A REPORTER AT LARGE CANNIBALS OF THE CANYON Has a cotr - PDF document

A REPORTER AT LARGE CANNIBALS OF THE CANYON Has a cotr
A REPORTER AT LARGE CANNIBALS OF THE CANYON Has a cotr

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stern civilizurion ORE than a century ago M American travellers in the Southwest were astounded to find ruined cities and vast cliff dwellings dotting the desert landscape Surely they thought a great civilization had once flourished here It looked to ID: 65101 Download Pdf

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A REPORTER AT LARGE CANNIBALS OF THE CANYON Has a co?~troversial anthropologist uncozler~d the truth about a great Southwc.stern civilizurion? than a century ago, American find ruined vast cliff desert landscape. a great once flourished here. the ated it walked away were of- aid great works, most studied pre- historic culture and Zuni, and other Pueblo who are the Anasazi's de- scendants. The Anasazi were-so the findings suggested-peaceful fxmers, they attained astonishing a.rchitecture, this cultural flowering, century to g zona, in to trace a $ peculiar trait known as the three-rooted 5. I first molar. On the last day of his re- 2 curator to pull 3 coffin-shaped cardboard ; box frorn a top shelf. The accession 9 0 record said that the ; mains from Polacc:~ a THE NEW colleague of the original A,lesa, on the Hopi Indian Reservation. Nancy Morris, the paper was entitled excavator, had been wrong in assuming The remains had been excavated in "A Massacre at Hopi."Turner the bones an archeologist named Nan P. that the beloqged to Turner had had the bones radiocarbon- Olson. Turner come back as found himself ;azing at a bizarre collec- h~ld been "killed, 1580 A.D. plus or minus ninety-five tion more than hurnan crudely dismembered, muti- Turner wondered bone shards. Thirn.vears . . lated," and that the heads, in particu- described the experience to me, the showed extreme exist what happened. mexnon was still vivid. "Holy the front, \&'hen with me, having massively so. faces were "We knew the bods still covered a certain number of kids and fe- exactly like foe,:/ trash." The fragments Most of the skulls had received a nurn- male:;. We looked at dental morphol- reminded him of broken and burned ber of "blunt, heavy, club-like fractur- ogy. INe a good match with had found blows."The bone material had we asked ourselves, Anasazi garbage mounds. A's he been "vital" at the time the blows were oral tradition about a whole more another thought and eaten, or massa- struck him. Lik.e weathered teeth and cred, of this age scrap suggest, not the death these people occurred that the police had site was known examine some remains regardless of age or been informants had skeletfon wearing a and smashed opl:n, ap- legend to an anthropologist at the end boots. Turner had infor~ned the pcllice brain cculd the nineteenth century According to had been savagely beaten removed. the sf-ory, sometime in sixteen- to death. "Novv," went on village called only the skullsalso showed had been largely converted to Chris- lacca bones." cutting, chopping, disinem- under the influence of froin the berment, butchering, "defleshing," people of Awa- museum and practiced witchcraft, was a pro- broken apart and scral~ed out, considered a heinous crime. Eventually, fessor. In 1969, or, in of spongy bone, reamed a paper archeolog- out. Turner and Morris purgc this spiritual stain. Wash bones represented ai:tack chief of paper would convincing evidence of Awatovi himself, had become and the room was balism in archat:ology." gusted with own people. the other the errant the men chambers of captured groups of women and children. onc of these groups was being marched away, a dispute to keep got out bodies were place called Mas-teo'-mo, or Death Mound. "If the stories -5 are correct," the anthropologist Don't think cfit plagiarism, think honzage. '" ends wrote, "the final butchery bones, including �!liull~. Dental picks, a tin!. magnif\ring gl lss, and other instru- ments rested ilea -1): The f~lr wall was \\,it11 photographs of c'f a gri~nacing rnurnrl!, head, i1nd of Hopi medicine men, aliloilg other things. photocop! of all old sidesho\v bill was on another wall, near a compi~ter tern~in:i. The bill read, "The Head of the Reno~vned B~uldit Joaquin! \Vill be exl1ibitc.i for one oill!,, April 19, 1843. Flus the hand of the notorious robber and murderer Three Fingered Jack." Turner sat be111n~l an old desk next to a windo\v, w~11il:ll overlooked a pleas- ant courynrd wit11 two palm trees. sixty-bur, has sandy hair water;: large glasses. rough and from ycz.1-s work in the sun. Turner was bc'ln in Columbia, Mi!;- souri, and grew 1.p in Southern Cali- fornia. "I was b;.l)tized without beirig consulted," he toid me. "Presbyterian. I hated it so much ia- hirned me quickly co Darwin." IHe 11:111 been student at