Bones and Teeth

    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. An over- whelming majority of the bones are those of goats and sheep. Although we were not able to identify all the types of animals involved, we do have a good sampling. All but one of the bones in this photograph are from either domestic animals brought in by the Spanish or the offspring of those animals. An exception is the broken right mandible of an adult female buffalo at the bottom right, which was identified by archaeologist Marcel Kornfeld, a high-octane writer from the University of Wyoming, who said, “...they hit it several times to open up the marrow cavity. There are also very nice cut marks on the various parts of the ascending ramus, just under the anterior condyle on the coronoid process and about half way down the ramus-clear across- from the front to the back. “With this simple explanation, now I understand better the value of good education.  Marcel also identified butchering marks that were made to dis- articulate the mandible from the head, noting that, the cuts seem to have been made with a metal knife because they are narrow, and usually stone tools leave wider marks. A horse hoof is in the top right corner adjacent to a set of horse teeth and above a horse toe. The jaw bone in the bottom center is also from a horse, as is the long, diagonal rib bone. The big bone at the top is from a cow, as is the horn core at left. The remaining bones are from goats or sheep (we could not tell the difference) except for the tom turkey leg bone in the very center of the picture. We have hundreds of bones from various animals that are being saved “for future study of special interest to us are the many goat and sheep leg bones that were broken in exactly the same manner in order to obtain the marrow, the soft, vascular fatty tissue that fills the cavities of most bones. “It was much sought after and highly prized for its protein content.

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