Raiding and Warfare in Early Farming Villages of the Sonoran Desert

Kota Fleming, James T. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The archaeological record of the precolumbian Southwest US and Northwest Mexico contains a wide variety of evidence for violence and warfare. We examined osteological evidence for trauma from the site of La Playa in Sonora, Mexico to identify if violence was present during the Early Agricultural period in the Sonoran Desert (as it was in the northern Southwest) and, if present, identify the source of that violence (i.e., warfare vs. social control). Traumatic injuries were present in 58% of the skeletal sample (TotalN = 131) and demonstrated that both males and females were both equally susceptible to accidents as well as victims of violence. Numerous healed cranial depression fractures, embedded projectile points, and probable forearm defensive fractures suggest that violence was endemic at the site, and more broadly across the Sonoran Desert during the Early Agricultural period. These patterns of violent traumatic injury mirror those expected for groups where raiding is common and may partly reflect captive taking and perhaps revenge killing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-439
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


  • Early agricultural period
  • Trauma
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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