More than a thousand years ago, a priest in Mexico donned a bone nose ornament and conducted a ceremony in honor of K’awiil, the Mayan god associated with maize and fertility.
At least that’s what experts believe happened after they discovered a nose ring made from human bone at the Archaeological Zone of Palenque in Chiapas, according to an Aug. 29 news release from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. It’s the first find of its kind from the site.
Experts described the artifact as “una nariguera,” which translates to a nose ring in English. However, photos of the object show that it was more like an ornament that sat atop the wearer’s nose.
The 2.5-inch-long and 2-inch-wide adornment is made of a human tibia (leg) bone, archaeologists said. It was likely used by elites, specifically rulers and priests, in attempts to personify their god, K’awiil.
Experts said the bone artifact is engraved with a depiction of a man in a headdress and ornate jewelry. His left arm has the Mayan glyph “ak’ab’,” which means darkness or night. He is holding a long thin object, and beneath him is a human skull and long bones placed on a bundle of cloth.
The depiction in the bone expresses communication with gods and ancestors, according to experts.
The nose piece was unearthed from a ritual deposit buried between 600 and 850, archaeologists said. The deposit commemorated the building of a new structure, known as House C, at a palace.
Officials said they also found animal bones, obsidian blades and charcoal in the deposit.
Chiapas is in southeastern Mexico.
Google Translate was used to translate a news release from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.