Seventeen hundred years in the past, a feminine spider monkey was introduced as a treasured reward – and later brutally sacrificed – to strengthen ties between two main powers of pre-Hispanic America, in accordance with a brand new examine.
The paper, revealed Monday within the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences (PNAS), in contrast the providing by Maya elites to Teotihuacan to China’s panda diplomacy that accompanied the normalization of Sino-US relations within the Nineteen Seventies.
By utilizing a number of strategies – together with extraction of historical DNA, radiocarbon courting, and chemical dietary evaluation – researchers have been in a position to reconstruct the life and demise of the primate, discovering she was probably between 5 and eight years of age when buried alive.
“It is such an thrilling time to be doing archaeology as a result of the methodology is lastly right here,” lead writer Nawa Sugiyama of the College of California, Riverside advised AFP.
The work started with Sugiyama’s stunning discovery in 2018 of the animal’s stays within the ruins of Teotihuacan, a UNESCO World Heritage Website within the arid Mexican Highlands.
Spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) aren’t native to the elevated area, leaving Sugiyama with a puzzle to unravel: What was the animal doing there, who introduced it, and why was it sacrificed?
Important clues got here from the stays’ location. Teotihuacan (pronounced tay-uh-tee-waa-kaan), which lies 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Mexico Metropolis, was an vital web site of cultural change and innovation in Traditional Mesoamerica.
It is maybe finest identified for the pyramids of the Moon, Solar, and Feathered Serpent. However there’s rising curiosity in one other monument referred to as Plaza of the Columns, a fancy the place neighboring Maya maintained a presence likened to a modern-day embassy.
Feasts, treasures, and murals
The monkey’s skeletal stays have been discovered within the complicated alongside a golden eagle – an emblem of Mexico even at this time – and surrounded by a set of high-value gadgets, together with obsidian projectile factors, conch shells, and treasured stone artifacts.
Over 14,000 ceramic shards from a grand feast have been additionally found, in addition to a Maya mural depicting the spider monkey.
This, mentioned Sugiyama, was additional proof of an change that happened on the highest ranges, and preceded the Teotihuacan state’s later rise and navy involvement in Maya cities by the 12 months 378 CE.
Outcomes from chemical evaluation involving two canine tooth that erupted at totally different factors within the monkey’s life point out that previous to captivity, she lived in a damp setting and ate vegetation and roots.
After being captured and dropped at Teotihuacan her food regimen was nearer to that of people, together with corn and chili peppers.
The spider monkey could have been “an unique curiosity alien to the excessive elevations of Teotihuacan,” wrote Sugiyama and colleagues, with the actual fact she was a fellow primate presumably including to her charisma and attraction.
Finally, the animal met a grisly demise: “Palms certain behind its again and tethered toes point out en vivo burial, widespread amongst human and animal sacrifices at Teotihuacan,” the authors wrote.
Although savage to fashionable eyes, “we have to perceive and contextualize these cultural practices… and what it meant to have the ability to surrender that which is most treasured to you,” mentioned Sugiyama.
© Agence France-Presse