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Monkey Skeleton Sheds Light on Ancient Civilization

Monkey Skeleton Sheds Light on Ancient Civilization

A group of spider monkeys. (Source: Auckland Zoo) 

The skeletal remains of a spider monkey found buried in Mexico may shed some light on the relationship between two hostile ancient civilizations. The monkey was found by researchers working in Teotihuacan, in what is now central Mexico. Curiously, the spider monkey is not native to this hot desert climate; it is indigenous to the tropical jungles the Maya ruled over, hundreds of miles away.

The monkey was found buried alive in a pit with bits of food and other goods. The current theory is that the monkey was a sacrificial gift between the two conflicting civilizations during a time of peace. This discrepancy between the monkey’s habitat and its resting place also supports this theory. There are even indications that its diet changed over time from food indigenous to the Mayan land to crops grown in Teotihuacan.

The discovery of one monkey’s remains is not enough to definitively conclude anything about the relationship between these two civilizations, but it is indicative of the process of historical reconstruction. We do not always have grand narratives and sweeping written records to draw from, sometimes we must contend with tiny details and discoveries, like the bones of a monkey found hundreds of miles from where it ought to be.

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