Critique of the claim of cannibalism at cowboy wash

Kurt E. Dongoske, Debra L. Martin, T. J. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The article by Billman et al. contributes to a growing body of data that demonstrates the complex variability of the Pueblo world during the twelfth century. Although the article's title promises a comprehensive review of major cultural and environmental processes (drought, warfare, cannibalism, regional interactions), relatively little theory regarding these processes informs their research design, and much of their interpretation is based on weak inferences. Their empirical data are not used to test alternative hypotheses or rigorously examine expectations derived from modeling. Dynamic aspects of cultural patterns relating to migration, settlement, environment, abandonment, mortuary behaviors, conflict, and group identity are implicated in their research but are not adequately contextualized. Our response to the study by Billman et al. is intended to provide a critical yet constructive commentary, propose fresh ways of thinking about what assemblages of disarticulated and broken bones might mean, and reformulate how research questions are being asked.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-190
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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