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Violence, Ritual, and the Wari Empire

A Social Bioarchaeology of Imperialism in the Ancient Andes

Tiffiny A. Tung

Publication Year: 2012

The Wari Empire thrived in the Peruvian Andes between AD 600 and 1000. This study of human skeletons reveals the biological and social impact of Wari imperialism on people's lives, particularly its effects on community organization and frequency of violence of both ruling elites and subjects.

The Wari state was one of the first politically centralized civilizations in the New World that expanded dramatically as a product of its economic and military might. Tiffiny Tung reveals that Wari political and military elites promoted and valorized aggressive actions, such as the abduction of men, women, and children from foreign settlements. Captive men and children were sacrificed, dismembered, and transformed into trophy heads, while non-local women received different treatment relative to the men and children.

By inspecting bioarchaeological data from skeletons and ancient DNA, as well as archaeological data, Tung provides a better understanding of how the empire's practices affected human communities, particularly in terms of age/sex structure, mortuary treatment, use of violence, and ritual processes associated with power and bodies.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xi


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p. xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

Among the most interesting of the complex societies that arose in ancient South America was the Wari Empire, the first to emerge, rise, and fall in the Andes. During its reign from approximately AD 600 to AD 1000, this empire and the political forces that organized and maintained it had gained influence over a vast expanse of territory, ...

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pp. xv-xviii

A goal of this book is to implement what I call a “bioarchaeology of imperialism,” which aims to document how archaic states and empires affected demographic profiles, community organization, population health, incidences of violence, and funerary and ritual treatment of human bodies. ...

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pp. xix-xxvi

The data presented in this book results from some 40 months of field and lab work in Arequipa and Ayacucho, Peru. The work was supported by various granting agencies to which I am extremely grateful. Those include the following: Fulbright IIE Fellowship, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Grant No. 6680 and 8169), ...

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Chaper 1: Introduction to Wari

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pp. 1-8

Approximately 1,400 years ago, two women were buried at the Wari site of Conchopata in the central Peruvian Andes. One was painstakingly covered in rich, red cinnabar and buried with other individuals in an elaborate mausoleum filled with beautifully decorated ceramics and gold, silver, and copper artifacts. ...

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Chaper 2: Bioarchaeology of Imperialism and Violence

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pp. 9-23

Bioarchaeology—the study of human remains and associated contexts recovered from archaeology sites—is well suited to examine how ancient forms of imperialism shaped the health outcomes and lifeways of individuals in an imperial domain. It is also ideal for evaluating the relationship between imperialism and violence, ...

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Chaper 3: The Wari Empire in the Andean World

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pp. 24-55

The Wari Empire expanded from its capital, the site of Huari, in the Ayacucho Basin of modern-day Peru to encompass huge swaths of Andean lands, from pockets of coastal regions to vast sections of productive midvalley agricultural lands and smaller areas of high-altitude mountain zones. ...

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Chaper 4: Wari Community Organization: Demography, Migration, and Mortuary Treatment

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pp. 56-98

Imperial policies can affect the population composition of subject communities in a variety of ways. The imperial power may relocate populations and aggregate them, similar to that imposed on native populations during the time of congregación (or reducción) in early colonial Spanish Florida (Worth 2001) and early colonial Peru (Gade and Escobar 1982; Málaga Medina 1974). ...

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Chaper 5: Violence and Skeletal Trauma among Wari Communities

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pp. 99-150

Wari iconography is replete with images of warriors carrying weapons, wearing trophy heads, or holding prisoners—images that hint at the value placed on militarism and belligerence. As such, it is imperative to evaluate if and how those apparent values were manifested and to what ends. ...

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Chaper 6: Corporeal Icons of Wari Imperialism: Human Trophy Heads and Their Representations

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pp. 151-201

In light of the militaristic iconography on Wari artifacts, as well as the violence that affected Wari communities, I explore how Wari militarism was integrated into other aspects of Wari social and political life, if at all. Did the Wari state sponsor celebratory rituals of military accomplishments, as other ancient and modern states have done? ...

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Chaper 7: Conclusions: Life and Death in the Wari World

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pp. 202-214

The policies and practices of the Wari Empire profoundly affected certain aspects of morbidity and lifestyle of both the conquering and the subject populations. They not only impacted disease and trauma rates but also affected ritual and mortuary practices and forms of social organization, resulting from and contributing to the reshuffling of political, social, and economic networks. ...


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pp. 215-216


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pp. 217-236


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pp. 237-244

E-ISBN-13: 9780813040493
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813037677
Print-ISBN-10: 0813037670

Page Count: 270
Illustrations: 66 b&w illustrations, 17 tables
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 774600387
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Violence, Ritual, and the Wari Empire

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Huari Indians -- Antiquities.
  • Huari Indians -- Rites and ceremonies.
  • Social structure -- Peru.
  • Human remains (Archaeology) -- Peru.
  • Human skeleton -- Analysis -- Peru.
  • Imperialism -- Social aspects -- Peru.
  • Social archaeology -- Peru.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Peru.
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