Pre-Hispanic peoples in Mexico may have used cosmetics to honor the dead

Jan. 10, 2013 at 3:59 PM
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MEXICO CITY, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Archaeologists say findings suggest the ancient Teotihuacan people of Mexico exhumed their dead and dignified them with cosmetics as a ritual honor.

Spanish researchers working with the National University of Mexico said the evidence comes from analyzed remains of cosmetics in the graves of pre-Hispanic civilizations on the American continent, a release from the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology said Wednesday.

In the case of the Teotihuacans, they said, these cosmetics were apparently used as part of rituals to honor their city's most important people.

"The conclusion that we have reached, given the structure of the pigments found, is that they are remains of cosmetics that were used in rituals following burial," study lead author Maria Teresa Domenech Carbo of the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Spain said.

"At that time it was common to periodically practice a kind of remembrance worship of the deceased high nobility."

In those times the deceased were not buried in graves in special areas but instead were buried underneath the floor of their homes, she said.

"The priest would go to the home and would pay homage to the deceased with the family present," Domenech said. "Cosmetics were used by the priest carrying out the ceremony and formed a part of the ritual."

Teotihuacan is one of the major archaeological sites in Mexico because of its proximity to Mexico City and its spectacular great Mayan pyramid.

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