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These very detailed renderings of human skulls were strung in great quantities to form necklaces. The resulting monotonous succession of human skulls is reminiscent of the Post-Classic tzompantli or skull rack, which functioned as a sort of trophy display made from the heads of captured enemies. Stone representations of tzompantli have been found in the Aztec Great Temple (Mexico City) and in Chichén Itzá (Yucatan), among other sites.

Skull-shaped necklace beads
Post-Classic period (1000-1500 A.D.)
3.5 cm.
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico.

Photo © Jorge Pérez de Lara