Debra L Martin

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Nevada, Las Vegas, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9707

Approve Date

October 5, 2018

Project Title

Martin, Dr. Debra, U. of Nevada. Las Vegas, NV - To aid research on 'Contextualizing Massacres in Small Scale Societies: A Pueblo Case Study'

Preliminary abstract: Massacres represent a unique form of violence with a very deep history in early human groups. Massacres are distinct from homicides, raiding, and warfare in that massacres often include three unique features: First is the complete annihilation of the bodies of the victims. Second is that the victims generally include men, women, children, and often companion animals. Finally, massacres are often spectacles meant to be seen by witnesses (human and supernatural). In the U.S. Southwest, disarticulated (annhilated) human remains have been associated with over a hundred Pueblo archaeological sites dating from AD 800 to 1400 in the geographic region of the Colorado Plateau. These assemblages have been understudied and attributed in the literature to warfare, raiding, and/or cannibalism. Although some researchers have countered these conclusions with alternative hypotheses, there has not been a systematic and focused re-analysis of disarticulated remains in a systematic way. A preliminary re-analysis by the applicant and her PhD students of two collections purported to ‘prove’ cannibalism demonstrated that the various patterns of breakage and cutmarks on the remains were better explained within the context of massacres. This project is designed to re-analyze several pivotal collections still available for study at three repositories (Smithsonian, AMNH, and Maxwell Museum). Using a more refined and contextualized approach, the hypothesis that these assemblages are the result of massacres (and not cannibalism) can be addressed. Also, these mass killings will be mapped on to key features of Pueblo ideology regarding the environment and social well-being. Understanding the context of and motivation for massacres in non-state groups forms a baseline for better understanding the origins and evolution of particular forms of violence.