Archaeologists have found the oldest evidence of the use of monkeys as a diplomatic gift

(ORDO NEWS) — For thousands of years, animals have been used to establish diplomatic relations between different peoples. Now archaeologists have found evidence that 1,700 years ago in Central America, spider monkeys played the same role for the ancient Maya.

Living gifts were used everywhere in diplomacy.

For example, the Egyptians gave giraffes to the rulers of countries with which they established friendly relations, and the English King Henry III even turned the Tower of London into a menagerie when Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II gave him three leopards, an elephant and a polar bear.

Do not do without such gifts and modern politicians. For example, China used its national animals – giant pandas – to maintain diplomatic relations for 40 years.

Now scientists have found evidence that the ancient inhabitants of Mexico were not alien to “animal diplomacy.”

In the Indian Teotihuacan, bones of many animals were found, including a spider monkey about 1,700 years old.

She lay next to the skeletons of a golden eagle and several rattlesnakes, surrounded by jade figurines, obsidian knives and shell ornaments. The researchers took this as a sign that the animals had been ritually sacrificed.

Scientists also found that at the time of death, the monkey was between five and eight years old, she spent at least two years in captivity, eating mainly corn.

Since Teotihuacan is located in the highlands, far from the usual habitats of spider monkeys (these primates live in wooded areas), the authors of the work suggest that the rulers of neighboring Mayan tribes presented the animal as an exotic gift.

Archaeologists have found the oldest evidence of the use of monkeys as a diplomatic gift 2
It is hard to imagine that an animal inhabiting the rainforests could get to a high-mountain city on its own

Judging by other bones found in Teotihuacan, ritual sacrifices involving symbolic animals were common among the ancient Indians, and the spider monkey (whose image can be seen on the city’s frescoes) was just one example of such customs.

So far, scientists cannot say what the meaning of this ritual was. One can only guess why the skeletons of a monkey, an eagle and snakes were buried nearby.


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