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Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (BS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
This thesis is an examination of a controversial problem in anthropology and archaeology – the motives and cultural context of anthropophagy, or cannibalism. Views that the practice was a reflection of a primitive state of humanity have given way to a more ethnographically-informed appreciation of the practice as culturally situated with a diverse set of potential motives. Claims of anthropophagy in the ancient past influence perceptions of both prehistoric and modern groups. Because of the wealth of information gathered from recent excavations, it is now possible to explore the context of, motives for, and consequences of anthropophagy in the American Southwest.
The main goal of this thesis is to attempt to determine the causes of anthropophagy in Southwestern Colorado from 1130-1180 AD by comparing archaeological sites in this area of southwestern Colorado believed to contain several incidents of anthropophagy. Evidence from multiple aspects of ecology and material culture will be examined in an attempt to explain why anthropophagy and social violence as a whole was so prevalent in this region at the time. This will involve determining what type of anthropophagy is present, and which communities are the victims and which the perpetrators of the violence.
Smith, Riley, "Explaining Anthropophagy and Social Violence in the Mesa Verde Region of the American Southwest" (2018). Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current. 529.