Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



The Moche civilization, which thrived in northern Peru from AD 100-800, influenced a vast area that extended to the southernmost monumental site of Pañamarca. Huambacho, an archaeological site in the Nepeña Valley, which dates to the Early Horizon (600-200 cal BC), has yielded multiple Moche graves uncovered by the Proyecto Huambacho (2003-2004). The graves provide the first evidence of Moche presence outside of the neighboring Pañamarca monumental complex. This research entailed the osteological analysis of eleven individuals from nine Moche grave contexts at Huambacho, including the analysis of demographic features, pathology, trauma, and antemortem cultural modifications. Methodology included the visual analysis of each bone in addition to detailed written, drawn, and photographic documentation of all bony elements assessed. This project provides insights into the life and death of this small Moche period group of individuals. The high frequency of arthritic lipping on the young adult individuals indicates a physically-active lifestyle. This lifestyle was particularly strenuous on the lower limbs as indicated by the high frequency of severe lipping on the lumbar vertebrae, pelvic joint, and knee joint. Several of the adult individuals display antemortem healed fractures, also indicating a physically-active lifestyle. The dental caries, dental enamel hypoplasia, cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, and the unusual antemortem bowing of the long bones indicate nutritional stress. In addition, the adult individuals are all males of a young age category (25-35 years). Thus, based on this information, these individuals were active young men who participated in strenuous activities (farmers, warriors). Culturally characteristic practices of the Moche are also present in this specific burial population in the form of cranial deformation. The burial conditions at Huambacho also provide useful insights into the nature of the deaths of these individuals. The results of this research provide insight into the health and social behavior of a once-thriving human culture, as well as help to clarify the Moche presence in Huambacho. Based on the burial and osteological evidence, these individuals seem to represent a population of sacrificial burials of young, male warriors and children.



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Committee Chair

Manhein, Mary