Images of disembodied heads are widespread in the art of Nasca, a culture based on the southern coast of Peru from AD 1 to AD 750.But despite this evidence and large numbers of trophy heads in the region’s archaeological record, only eight headless bodies have been recovered with evidence of decapitation, explains Christina A. Conlee (Texas State University).Conlee’s analysis of a newly excavated headless body from the site of La Tiza provides important new data on decapitation and its relationship to ancient ideas of death and regeneration.
outlines in the June issue of Current Anthropology, the third vertebrae
of the La Tiza skeleton has darkcut marks, rounded edges, and no
evidence of flaking or breakage, indicating decapitation occurred at or
very soon after the time of death.
A ceramic jar decorated with an
image of a head was placed next to the body. The head has a tree with
eyes growing out of it, the branches encircling the vessel.
"Ritual battles often take
place just before plowing for potato planting, and trees and unripened
fruit figure in these rituals, in which the shedding of blood is
necessary to nourish the earth to produce a good harvest," Conlee
writes. "The presence of scalp cuts on Nasca trophy heads suggests the
letting of blood was an important part of the ritual that resulted in
Conlee also points to
damage on the jar that indicates it had already been handled and used
before being included in the tomb. This was only the third headjar
found with a headless skeleton. Most are found at domestic sites, and
prior research has concluded that they were probably used to drink
from, most likely in connection with fertility rituals. "If the head
jar was used to drink from during fertility rituals, then its inclusion
in the burial further strengthens the relationship between decapitation
and rebirth," Conlee explains.
Notably, there is also no
evidence of habitation in the La Tiza region during the Middle Nasca
period (AD 450-550), to which the head jar dates. All of the Nasca
domestic sites in the area date to the Early Nasca, indicating that the
La Tiza skeleton may have been deliberately buried in an abandoned
settlement that was associated with the ancestors.
"Human sacrifice and
decapitation were part of powerful rituals that would have allayed
fears by invoking theances......
Peru's ancient spiral-tailed monkey is losing its tail. Extensive high-resolution aerial photos of the famed Nazca Lines taken by Peru's air force showed destruction Thursday that conservationists have long feared. Tire tracks and disregard for the site are irreparably scarring the mysterious lines and animal figures that a pre-Columbian civilization etched into a 56-kilometre stretch of Peru's southern desert centuries ago. In the first comprehensiveaerial photos taken by Peru'...Japanese researchers find new giant picture on Peru's Nazca Plateau
A new giant picture on the Nazca Plateau in Peru, which is famous for giant patterns that can be seen from the air, has been discovered by a team of Japanese researchers.The image is 65 meters long, and appears to be an animal with horns. It is thought to have been drawn as a symbol of hopes for good crops, but there are no similar patterns elsewhere, and the type of the animal remains unclear. The discovery marks the first time since the 1980s that a picture other than a geometrical...Archaeologist finds ancient Nasca iron ore mine
A purdue university archaeologist discovered an intact ancient iron ore mine in South America that shows how civilizations before the Inca Empire were mining this valuable ore. "Archaeologists know people in the Old and New worlds have mined minerals for thousands and thousands of years," said Kevin J. Vaughn, an assistant professor of anthropology who studies the Nasca civilization, which existed from A.D. 1 to A.D. 750. "Iron mining in the Old World, specifically in Africa, goes back 40,000 ye...Peru's Nazca lines under threat
A tiny, hand-painted sign mounted on a flimsy barbed wire fence warns visitors to Peru's Nazca lines: "No entry. Area off-limits." It's not much of a deterrent. The latest threat to the vast U.N. World Heritage site where the enigmatic shapes and lines, stylized figures of birds and animals were etched in the desert some 2,000 years ago, is a camp of around 30 shacks that appeared in August. The rudimentary straw-matting huts are pitched in the dry earth on the fringe of a prot...New Nazca line picture discovered
A new giant picture on the Nazca Plateau in Peru, which is famous for giant patterns that can be seen from the air, has been discovered by a team of Japanese researchers. The image is 65 meters long, and appears to be an animal with horns. It is thought to have been drawn as a symbol of hopes for good crops, but there are no similar patterns elsewhere, and the type of the animal remains unclear.The discovery marks the first time since the 1980s that a picture other than a geometrical pattern has...Heavy rains alter Peru's famed Nazca Lines
They don't look much from the ground. But these are the Nasca Lines: one of Peru's top tourist attractions. These giant figures that are etched in the desert are so large they can only fully be appreciated from the sky. Every year around 80,000 people fly over them, marvelling at images like the monkey with its curly tail or the delicately-carvedhummingbird. Nobody knows exactly why the Nasca people carved hundreds of lines and dozens of figures over 1,000 years ago, but there has been ...Two new geoglyphs found in Nazca
Scientists have identified two new geoglpyhs of a human head and an animal in Nazca, Peru.Situated close to the Nazca Lines the new geoglyphs are thought to have been missed previously due to their small sizes of between three and four metres in length. The team had previously uncovered almost one hundred glyphs carved in to thedesert in 2006. The newgeoglyphs depict a human head and an animal figure that the researchers have yet to identify, state news agency Andina reported. . ...Nazca photographs deepen mystery
The Nazca Lines have been a source of mystery and dispute since their discovery in southern Peru nearly a century ago. So why should the latest find be any different? Japanese enthusiasts recently released new aerial photographs of figures etched in the ground of the Nazca region, adding a fresh dollop of wonder to the giant geometric patterns and animal drawings that scientists say the Nazca Indians created as many as 2,000 years ago. Peruvian officials expressed excitement about the announceme...Priests may have designed Nazca lines
High priests at an ancient religious compound in southern Peru may have designed the mysterious Nazca lines, a set of huge geometric patterns, animal figures and long lines etched in the desert, the area's top archaeologist said. Researchers say the Cahua-chi compound, built in 400 B.C., is just across the Nazca Valley from the lines, one of Peru's most popular tourist attractions and a U.N. World Heritage site. "It islogical to think that the Nazca people's religious beliefs or...