Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Jean-Francois Millaire

2nd Supervisor

Andrew Nelson

Joint Supervisor


This thesis is a bioarchaeological analysis of ritual violence in the Virú Valley, Peru in two periods: the Virú Period and the Tomaval Period, with a focus on examining the effects of socio-political times of transition on patterns of ritual violence. In the pre-Columbian Andes, there were several periods of socio-political transition that greatly affected the populations living on the north coast of Peru. One such period was the Middle Horizon (A.D. 800 – 1100), with the increasing influence of Huari and Tiwanaku, and with the later rise of Chimor (A.D. 1100 – 1550) and Sicán (A.D. 800 – 1350) on the north coast after the collapse of the Moche (A.D. 100 – 800). During this time of transition, which was accompanied (and possibly largely brought on by), drought and famine along the coast, great influence was felt from these powerful groups, especially by the local elite.

Through the investigation of a series of internments from Huaca Gallinazo and Huaca Santa Clara, this thesis will compare three contexts of ritual violence: one being a series of dedicatory offerings, another being principal-individual-with-retainer internments, and the third being another form of principal-individual-with-retainer internment with associated camelid sacrifices. This analysis ultimately revealed a new form of ritual violence which emerged during the Middle Horizon on the north coast of Peru and which was likely introduced as a reaction of the local elite to a time of great socio-political change.