How Teotihuacan People Used their Relatives’ Bones as Tools

TeotihuacanPhoto: jackhynes

Death isn’t pleasant for anyone to experience. Imagine living in the Classic Period—A.D.200-400. Mexican archaeologists have just discovered from an analysis of 5,000 bone fragments near Mexico City that relatives of dead humans took the fresh remains, defleshed them, and used the bones to make tools.

In the ancient city of Teotihuacan, death was not feared. The bodies of loved ones were typically buried right under the houses of the relatives.

TeotihuacanPhoto: Gorgo

Some of the biggest, most lavish pyramids in the world lined the main street in Teotihuacan.

A fresh body was necessary to make the buttons, combs, spatulas, needles, etc. A decomposing body would have brittle, dried up bones. Children’s bones, as well as those of the elderly, were not ideal as they would be not be strong enough or might be riddled with disease. (Generally speaking, the Teotihuacan people died in their 30s.)

TeotihuacanPhoto: Madman2001

Researchers are unsure who worked at the bone factories that made the tools. They know that they used very sharp rocks to carve the flesh off the bones. But what was done with the flesh is uncertain.

Currently, research is being conducted on the teeth found in the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan. By analyzing the teeth, they can see what water these people drank and where they originated from. Some of the people in the ancient city could have settled there after birth or marriage.

TeotihuacanPhoto: Travis S

It is not thought the bones of travelers or foreigners were used to make the tools. Early studies on the tools that were unearthed indicated that all of the people came from similar lineage.