Volume 30, Issue 3 (July 1985)
An Analysis of a Prehistoric Homicide from Northern California
An analysis was performed on a prehistoric human vertebral column recovered during an archaeological excavation in the Sierra of northern California. Fifteen burials believed to represent the Maidu culture of 400 to 700 years ago were recovered. The vertebral column from one of the individuals is particularly significant because of three embedded projectile points. The analysis attempts to recreate the trajectory of each point; to determine the possible extent of damage done by each with emphasis upon which could have been fatal; and by employing available ethnographic and archaeological data, to suggest the possible circumstances surrounding the violent event. The conclusion suggests that death may have resulted from any of the three wounds and was probably the result of an intratribal dispute.