Bog mummies


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Bog mummies

  1. 1. ANTH 3969 Death, Rituals, and Mummification Spring Semester 2011 Dr. Ewa Wasilewska Presentation by: Elizabeth Hogan ANTH 4950-14
  2. 2. <ul><li>“ The dead and the sleeping, how they resemble each other.” </li></ul><ul><li>-Gilgamesh </li></ul><ul><li>Bog mummies are naturally preserved bodies, often found in the sphagnum bogs of Northern Europe. Many of them are so well preserved, that in their early discovery they were mistaken for recent murder victims. Some archaeologists have even said that their appearance resembles that of someone in a peaceful slumber... </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>There are many questions about these bodies that remain unanswered. Thousands of bog mummies have been recovered. The majority of them appear to have experienced deliberate and violent deaths. Since their discovery, archaeologists have been attempting to put the pieces of the puzzle together and to make sense of these mysterious mummies </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Most bog mummies appear in wetland areas of Northwestern Europe </li></ul><ul><li>A majority of them found in the peat bogs of Denmark </li></ul><ul><li>Other European bog mummies found in: western Ireland, northwestern England, Holland, Germany, and even Russia </li></ul><ul><li>Early Native American bog burials have also been discovered in Windover, Florida </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Bogs </li></ul><ul><li>- wetlands filled by deposits of dead mosses, and lichens </li></ul><ul><li>- usually fed by acidic ground water , or by precipitation (ombrotrophic) </li></ul><ul><li>- located in areas with cold climates, also sometimes in tropic regions (i.e. Florida) </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>-A majority of bogs are mainly comprised of Sphagnum moss </li></ul><ul><li>-Sphagnum moss grows upward, and will grow around and “encase” objects that fall into the bogs </li></ul><ul><li>-As Sphagnum moss decays it eventually becomes “peat” </li></ul><ul><li>-When dried out peat can be used as fuel </li></ul><ul><li>-During the 1800’s, peat exploitation for fuel was a major industry </li></ul><ul><li>-Over the years, peat harvesting and cutting aided in the discovery (and sometimes the destruction) of hundreds of bog mummies </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Earliest accounts of bog mummy discoveries date back to the early 1400s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- June 24, 1450: Peasants in Bonsdorp, Germany come across the remains of man while cutting peat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- After reporting the remains to a priest, they are advised to “leave the body alone, as bogs are inhabited by elves, who lured the man to his death” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Due to superstition and fear, many bog bodies receive the same fate and are never seen again </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Throughout 1600’s -1800’s more reports appear </li></ul><ul><li>-English records predating 1700, make note that “sometimes in mosses are found human bodies entire and uncorrupted” </li></ul><ul><li>-1773: While cutting peat, a peasant accidentally cuts of a human foot with his shovel. The local judge was informed and a detailed report was written </li></ul><ul><li>-During the late 1800s-early 1900s, the peat harvesting industry uncovers many more bog bodies as well as artifacts  eventually this leads to the advent of wetland archaeology </li></ul><ul><li>-Unfortunately, once exposed/removed from their waterlogged environments many bodies and artifacts decayed and were lost </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Best conditions for preservation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1) Placed in dark, deep, still water  Creates anaerobic environment (no oxygen), and limits decomposition from insects, scavengers, and bacteria </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2) Deposited during the winter  For a few months after the body is deposited water temperature must be at 4˚C, otherwise soft tissues will decompose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3) Sufficient amounts of tannic acid in the water  This will begin the “tanning” process and preserve soft tissue layers (similar to the process of treating leather, or pickling fruit)  dyes the skin a blackish/brown color and makes hair appear to be bright orange/red </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Bog mummies are mostly made up of preserved soft tissues  internal organs, hair, skin, and ligaments </li></ul><ul><li>Specifically, the brain preserves very well underwater, many bog bodies have been found with brains that are nearly fully preserved, even in bog bodies where the remains are skeletonized  In nor mal conditions the brain is often first to decompose, thus, in many embalming practices it is usually removed </li></ul><ul><li>Skeletal materials do not tend to preserve very well, water leaches organic material from bones, while the acidic environment of bogs dissolves hydroxyapatite (inorganic matrix of bone) </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Nearly 2000 bodies have been found in Europe, only 100 of which have been dated by C14 </li></ul><ul><li>Most mummies date: 1,000 B.C.