Mexico’s ancient dead got makeovers

PTI | | Updated on: Jan 13, 2013

Death didn’t mean the end of beauty for pre-Hispanic civilisations, as the ancient Teotihuacans exhumed their dead and painted them with cosmetics in periodic remembrance rituals, a new study claims.

Researchers analysed for the first time remains of cosmetics in the graves of pre-Hispanic civilisations in what is now Mexico on the American continent.

In the case of the Teotihuacans, these cosmetics were used as part of the after-death ritual to honour their city’s most important people.

Archaeological site

Research from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Valencia studied various funerary samples found in urns in the Teotihuacan archaeological site (Mexico) that date from between 200 and 500 AD.

“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. At that time it was common to periodically practise a kind of remembrance worship of the deceased high nobility,” said Maria Teresa Domenech Carbo, lead author of the study.

In these rituals, the high priest of the city would conduct a ceremony in the dwelling of the most noble of citizens like nobility, princes and kings.

Buried under homes

The reason for this is that unlike today where graves are located in special places, in those days the deceased were buried underneath the floor of their homes.

Published on January 13, 2013
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