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Nose ring made from human bone found by archaeologists at Palenque

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have uncovered a nose ring made from human bone during excavations at the Maya city of Palenque.

Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

Excavations of House C, part of a palace complex built by Pakal the Great, has led to the discovery of a ritual deposit containing a nose ring made from human bone. The deposit is likely an offering to commemorate the building’s completion between AD 600 and 850 during the Late Classic period.

The nose ring is made with part of a human distal tibia which forms the bony structure of the ankle joint, and has an engraved scene used to personify K’awiil, the Mayan god associated with lightning, serpents, fertility, and maize. The Maya often depicted Kʼawiil holding the promise of “Innumerable Generations” who was part of the Maya rulers ritual inauguration and accession to the throne.

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On the left half of the ring is the engraved profile of a man wearing a headdress with the head of a bird. On the left arm it shows the Mayan glyph ak’ab’ , “darkness” or “night”.

The deposit was located in a stucco floor where the researchers found a pit with a filling of clay soil and the remains of charcoal. While sifting the filling contents, the team also found animal remains, obsidian blades, fragments of a bone awl, and the human bone nose ring.

According to a press announcement by INAH: “The earth matrix was very dark with a high amount of charcoal and intermingled with seeds, fish bones, turtles, small mammals, obsidian blades, some large pieces of charcoal and, among them, a bone nasal ornament.”

INAH

Header Image Credit : Carlos Varela Scherrer

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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