 Cutmarks and Perimortem Treatment of Skeletal Remains on the Northern Plains. In Skeletal Biology in the Great Plains: A Multidisciplinary View, edited by Owsley, D. and Jantz, R., pp. 377387. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D. C. Google Scholar
Preston, Dennis 1998 Cannibals of the Canyon. The New Yorker, 30 November:76-89.Google Scholar
Raemsch, Carol A. 1993 Mechanical Procedures Involved in Bone Dismembermentand Defleshing in Prehistoric Michigan. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 18:217244.Google Scholar
Rautman, Alison E. (Editor) 2000 Reading the Body: Representations and Remains in the Archaeology Record. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rautman, Alison E., and Fenton, Todd W. 2001 Anthropological Perspectives on Anasazi Cannibalism:From Forensics to Foucault. Paper presented at the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington, D. C. Google Scholar
Read, Piers Paul 2002 Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors. Reprinted. Avon Books, New York. Originally published 1974, Lipincott Williams and Wilkins, Hagerstown, Maryland.Google Scholar
Reed, Erik K. 1981 Human Skeletal Material. In Contributions to Gran Quivira Archeology , edited by Alden, C. Hayes, pp. 75118. National Park Service Publications in Archaeology No. 17. U. S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D. C. Google Scholar
Shanks, Michael, and Tilley, Christopher 1981 Ideology, Symbolic Power and Ritual Communication:A Reinterpretation of Neolithic Mortuary Practices. In The Archaeology of Contextual Meaning, edited by Ian, Hodder, pp. 129154. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Speth, John D. 1983 Bison Kills and Bone Counts: Decision Making by Ancient Hunters. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
Speth, John D. 2000 Boiling vs. Baking and Roasting: A Taphonomic Approach to the Recognition of Cooking Techniques in Small Mammals. In Animal Bones, Human Societies, edited by Peter, Rowley-Conwy, pp. 89105. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
Speth, John D., and Rautman, Alison E. 2004 Bison Hunting at the Henderson Site. In Life on the Periphery: Economic Change in Late Prehistoric Southeastern New Mexico, edited by Speth, John D., pp. 98148. University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology Memoirs No. 37. Ann Arbor, Michigan.Google Scholar
Starrs, James 1990 Why Alferd Packer? The Causes for the Dig Fever. American Academy of Forensic Sciences Publication 90:99.Google Scholar
Starrs, James, and Ramsland, Katherine M. 2005 A Voice for the Dead: A Forensic Investigator's Pursuit of the Truth in the Grave. Putnam Publishing Group, New York.Google Scholar
Turner, Christy G., II 1983 Taphonomic Reconstructions of Human Violence and Cannibalism Based on Mass Burials in the American Southwest. In Carnivores, Human Scavengers and Human Predators: A Question of Bone Technology, edited by Le Moine, G. M. and Mac Eachern, A. S., pp. 219240. University of Calgary Archaeological Association, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.Google Scholar
Christy G., Turner, II, and Turner, Jacqueline A. 1999 Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.Google Scholar
Tuzin, Donald, and Brown, Paula (editors) 1983 The Ethnography of Cannibalism. Society for Psychological Anthropology, Washington, D. C. Google Scholar
Verdery, Katherine 1999 The Political Lives of Dead Bodies: Reburial and Postsocialist Change. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
Villa, Paul 1992 Cannibalism in Prehistoric Europe. Evolutionary Anthropology 1:93104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
White, Tim D. 1990 Prehistoric Cannibalism at Mancos 5MTURMR-2346. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 53 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th January 2017 - 2nd March 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

A Case of Historic Cannibalism in the American West: Implications for Southwestern Archaeology
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

A Case of Historic Cannibalism in the American West: Implications for Southwestern Archaeology
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

A Case of Historic Cannibalism in the American West: Implications for Southwestern Archaeology
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *