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Human Sacrifice at Pachacamac

  • Peter Eeckhout (a1) and Lawrence Stewart Owens (a2)

Abstract

This is a study of the historical, archaeological, and anatomical/pathological evidence for human sacrifice at the Peruvian coastal site of Pachacamac during the Late Intermediate and Late Horizon Periods (A.D. 1000-1475 and 1475-1533). It highlights the problems associated with the identification of archaeological sacrifice, then goes on to summarize the pathological and cultural evidence from the site. The significance of this evidence is evaluated using not only traditional paradigms but also the notion of “deviant” burial; this is proposed as a formalized means of identifying archaeological sacrifice in collaboration with—and in the absence of—other indicators. Comparisons are carried out with selected sites and periods, and in both coastal and inland regions. Supplementary evidence from international contexts is also considered. The anatomical and contextual findings from Pachacamac reflect a shift from the somewhat sanguineous cultures such as the Nasca and the Moche, to the perfection-obsessed sacrificial modality of the Incas. The former seems to be concerned primarily with retainer burials and the punishment of enemies or opponents, which were offered to an uncertain eternity as a gesture to some higher power. The iconographic, archaeological, and anatomical evidence for sacrifice in these groups is commensurately dramatic. In the case of the Incas, the sacrifices were intended to bless objects or missions, give thanks, or to appeal for supernatural favors or assistance. We go on to propose—for the first time in Latin America—a theoretical framework for identifying and interpreting “deviant” burials in the Andean archaeological record.

Resumen

Este estudio trata de las evidencias históricas, arqueológicas y anatómicas/patológicas relacionadas con el sacrificio humano en el sitio peruano costeño de Pachacamac en los periodos Intermedio Tardio y Horizonte Tardio (1000-1475 y 1475-1533 dne). Se conocen muchas formas diferents del sacrificio en los Andes Centrales, y el tema ha sido discutido por varios autores, pero sin consenso sobre su definición. Luego de una breve presentación del sitio de investigaciones, empezemos por establecer criterios para definir el sacrificio humano, inspirandonos del estudio desta práctica en una serie de antiguas culturas y sociedades a traves del mundo. Esto nos llevo a sugerir que el sacrificio humano es cualquier matanza de un individuo por motivos rituales/ simbólicos, pues las intenciones específicas se encuentran por lo general fuera del alcanze del arqueólogo, especialmente en las culturas sin escritura como las del antiguo Perú. Continuamos con el problema de la identificación del sacrifico humano en el registro arqueológico, sea:? como identificar la practica sacrificical en base de las evidencias materiales ¿ Para esto, nos referimos al concepto de “entierro desviante”. Este concepto primero propuesto por Geake (1992) para la arqueología medieval inglesa se ha vuelto progresivamente un elemento crucial en el exámen de la muestra antropofísica. En terminos cortos, se refiere a la modalidad de la muerte de un individuo y/o la manera con la cual sus restos físicos se encuentran o han sido usados, y que nos dicen estos elementos respecto a las normas funerarias en la cultura a la cual pertenece el difunto. Aqui enfocamos en la identificación de una categoria de entierros desviantes: el sacrificio humano. La metodología que usamos con fines de identificar el sacrificio en nuestra muestra de Pachacamac combina las evidencias antropológicas y arqueológicas. Aparte de las evidencias anatómicas directas de traumatismo físico, hay muchas evidencias de entierros “desviantes” que ayudan para contextualizar los individuos traumatizados y también proporcionan un medio potencial para identificar gente sacrificados en ausencia de evidencias patológicas. Por lo tanto se puede usar tres combinaciones: (1) Traumatismo y Entierro Desviante; (2) Traumatismo sin Entierro Desviante; (3) Entierro Desviante sin Traumatismo. Esto nos lleva a introducir el concpeto de Individuos Potencialmente Sacrificados (PSIs en el texto): el análisis de la configuración anatómica y contextual de concepto PSI proporciona al investigador una base a partir de la cual se determina la probabilidad de sacrificio para cada individuo. Este marco teórico y metodológico se aplico a nuestro corpus de 181 excavados en Pachacamac. Respaldamos la propuesta de John Verano respecto a la existencia de dos patrones de sacrificio humano identificados en sitios prehispánicos Peruanos (niño o adolescentes como acompañantes o ofrendas para meta especial, y varones prisoneros sin tratamiento espécífico). Por otro lado, nuestra muestra sugiere alguna forma de dicotomia entre las tradiciones sacrificiales de la Costa Norte (sangrienta) y Central (no sangrienta).

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Human Sacrifice at Pachacamac

  • Peter Eeckhout (a1) and Lawrence Stewart Owens (a2)

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