Social Skins of the Head

Body Beliefs and Ritual in Ancient Mesoamerica and the Andes

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Vera Tiesler, María Cecilia Lozada
  • Albuquerque, NM: 
    University of New Mexico Press
    , September
     320 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


The meanings of ritualized head treatments among ancient Mesoamerican and Andean peoples is the subject of this book, the first overarching coverage of an important subject. Heads are sources of power that protect, impersonate, emulate sacred forces, distinguish, or acquire identity within the native world. The essays in this book examine these themes in a wide array of indigenous head treatments, including facial cosmetics and hair arrangements, permanent cranial vault and facial modifications, dental decorations, posthumous head processing, and head hunting. They offer new insights into native understandings of beauty, power, age, gender, and ethnicity. The contributors are experts from such diverse fields as skeletal biology, archaeology, aesthetics, forensics, taphonomy, and art history.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Vera Tiesler serves as Research Professor and currently heads the Laboratory of Bioarchaeology at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida, Mexico. Her most recent book is The Bioarchaeology of Artificial Cranial Modifications: New Approaches to Head Shaping and Its Meanings in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and Beyond.

María Cecilia Lozada is a Peruvian bioarchaeologist who has been conducting archaeological research in the South Central Andes for the last twenty years. She holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago and is currently a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago.


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