the L1;liversity he switched I o anthropology. Best knowil for work l~e has done mort~hology-tl-~e shapes of huinan teeth-he has spent most of aca- delllic life 'eatteml~ting to trace the vari- ous waves of human Asia to 1)y looking at teeth. I spent three ti~ys with a mercurial man, who can be gracious, witty, t harming, aggressive, 2nd a good thing that 11:~; surrounded hiinself with the dead, in dealing he is I~:gendarily difficult. "I h:l\.c no friends. but I have no scafij," he told me. He jeems to relish being on the unpopu1;~i- side of an academic fight. daughter, Korri, be1'1g branded politically incorrcct." After chatti,-g with Turner for a while, I asked 111n abont the heap of bones on his t:lt,le. He said that they wcrc from a sit(: called Sarnbrito Vil- lagc, on the Sail Juan River, in New hlesico. It had 1)een excavated thirty- five years befort, wheil the area was to be drowned by I\Tav,ijo Reservoir. The excavating arche )logist had concluded that cannibalis~u occurred there, but his finding \bas ignored. Turner was This conversation is like a long mlk together in the auturun woods. hlossy silence of sl-ladow, eloquent longing of birds, thunder softened by dist:lnce. A stag crosses the trail up ahead. a wildness we had thought extinc:. Leaves, the shades of fall at our from the wincl we a.ccept. trail divides, sudden pathos sweet rain. now reexamining the bones for his book. "All rnakings of cannibalisln said enthusiastically, and slid the piece into it gen- il1ustrat.e the roasting the head. A of the this burning pattern on the a patch on the where flaking off. handed it me, and G'tl~ey decapitating the and putting fire face asked. "To cook the brain?" "It would have cooked the brain, yes," he said, rather dryly. "What happens when a brain stops. Except among of my Turner pointed to the broken edge skull, which showed st:veral places where sharp blows had opened the brainpan: small pieces of broken skull were still adhering to the edges. "These are perimortem breaks. This cannot happen except in fresh bone," he said. "Perimortem" refers to events at the time of death. hlost said, showed numerous crushing, splintering, had just before, just after this person, a.ild of what sex?" I asked. Turner took the skull and signs of at eighteen years. Sex very brow ridges, sharp, couldn't rule out a m.~le." through the Some had cuts and mxrks dismemberment with stone cuts where attached to the that meat from stone choppers break open bones for marrow through the sct of cannibalized human like. Eventually, the course of his work, he identified five ch~~racteristics that he to be prcsent assemblage before could claim that individual had broken open if to gt:t at the Bones cutting and them, and butchering. scratcl.les, which Turner noticed most often skulls, caused (or another bone) a stone THE NEW YORKER, NOVEMBER 30, 1998 even D. Carleton Gajdusek, who in 1976 lvon a Noh-1 Prize in hledicirie for identifying r. cannibalistic disease called ~ZITLI amcjng the Fore tribe of New Guinea, hac~ e1,er it.) Arens how some anthropologists elstwhere had badgered and hectored their informants until they finallwr "admittec." that their ancestors had been cannibals. He argued that vivid accounts of' cannibalisnl collected by the Spanish i11 the Caribbean and central AIexico were mostly written b~. people who were attempting to ensl;~vernent. Arens went t~ say, the ultimate always members of some donin the rwer were cannibals. Arens his profession to task fc,r rigorous evidence be- maliing ask anthropologists nibalism," he wrote, and qive they thrive strange; they are radically different from and thus worth anthropol~~gists have accepted, eagerly and uncritically, man!, dubious accounts cannib;~lism. Naturally, the book many anthropologists objected to it, but a surprising number of archeologists) felt that llrens "Thanks for getting married on szrch short notice." had made which needed trsted. "The ILIan-Eating All~h" bolstered Turner's and his as- called up kens to find work, twenty Surprisingl!; turned out to belie~rer. Cannibalism, he even a irlterpretation," of Turi~er's bone assemblages. He worried, however, that most people would conclude Arlasazi were cannibals-and, Americans. "There's a whole tliscipline esistence loohng for 'savagc' behavior among the people we colonized, conquered, T'hat point ,host thr: people here before can- of Na- tive Americans." Turner many articulate de- Kurt Dongoske, a who for the Don- goske doesn't how were pro- Turner's con- any people were {-he cooked meat. There is simply no proof that the tolcl does he Turner has sufficiently considered other alternatives, such as bizarre mortuary practices. Leigh J. Kui\vamvisiwma, who is the director of the Hopi Cultural Pres- ervation Ofice, wonders why they were out Apache, and 211 unfair of pursue this Kuwanwisiwma an open back in come hefore see if he was able explain his research and he refiised. He never made contact with us or after." for only and that says he never received that other the Hopi, 8G THE NEW YORKER, NOVEMBER 30. 