- 250 A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>Earliest body found in Denmark  Female, around 20 yrs of age, dates to about 10,000 Y.B.P.  no flesh just a skeleton </li></ul><ul><li>Neolithic bog bodies  date 4,000-3,200 B.C.  35 found in Denmark, one in Ireland, and one in England </li></ul><ul><li>Bronze age bodies  date 2,500-1,000 B.C.  12 bodies found in England, and 4 in Denmark and Holland </li></ul><ul><li>Some of the bodies found are from the Roman period (up to 500 A.D </li></ul><ul><li>A few more modern bodies have been discovered (including the remains of a WWII soldier and a Russian woman who commit suicide), but these are usually rare </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Early Neolithic mummies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Large concentration of these mummies have been found in Denmark </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many of the remains were most likely between 16-20 years of age at time of death </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lots of disarticulated skeletal material  possibly dismemberment or evidence of cannibalism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence that some individuals were disabled </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trepanation or trephination (act of drilling or scraping holes in the human skull) visible in some remains </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some bodies with arrows in them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some bodies found in pairs  at a site in Bolkilde a man and a 16 year old boy were found together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many grave goods/funerary items were also recovered with the bodies  items such as, pottery, axes, beads, even animal remains </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Iron age bog mummies (1 st millenium B.C.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-Some bodies appear to have been pinned down with sticks/branches, and weights  bodies of two women in Haradskjaer and Avningmose, Denmark were found pinned down in this manner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Bodies discovered with items that indicate high status  amber beads, wearing capes and clothing, etc. also, many bodies have clean and neatly manicured fingernails, as well as smooth fingerprints indicating that they were not involved in any type of heavy manual labor (something to take note of since they subsisted mainly on farming/agricultural practices) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Bodies at Borremose (Jutland, Denmark) show evidence of violent behavior  bodies found with rope around their necks, blunt force trauma to the skull, many broken bones </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Overall it appears that many of bog mummies suffered death by unnatural causes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- evidence of murder/violent behavior  stab wounds, dismemberment, decapitation, strangulation/hanging, and slit throats (many display more than one of these) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- evidence of drowning  bodies pinned down with sticks, some with arms extended and grasping reeds/plant material as if attempting to pull themselves out of the bog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- possible religious practices or sacrifices/criminal executions  Many of the individuals were young, some also showed signs disabilities, also evidence that they were not involved in manual labor during their lifetime. some bodies buried with funerary goods and animals , some found blindfolded, also some remains show traces of ergot fungus (hallucinogenic fungus, what LSD is derived from), some remains also show signs of trepanation/trephination (holes drilled into the skull, possibly for spiritual or medical purposes </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Discovered in central Jutland, Denmark (May 8, 1950) </li></ul><ul><li>Archaeologist P.V. Glob, received a call from the police saying that there was a body found by peat cutters in Tollund Fen near Bjaeldskov  bog bodies were often found in this area so it was common for police to call archaeologists before ruling out homicide </li></ul><ul><li>Body dated ca. 200 B.C.-100 B.C. </li></ul><ul><li>Age at death: 40-50 years </li></ul><ul><li>Stature estimate: 1.61 m  relatively short </li></ul><ul><li>One of the best preserved bog bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Found wearing only a leather belt, sheepskin cap, and with a leather cord around his neck </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis of stomach content/last meal: cereals, weeds, oats, and many other starches </li></ul>
  16. 17. <ul><li>Discovered in Central Jutland, Denmark at Nebelgard Fen near Grauballe by a group of peat cutters (April 26, 1952) In 1887, a peat cutter referred to as “Red Christian”, had disappeared near Grauballe. At first many people thought that the body was his </li></ul><ul><li>Rabiocarbon dating from his liver shows he most likely died near the end of the 3 rd century B.C. </li></ul><ul><li>Age at death: 20 years </li></ul><ul><li>Stature estimation: 5’’7’  however his body may be slightly shrunken after centuries in the bog </li></ul><ul><li>Antemortem Pathology: extremely bad teeth  evidence of malnourishment/calcium deficiencies as a child, deformed/arthritic vertebrae </li></ul><ul><li>Peremortem Pathology: Throat was slit from ear to ear , severing the trachea and esophagus, cracked skull/blunt force trauma, very high amount of ergot in his system at time of death </li></ul><ul><li>Stomach contents/last meal: cereal/soup, meat/pork, many grains/wild seeds </li></ul>
