At least as far back as the Neanderthal People, awed by the mystery of death, humans and their cousins cared for the disposition of their dead, especially of those who had prominent social positions.

Later there was Zapotec fraternal femur scepters, and the Christian cult of relics. In the Highlands of New Guinea, the bones of "important men" are stored in a "skull-house," as they are in North Cameroon. In China, when moving to a new home, families exhumed their ancestors' bones and packed them with their other possessions.

Whose bones should I carry on my journey? Shamans from the Upper Paleolithic? Jews from Yemen? Christians from Spain? Buddhists from the Steppes of Asia? 

Because the only past I know is present.
Because the only present I know is past.

 

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