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Social Sciences - Anthropology & Archaeology | The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians

The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians

Chacon, Richard J., Dye, David H. (Eds.)

2008, XVII, 680 p.

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  • Filling the gap in literature on Amerindian human trophy taking, it is remarkable that there has been only one previous (and now dated) scholarly work specifically addressing this topic on a continent-wide basis
  • Presents cases of this practice throughout North and South America
  • Demonstrates that evidence of this phenomenon can be found in many other cultures and places in ancient and recent time making it a human proclivity toward ritual violence, not a "Native" one

The Amerindian (American Indian or Native American – reference to both North and South America) practice of taking and displaying various body parts as trophies has long intrigued both the research community as well as the public. As a subject that is both controversial and politically charged, it has also come under attack as a European colonists’ perspective intended to denigrate native peoples.

What this collection demonstrates is that the practice of trophy-taking predates European contact in the Americas but was also practiced in other parts of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia) and has been practiced prehistorically, historically and up to and including the twentieth century.

This edited volume mainly focuses on this practice in both North and South America. The editors and contributors (which include Native Peoples from both continents) examine the evidence and causes of Amerindian trophy taking as reflected in osteological, archaeological, ethnohistoric and ethnographic accounts. Additionally, they present objectively and discuss dispassionately the topic of human proclivity toward ritual violence.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Amerindian - Archaic period in North America - Evolution - Glas - Human trophy taking - Mesoamerica - North and South America - Ritual - Vor- und Frühgeschichte - complexity - inca - mayans - native peoples

Related subjects » Anthropology & Archaeology - Religious Studies

Table of contents 

North America.- to Human Trophy Taking.- Heads, Women, and the Baubles of Prestige.- Human Trophy Taking on the Northwest Coast.- Ethnographic and Linguistic Evidence for the Origins of Human Trophy Taking in California.- Head Trophies and Scalping.- Human Finger and Hand Bone Necklaces from the Plains and Great Basin.- Predatory War and Hopewell Trophies.- “Otinontsiskiaj ondaon” (“The House of Cut-Off Heads”).- Human Trophy Taking in Eastern North America During the Archaic Period.- Severed Heads and Sacred Scalplocks.- Disabling the Dead.- Trophy Taking in the Central and Lower Mississippi Valley.- Latin America.- Captive Sacrifice and Trophy Taking Among the Ancient Maya.- The Divine Gourd Tree.- Sorcery and the Taking of Trophy Heads in Ancient Costa Rica.- From Corporeality to Sanctity.- Human Trophies in the Late Pre-Hispanic Andes.- Seeking the Headhunter’s Power.- “Handsome Death”.- Human Trophy Taking in the South American Gran Chaco.- Ethics and Ethnocentricity in Interpretation and Critique.- Supplemental Data on Amerindian Trophy Taking.- Conclusions.

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