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Nature. 2000 Sep 7;407(6800):74-8.

Biochemical evidence of cannibalism at a prehistoric Puebloan site in southwestern Colorado.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver 80262, USA. marlarr@den-res.org

Abstract

The existence of cannibalism is one of the most controversial issues in the archaeology of the American Southwest. Disarticulated, cut-marked and heat-altered human remains from non-burial contexts at prehistoric Puebloan (Anasazi) archaeological sites in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest have been interpreted by some scholars as evidence of cannibalism. Osteological studies indicate that many of the disarticulated bodies found at these sites were processed in a manner consistent with food preparation. Opponents of this interpretation point out that non-cannibalistic practices such as secondary interment, corpse mutilation and ritualized witch executions might account for the assemblages. Osteological evidence alone does not document the actual ingestion of human flesh. Here we show consumption of human flesh did occur as demonstrated in preserved human waste containing identifiable human tissue remains from a site with osteological evidence of cannibalism.

Comment in

  • Talk of cannibalism. [Nature. 2000]
PMID:
10993075
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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