  17. 19. <ul><li>Discovered by peat cutters in Shleswig, Northern Germany in a peat bog near Windeby (1952) </li></ul><ul><li>Died: 1 st century A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>Age at death: around 14 years old </li></ul><ul><li>Sex determination: because of Windeby’s slight build the remains were believed to be female  DNA analysis has recently shown that Windeby is actually a male </li></ul><ul><li>Half of the Windeby’s head appears to be shaven  may just be due to decay </li></ul><ul><li>Found with a woolen band covering the eyes  might have been used to tie the hair back, but slipped down after burial </li></ul><ul><li>Body found underneath heavy logs and branches  other than that there is no evidence of a violent death </li></ul>
  18. 21. <ul><li>Discovered in the Stijfveen peat bogs near Yde, Netherlands (May 12, 1897) </li></ul><ul><li>Date of death: ca. 54 B.C.- 128 A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>Age at death: about 16 years old </li></ul><ul><li>Antemortem pathology: suffered from scholiosis </li></ul><ul><li>Peremortem pathology: stab wound near her collar bone, and a band around her neck  possible strangulation </li></ul><ul><li>She was found wearing a cape, and half of her head was shaved as well </li></ul>
  19. 23. <ul><li>Also referred to as “Pete Marsh” by locals </li></ul><ul><li>Discovered by peat cutters in Lindow Moss near Cheshire, North West England (August 1, 1984) </li></ul><ul><li>One of the best preserved British mummies </li></ul><ul><li>Date of death: ca. 1 st -2 nd century A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>Age at death: mid- 20’s </li></ul><ul><li>Stature estimation: 5’6’’-5’8’’(difficult because only the top half of his body is present, so had to be determined by measurements of the humerii and humerofemoral index) </li></ul><ul><li>Antemortem pathology: teeth appear to be healthy and there is no evidence of hard/manual labor </li></ul><ul><li>Peremortem pathology: violent death/“triple killing”  blunt force trauma to the head, ligature marks on the neck/a cord wrapped around his neck, multiple stab wounds and broken bones </li></ul><ul><li>Found wearing a fox fur armband </li></ul><ul><li>Last meal: cereals/grains, charred bread, and mistletoe (mistletoe was a sacred plant to the Gauls and Druids, it can also be used as a sedative) </li></ul>
  20. 25. <ul><li>Discovered in Bourtanger Moor near Drenthe, Netherlands (1904) </li></ul><ul><li>Date of deaths: ca. 160 B.C.-220 A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>Ages at death: One of the men was middle aged, and the other appears to be in his late teens </li></ul><ul><li>Weerdinge couple?  Through analysis of the innominate bones (pelvis), it was determined that one of the bodies was male, skeletal material in the other body had deteriorated, but due to its small stature it was believed to be female </li></ul><ul><li>It was later discovered through DNA analysis that both were male and were not related  homosexuality? </li></ul><ul><li>Violent deaths?  one of the men had a chest wound and his entrails were “spilling” out, however, both bodies were carefully arranged in a “loving’ embrace </li></ul>
  21. 27. <ul><li>Large concentration of the bodies that have been found date between ca. 700 B.C.-200 A.D.  they are referred to as “Bog People” </li></ul><ul><li>So who exactly were the bog people? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-Earliest known settlers to invaded NW Europe  “Battle-axe People” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Present in the region at least 4,000 years ago </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Possibly spoke an Indo-European language (P.I.E.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Came from the Central Asian Steppes  possibly related/connected to the Pazyrks/Scythians, maybe even the Tocharians/Takalamakan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Possible ancestors of modern scandinavians  said to have been tall with fair hair and skin </li></ul></ul>
  22. 28. <ul><li>Before the arrival of the Romans, the people of these regions (celtic/germanic groups) could not read or write, thus we can look to written accounts by the Romans for more information on who these people were </li></ul><ul><li>These people farmed crops, raised animals, and also hunted/fished </li></ul><ul><li>Most popular funerary practice at the time: cremation </li></ul><ul><li>The Romans referred to them as “barbarians”, and arranged them into distinct tribes (Cimbri, Angles, and Jutes) </li></ul><ul><li>They are often described as fierce fighters, (fought among themselves and the Celts) while they sometimes rode on horseback, they were not renowned for this, they often fought on foot </li></ul>
  23. 29. <ul><li>Celtic tribes: </li></ul><ul><li>-Spoke languages from a major branch of the Indo-European family </li></ul><ul><li>-Evidence suggests that they interacted with the Germans, and may have shared similar belief systems/ritual practices </li></ul><ul><li>Ancient Germanic tribes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-Also fierce fighters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Often celebrated war victories/conquests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Worshiped many gods, but most important was Nerthus, the Earth Mother goddess of fertility </li></ul></ul>
