A Coprological View of Ancestral Pueblo Cannibalism
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Was Ancestral Pueblo culture peaceful or violent? The prevailing
view among archaeologists has swung back and forth over the past 60
years. In the late 1980s, characterizations of the Ancestral Pueblo
swung toward the violent with the discovery of remains showing
evidence of cannibalism. Then, in 1992, Karl Reinhard found the
strongest evidence yet in a coprolite (preserved fecal sample) from
Cowboy Wash, Utah. Yet the stool contained none of the other
residues he had found in hundreds of other samples of the
hunter-gatherers' leavings. The question is more than just academic:
The Ancestral Pueblo are the ancestors of the modern Pueblo people,
whose heritage hangs in the balance. Reviewing the science, Reinhard
ruminates on the capricious nature of public opinion.