Mortal Rituals: What the Story of the Andes Survivors Tells Us About Human Evolution

Hardcover | August 13, 2013

byMatt J. Rossano

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On December 21, 1972, sixteen young survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 were rescued after spending ten weeks stranded at the crash site of their plane, high in the remote Andes Mountains. The incident made international headlines and spawned several best-selling books, fueled partly by the fact that the young men had resorted to cannibalism to survive.

Matt Rossano examines this story from an evolutionary perspective, weaving together findings and ideas from anthropology, psychology, religion, and cognitive science. During their ordeal, these young men broke "civilized" taboos to fend off starvation and abandoned "civilized" modes of thinking to maintain social unity and individual sanity. Through the power of ritual, the survivors were able to endure severe emotional and physical hardship. Rossano ties their story to our story, seeing in the mortal rituals of this struggle for survival a reflection of what it means to be human.

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On December 21, 1972, sixteen young survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 were rescued after spending ten weeks stranded at the crash site of their plane, high in the remote Andes Mountains. The incident made international headlines and spawned several best-selling books, fueled partly by the fact that the young men had resorted...

Matt J. Rossano is professor of psychology at Southeastern Louisiana University. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside, and is the author of Supernatural Selection: How Religion Evolved and Evolutionary Psychology: The Science of Human Behavior and Evolution. He blogs for the Huffington Post and Psychology Tod...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:August 13, 2013Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231165005

ISBN - 13:9780231165006

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Read an excerpt from chapter 1, "Natural vs. Civilized":

Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction1. Natural Versus Civilized2. The Evolution of Taboo3. This Cold and Capricious Place4. Mountain Rituals5. Rituals of Love6. Ritual Defeats the Mountain7. God of the MountainNotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

An engrossing book.... Mortal Rituals is a clearly written and compelling case study.