  24. 30. <ul><li>Famous Historical Accounts </li></ul><ul><li>Tacitus ( Germania) 98 A.D. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-Described the region as being covered in “bristling forests, and foul swamps </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-People either ran naked or wore short capes, only the wealthy wore undergarments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Used spears and shields during battle, to leave behind a shield in battle was a punishable offense. Warriors who did this were often publicly shamed and then hung </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Traitors/deserters: punished by hanging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Cowards, shirkers, and sodomites: “pressed down under a wicker hurdle into the slimy mud of a bog” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Unfaithful women: husbands cut of their hair, took their clothes, and then flogged them through the village </li></ul></ul>
  25. 31. <ul><li>Tacitus contd.: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-made note of elaborate hairstyles of germanic tribes: Subi  only free men could wear their hair in a Sueban knot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Important Suebi  the Sennones held sacred rituals: would meet at a sacred grove and make a human sacrifice, each individual could only enter the grove if bound by a chord, if they fall they are not to get up, and must roll out over the ground </li></ul></ul>
  26. 32. <ul><li>Tacitus contd.: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-Anglii/Engels: worshiped Nerthus, Mother Earth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-They believed that she sometimes roamed earth with humans, when she decided to return to her sacred grove, she and her chariots must be cleansed in a lake. This riutal was to be performed by slaves who would then be drowned in the lake </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Slaves were also drowned in lakes for fertility ceremonies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Problems with these accounts: no reports of mass bog graves, many of the remains appear to belong to people of high nobility, not necessarily slaves  perhaps they were noble war prisoners? </li></ul></ul>
  27. 33. <ul><li>Strabo (Geographica) ca. 23 A.D. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- Germanic tribe Cimbri: had priestesses who would slit throats/disembowel war prisoners over large bronze cauldrons and then read their blood or entrails to predict vicotries/defeats in upcoming battles </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other references: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-Germans and Celts both revered groves/trees  their ability to die in winter/be reborn in spring, as well as their relations to the cosmos (roots in the underworld, trunks the mortal world, branches touching the heavens </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Also strong reverence for water/watery places: making offerings to water spirits was common practice </li></ul></ul>
  28. 34. <ul><li>-Celtic belief that deep water was a link to the underworld </li></ul><ul><li>-Also belief that lakes/bodies of water had healing powers  this belief might be a predecessor to modern day “wishing wells” </li></ul><ul><li>-Reverence to the sun  the sun is a universal symbol of nourishment/growth as well as rebirth, it would be especially important to agricultural/farming societies </li></ul><ul><li>-During the fall/winter months in Northern Europe the sun does not come out as long  there many celtic/germanic rituals based on the annual cycle of the sun </li></ul><ul><li>-The Number 3: For the Celts, three is a magic number  Events in myths occur three times, important deities are usually in triple form, also the practice of “triple killing” </li></ul>
  29. 35. <ul><li>Besides human remains, a large number of artifacts ranging from weaponry, pottery, carts/wagon wheels and jewelry have been recovered from bogs  possible offerings to water gods? </li></ul><ul><li>Specifically, large caches of “war booty” have been recovered (saddles, bridles, bow/arrows, swords, sheilds, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Many of these items appear to have been deliberately broken  making them useless in the mortal world, or possibly useless to their fallen enemies in the underworld? Also, could the multiple wounds found on some of the bog bodies hold the same meaning? </li></ul>
  30. 36. <ul><li>Many goblets, chalices, and cauldrons have been recovered </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolism: used to hold liquids/water in a confined space  miniature ponds? </li></ul><ul><li>Also, cauldrons are used for cooking so they provide “life-support”, another consideration can be seen in Strabo’s accounts of blood letting/reading entrails in cauldrons </li></ul><ul><li>Cauldrons also important to Indo-European steppe nomads who are possibly related to Celtic/Germanic tribes </li></ul>
  31. 37. <ul><li>Gundestrup Cauldron: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discovered in a Danish peat bog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Broken into 6 pieces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Appears to have been deposited around 100 B.C. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Made of silver </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>After piecing it back together it appears to depict scenes that match up to historical accounts of the bog people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Images include: human sacrifice, warriors, tree of life, and dogs (Celtic symbol of death), goddesses, mythical creatures, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  32. 40. <ul><li>Sun: many people have been buried with discs/solar wheels  possibly to give them light/guidance in the afterlife? </li></ul><ul><li>Dogs: symbol of death  a man’s body was recovered with two dogs, his legs and stomach were badly bitten/torn indicating that they were put into the bog while still alive (dogs also seen on the Gundestrup Cauldron) </li></ul><ul><li>Clothing: most bog bodies are found naked but a few are wearing cloaks/undergarments  matches up with Roman accounts of these “barbarians” </li></ul>
