Sacrificial Tribute Reconsidered: New Dental and Isotope Evidence of Biological Distance and Place of Origin for Sacrificial Burial Groups at Cahokia’s Mound 72

Andrew Thompson, Kristin M. Hedman

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther

Abstract

Many theories related to the significance of Mound 72 at Cahokia center on the importance of human sacrificial tribute as evidence of Cahokia’s power and influence over surrounding communities. Two of the larger burial groups thought to represent sacrificial offerings are F105, a mass burial containing over fifty mostly female individuals, and F229-lower, a group of haphazardly deposited individuals with evidence of violent trauma that were interred beneath a row of presumably high-status burials placed on cedar litters (F229-upper). The unique burial context of F229-lower led to speculation that these individuals were non- local, warfare related captives. However, biodistance analyses conducted in the early 1970s provided unexpected results: while individuals in F105 stood out as being non-local, F229-lower burials did not. In this study, we reevaluate these findings using strontium isotope (87Sr/86Sr) and phenotypic dental data. Results of the dental biodistance studies contradict the earlier findings and suggest that F105 individuals were local to the American Bottom while F229-lower individuals are biological outliers. Preliminary strontium isotope data corroborate these findings. This new information provides an alternative perspective on the mortuary events that unfolded at early Cahokia.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages748
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • ISAS

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