Who Are These Dead? The Anthropology of Violence, Pit Structures, Power and Symbolism

Death in the Anasazi culture of the American southwest

John D. Cater


Cases of trauma-related violent death among the Anasazi culture of the American Southwest have been documented since the beginning of archaeological study in the region. Researchers have reported these deaths as having been caused through violent activities associated with warfare, cannibalism, witch execution, and violence against women. Although trauma-related death has been discussed cursorily for a long period of time, in recent years it has received much attention as a legitimate study in and of itself. Several books have been written that focus on the subjects of warfare and cannibalism among the Anasazi. This study seeks to further the inquiry into violent death by comparing trauma-related death to non-trauma-related death in the Anasazi culture. Specifically, this study seeks to identify patterns of behaviour preserved in the archaeological record between those who died traumatically and those who did not among these prehistoric people.