Ancient human-bone sculptors 'turned relatives into buttons, combs'

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Washington, Aug 11 (ANI): It's a bit gruesome, but practical too - members of a pre-Aztec civilization used bones from freshly dead relatives to make buttons, combs, needles, spatulas, and dozens of other everyday utensils, says a new study.

The discovery comes from a new analysis of 5,000 bone fragments found in the ancient city of Teotihuacan, a large archaeological site about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Mexico City (see map).

"The Teotihuacanos used different stones as knives to finely remove the flesh and muscles from the bones," National Geographic News quoted Meza Penaloza, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, as saying.

The bones had to be fresh because after a person dies, his or her bone quickly becomes too fragile to sculpt.

The newly analysed bones show only marks left by the de-fleshing process and no signs of ritual sacrifice.

The bone shapes didn't match samples from skeletons of sacrificed foreigners, indicating that the bone artifacts were made from fellow Teotihuacanos.

Penaloza's team also hopes the find will eventually help archaeologists better understand the symbolism of using bone to make house ware.

"Let's say that an arm bone from someone who was a good tailor was made into a needle to keep the gift alive in a certain way, or that someone used a button from a grandmother to remember her," she said.

"It's possible, but we cannot be sure of it at this moment," Penaloza added. (ANI)

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