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?