Thousands of bones from both wild and domestic animals litter the room fills in the historic complex at San Lazaro. They can be found in thick layers just inside the plaza, up close to the room blocks. It appears almost as though someone was eating upstairs and throwing the bones out of a window.
Some of the most frequently found artifacts at San Lazaro are bone tools, especially awls, which were used to make holes for sewing skins, or weaving baskets or textiles. Of the hundreds in the collection, many have been heavily used for such everyday chores. This photo shows a few examples from the prehistoric room blocks. After the Spanish arrived with metal, bone became less favored as a raw arterial for tools. The object on the left is 9 inches long.
Awls made form the hollow bones of birds are generally sharper than those made form the bones of other animals. So many have been recovered in our excavations that we think the Indians must have been able to kill birds of all sizes with comparative ease.
The hundreds of tubular bone objects recovered at San Lazaro have been found in all sizes, as this photo reveals. The smaller ones may have been beads that were strung and worn around the neck. After a rain, the longer tubes probably were used as straws with which to suck water from the many shallow indentations that are found in the rocks around the pueblo. Water must have been precious, so we think it was stored in pottery containers for later consumption. The longest bone is just over 6 inches.
At San Lazaro there was ample bone available for making tools, especially after the Spanish arrived with domesticated animals. The exact use of many of the tools illustrated will forever remain a mystery, but one might speculate that some of them were used for weaving, scraping and smoothing unfired pottery vessels or perforating materials such as wood and leather. The tool at left is just under 9.5 inches long