Skip to comments.Trophy Skull Sheds Light on Ancient Wari Empire
Posted on 01/24/2007 4:48:10 PM PST by blam
Trophy Skull Sheds Light on Ancient Wari Empire
Earthwatch volunteers working with Dr. Mary Glowacki (Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research) in Peru unearthed a previously unknown cemetery and found a trophy skull from the Wari civilization. The finds give researchers further insight into the rise and fall of the Wari Empire that lived high in the Andes 1,500 to 1,000 years ago.
Courtesy of Mary Glowacki
Earthwatch-supported archaeologist Dr. Mary Glowacki (Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research) holds a vessel excavated from an elite cemetary at the ancient Wari site of Cotocotuyoc. Spectacular finds include the "trophy" skull of a warrior that had been modified for public display.
Newswise A team of archaeologists and Earthwatch volunteers led by Dr. Mary Glowacki and Louis Tesar uncovered an elite Wari cemetery at Cotocotuyoc this past summer in Perus Huaro Valley, near Cuzco. Among their finds was a trophy skull, which offers insight into warfare in the Wari Empire based here from 1,500 to 1,000 years ago.
The trophy skull was found in what the archaeologists consider the VIP area of the cemetery. Special placement of llama bones, a distinguishing feature of Wari remains, alerted the archaeologists and volunteers that something special might be underneath. The skull had a large circular hole cut in its base, suggesting that it may have been put or held on a pole. A large hole in the back of the skull indicates that it may have been worn during special ceremonies like a large pendant. The skull also features a line cut across the frontal bone, which indicates removal of the scalp possibly for the cleaning, perhaps for use as a ceremonial vessel, and was later reattached to the skull with gold alloy pins.
The skull was likely that of a warrior, as indicated by the many scars and abrasions on various parts of the skull that showed evidence of healing. Archaeologists estimate the man was around the age of 30 at his death, and that he must have been a warrior of repute for the Wari to remove his head and display the skull.
The trophy skull adds a new dimension to our understanding of the role of warriors and warfare in Wari culture, says Glowacki, principal investigator of Earthwatchs Archaeology of Perus Wari Empire expedition. Volunteers may join Glowacki to help unearth more of cemetery this summer on the expedition. I hope to be able to find the edges of the cemetery. We think we know where the center is, but dont know how far it goes, says Glowacki.
In addition to the trophy skull, the excavation teams also found whole ceramic pots accompanying the tombs of women in other parts of the cemetery. The teams have only uncovered one definitive male in the cemetery, and Glowacki suspects that he was probably a guardian since his remains show many injuries and his stone-lined burial tomb was built into the cemetery wall. Some of the ceramic vessels were elaborately decorated with owls, which early historic records indicate were the alter ego of female shamans elsewhere in Peru.
While another Wari cemetery was discovered some years ago nearby in Huaro, the burials at Cotocotuyoc are unique. The Cotocotuyoc cemetery demonstrates a very early Wari presence in the valley. Cotocotuyoc, which sits high above the Huaro Valley floor, is believed to have later served as a stronghold for the Wari as their political control weakened and the empire eventually collapsed.
Earthwatch Institute is a global volunteer organization that supports scientific research by offering members of the public unique opportunities to work alongside leading field scientists and researchers. Founded in 1971, Earthwatchs mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.
These findings and others will be presented at a symposium entitled The Wari and Their Descendants: Imperial Transformation in Cuzco, Peru, at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) in Austin, Texas, in April 2007.
For more information on how to volunteer on Archaeology of Perus Wari Empire, go to http://www.earthwatch.org/expeditions/glowacki.html
Please include the web site url for Earthwatch Institute (http://www.earthwatch.org) in any story based on this release so that your readers can find out more.
But...but...I thought the indigenous peoples of the world lived in peace and harmony with their environment and their neighbors, and it was only the coming of the evil white man that introduced war to them?
I'm just baffled by this totally unexpected discovery.
Exactly what I was thinking.
The word is CEMETERY. For cripes' sake!
By the way, it's "i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-E-n-c-e." No "A".
Granted, a cemetery may be an ossuary, but it's not necessary.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
These 40 greenstone carvings with distinctive dress and headgear are one of two such sets found in ceremonial caches in the Wari city of Pikillacta in Peru. Twenty of the figures in each set are identical, leading expert Anita Cook to suggest they represent the founders of the Wari Empire. Theyre evidence of the Waris ancestor worship, says Cook. The Wari believed their ancestors were the link between everyday life and the supernatural world.
Twenty figures in each set are identical...maybe because they were characters used in a board-game?
Be vewy vewy wari because today we're hunting wabbits.
Hummmmm, the first chess pieces?
BTW, the earliest known board games date back to almost 6,000 BC.
ancient board games site.
Artifact from the Tribute find.
Moche Lizard bowl
Different, but somehow similar. They certainly knew how to make beautiful pottery.
Thanks. Nice addition.
This masonry wall, with an adorned entryway, also served as an aqueduct for the canal (details below), that transported water for the great city of Huari, Piquillakta, upper Urubamba valley, Cusco, Peru.
Investigations further demonstrate that Cotocotuyoc was defensive in nature, and that it likely became a stronghold for the Wari as the valley occupation destabilized and finally collapsed. The use and abandonment of Cotocotuyoc may be associated with a shift in its water supply, a canal system linking the site to hillside springs
clickable link to canal site. Why did the image disappear?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.