  33. 41. <ul><li>Slit throats: match up with accounts of blood letting  possible war prisoners </li></ul><ul><li>Shaved heads: match description of punishments for adultery  hanging/placing bodies in bogs also match up to punishments for various crimes </li></ul><ul><li>“ Triple killings”: some bog bodies appear to have three types of injuries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-Possibly to give sacrificial offering to different sets of gods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Drowing/placing bodies in bogs to appease water gods/underworld </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Stabbing/strangling to appease the earth gods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Hanging to appease the sky gods </li></ul></ul>
  34. 42. <ul><li>Tacitus’ accounts of Suebian rituals  match up with chords/ropes found around the necks of individuals, as well as broken bones (when individuals fell they were not allowed to get up) </li></ul><ul><li>Entire wagons/carts have been recovered  matches Tacitus’ accounts of rituals where the goddess Nerthus returns to the underworld </li></ul><ul><li>Last Meals: stomach contents with a large array of herbs, seeds, and oats indicate death during winter  possible ritual to insure a good agricultural season </li></ul>
  35. 43. <ul><li>A few more things to consider: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- Traces of ergot/sedatives & hallucinogens found in stomachs of bog bodies  common with religious sacrifices in many cultures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some “disabled” individuals  in many cultures the disabled are viewed as “special/mystical” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many remains do not show evidence of hard labor throughout life  possible nobiliy </li></ul></ul>
  36. 44. <ul><li>Did these people know about the natural embalming properties of the bogs/is this a form of intentional mummification? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-lived near bogs for over a 1,000 year period, possibility that animals/ppl who accidentally fell in and were later found is high </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-used peat as fuel source  they probably found remains of animals while cutting peat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-such an “auspicious” occurrence would most likely been taken note of  we can assume that ppl placed in bogs had some sort of special status </li></ul></ul>
  37. 45. <ul><ul><li>- There are accounts that the Celts believed in cycles of rebirth after death, but many other cultures that mummify remains believe in a long afterlife  possibly placing bodies in the bog (underworld), and then preserving them forever would trap them in the underworld </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In the case of sacrifice, did these people volunteer themselves for the good of the community or were they war prisoners? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In many societies human sacrifice= balance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Especially among agricultural societies  “the loss of one for the welfare of all”  volunteers would prob. receive special status </li></ul></ul>
  38. 46. <ul><ul><li>-Warfare: in times of famine people will almost always raid others to gain materials/supplies, possibility that these bodies are war captives is also considerable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-It is mentioned that they were fierce warriors/unafraid of death, perhaps giving one’s life in sacrifice would be considered noble </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If cremation was a popular funerary custom during the Iron Age, why place a body in the bog? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-If these bodies were meant to be sacrificial offerings to the gods, ashes would be useless </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-If these were criminals, they might not deserve proper burial/funerary rights </li></ul></ul>
  39. 47. <ul><li>These people subsisted agriculturally  obvious that great value was placed on crops/ensuring a plentiful harvest </li></ul><ul><li>Natural forces (seasonal rythms/weather, plant cycles annual life/death/rebirth) probably played a major role in shaping the beliefs and understandings of human life for these people </li></ul><ul><li>Victory in war/battle was also of major importance in the lives of these people  it should therefore be considered when analyzing the cultural, archaeological, and physical remains of these people </li></ul>
  40. 48. <ul><li>Like many mummies found around the world, bog mummies have become symbols of national pride and identity among many of the people of north western europe </li></ul><ul><li>Many modern artisits have constructed sculptures, sketches, and artistic photographs of the mummies </li></ul><ul><li>Also, there are many famous danish poets and authors who have written about the mummies </li></ul>
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