Thursday, August 12, 2010
Bone Tools Made from Relatives
At Teotihuacan, archaeologists excavating trash dumps in a residential neighborhood have unearthed hundreds of artifacts made from human bones. These are ordinary household objects -- sewing needles, spatulas, combs -- and this seems to have been the normal way they were made. The bone came from healthy adults, probably local people rather than the war captives the Teotihuacanos preferred for their public sacrifices. As one of the archaeologists commented, the Teotihuacanos "were not particularly afraid of death. They buried the members of their family under and around their houses and manipulated their bones." Not to mention their habit of torturing dozens of captives to death on holidays and making religious regalia from their bones, skin, and hair. For people so unafraid of corpses, so used to having parts of people around, making tools from their relatives' bones may have seemed like a perfectly natural way to maintain contact with the recently departed.