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Man Corn
Cannibalism and Violence
in the Prehistoric American Southwest

Man Corn
Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest
By - Christy G. Turner II and Jacqueline A Turner
Publisher - University of Utah Press
Web: http://www.upress.utah.edu/
ISBN: 0-87480-566
Copyright 1999

Caution - this book goes into great detail about death and the consquences of violence. It is not for the faint-hearted. Use caution in reading!

Man Corn: from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word tlacatlaolli which translates to "a sacred meal of sacrificed human meat, cooked with corn."

This is a large book, some 540 pages on large size paper, and makes a very detailed and persuasive argument that, instead of the idealistic view that the Anasazi peoples were simple innocents slowly developing along the line to civilization, there are numerous archeological sites with extensive evidence of prehistoric violence, homicide and cannablism and/or human sacrifice in this and surrounding cultures.

The book starts out with a historical overview of cannibalism that existed in most developing cultures and throughout history around the world and then focuses in on the cultural ethnocentricities of cultures in the American Southwest, I.e., especially the Anasazi, Mogollon and Hohokam peoples.

The author goes through the sequence of his developing this thesis - from knowing nothing about the subject, to the professional experience of forensic observations of modern victims of severe violence in our society, on to having a few teeth and bones in Anasazi excavations that showed unusual scarring and burns on up to realizing that a carefully researched examination of a cannibalism hypothesis had to be made.

The book goes on to make a detailed presentation of the taphonomic (a study of the distribution of post-mortem bones), ethnographic (), and archeological() evidence that the authors assembled to examine the hypothesis.

This chapter goes on to present the authors' fourteen characteristics of "Human Butchering and Cannablism (or flesh removal and disposal of human remains)." that was originally published in 1983 and refined to the point that if six features are present, cannibalism very probably occurred.

The book then goes into a very detailed study of each of some 76 sites where cannibalsim and/or violence apparently occured and the rationale for so characterising it.

An entire chapter is then devoted to examining Mexico archeology, in particular the several cultures, such as Toltec and Aztec, who are accepted as practicing sacrifice and cannibalism and the many similarities with Anasazi excavations.

In conclusion, the authors present very strong evidence is that the cannibalism signature occurs almost exclusively in the Anasazi culture area (centered on Chaco) and nowhere else. They present the hypothesis that the Anasazi cannibalism was a combination of several factors: social control, ritual human sacrifce, and social pathology. Which was possibly brought in from Mexico by the social strife of the Toltec empire collapsing as well as vanquished Toltec warriors who were intent on spreading the cannabilsm/human sacrifice religion of the Toltec deities.

Here are links to more information about the Anasazi -

Reviewed by E. Stiltner, Copyright © 2001.

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