1998 1 tool kit the tested positive for kiva contained only two small pieces of bone, which ently been washed from the sur- face. In the dead team made tremely unusual" find. some material, which was field-classified "macrobotar~i- cal remain''-a Ftece of an and when the team liad chance to examine 'oack in the laboratory, they realized tliat was a c.oprolite. "After the fire had gone cold," li3illman said, "someone ovcr this hearth and defe- cated into it." Billinan sent the coprolite off of Nebraska for first oddity the contamed that the copro- formed from meat. From a pollen :inalysis, lab could that the coprolite had been de- posited in the late spring or early surn- of year that the three nearby ruined sites, chopped- up, boiled, burned bones scattered four sites, constitute a community, contained a total of twenty-eight butchered indi- viduals. Mysteriously, all sites were portable items, baskets, a rabbit blanket, pots, and ground-stone tools. Little, if anything, seemed to have heel1 taken. site has of tirne in it," Billman could almost read it." ht. read was: year was IliiO. area was Pollen samples showed a crop probably occurred the community people were lulled, act of of the killers defe- and stead of invaders left it and valuables for excavated it," Billman told me, "I got the sense been taboo. may have been political strategy. areA have used from a people from raided a consumed some remains there everyone to see, you would gain of being community to sty away from." Billman, sented their findings Archaeology meet- sequently reported Catherine Dold Discovet-. the end of symposium, a Billman, introduced himself as kchard hlarlar, a biochemist, can tell you coproliten-in other worcls, he could determine directly whether (or not cannibalism had occurred. Billman samples of off for analysis, pieces of Anasazi cooking at the recently called up Richard Mar- pathology at the University of in Denver. his talk," can figure Wre basic prob- he realized, needed a through the digestive system sure he traces of in the bleeding) or lining of the intestine. and heart not intestinal tract tested from patients that none had Marlar set the kind that determine whether ha a disease. 1 to me, had performed tests, each using twenty- salnples pottery to see if ~t had traces of human protein from coolung. All he told whdt dechned to answer. h~d results confidential smdll world of Southwestern archeology, very little can soon began to hear rumors that the tests had been pos- itive. All of X/larluls the presence of myo- globin protein in the coprolite and on the interior walls of the coolung Turner had a long time he had questicln this question takes in the ter of ory of who the cannibals were, of "men, and children altke" may halve played this was he says, balism., such Starvation cannibalism extreme mutilatioil before they were charnel deposits, consisting thirty-five people (that's almost a of starvation (01- other kind of and the ments and endured the same droughts. Wil- a curator Arizona, had prepared a the distribution of roads. Using Wil- was able time and THE NEW NOVEMBER 30, 1998 view-stories .:hat also have India~ls. research for told a number of CThaco, some older Navqjo a place of nies, practiced and made dreaded substance called corpse coolung and grinding up the bones of e~il threw the uut were destroyed earthquake and ANNIUALISM have peaked C time of collapse because of terror, Turner theorizes, could not be sustained. 'Terror beeat social chaos. stranger terri- his paper of generali- ogist digs a site ters like and customary provision for ab- historic Southwest population." subsequent retreat inaccessible cliff nlesas now makes sense. Anasazi was, ~ntitled h he paper extends of the Corn."Turner "I can of social the of Chaco and spots of .Think thousands of or sociopathic individ- my thirty-five years of teaching never cializing in archeology taken a a seminar abnur~nal very idea of abnormal paradigm of culture of evolutionary derstand their wherever possi- asserts, will archeologists darker side L. this chaos ensued-started in centrd Africa these southward and last day Turner, he de- Southwest out," T~rner Cannibalism was not "normal" be- cided visit a told me. he argues, in Monument Valley, straddling the and socid terror may been a fac- and Arizona. Turncr doesn't reject the standard he hypothesizes that cannibalism, com- bined with more of the sparked chaos, a few he followers, like of Awatovi plottcd tinction of his own Khan, and Joseph Stalin. We left ponderosas of we had ment that I~lonument matic landscapes into the rutted dirt two cars hcking up cork-

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