Ever since I was a child I was fascinated by mummies, I watched all the movies and scared myself to sleep at night. I was also very interested in ancient Egypt and I am still interested in ancient cultures even today.
Mummies are corpses, which have been preserved over time with their skin and organs still intact. Mummies can be preserved through human intervention or can be preserved by nature.
This article will focus on bog bodies, a sequel will be written on Egyptian mummies.
The Natural process of mummification
The natural process of mummification occurs when the human body has been preserved somehow as a result of natural forces. Bodies could have been preserved due to chemicals, humidity, very cold conditions (such as frozen in a glacier), high humidity and even lack of air (which aids in the putrification process). This last condition occurs when bodies have been found in bogs, Swamps, fens (a wetland that is made from rainwater, different from the acidic bog), and marshes.
Bogs are wetlands covered with decomposing plant life and they are abundant in our Northern Hemisphere. The lack of air below the surface makes it ideal for preserving corpses. The water is acidic and the decomposition process is very slow.
Bodies of human’s preserved in bogs have been found all over Northwestern Europe; namely Britain, Denmark, Northern Germany and the Netherlands. Some of these bodies date back to 8,000 B.C.
During the Roman Iron Age many of these bodies were and dumped in the bogs after military victories, or for punishment for violent crimes, including homosexuality. Some of these bodies were sacrificed as a cure for illness and many of these once living individuals died a violent death.
Two of the earliest found bog bodies were of two young girls found in Sigersdal, near Copenhagen. These stabbed and strangled bodies dated back to about 3,500 B.C.
Two naked bodies were found in a bog in the Netherlands, in Bourtanger Moor in 1904. Both bodies were male dating back to 160 B.C. and 220 A.D. respectively. One of the bodies had been stabbed while the cause of death for the other one has never been determined.
A more horrendous fate was levied upon a woman found in a bog in Ramten, Jutland, Denmark. She lived around 160 B.C. and 340 A.D. Her body showed signs of being hacked and her right arm was completely hacked off of her body before she was thrown in the bog.
In 1897 a young girl was found to have been strangled and stabbed and dumped in a bog. She lived around 170 B.C. and A.D 230.
The Elling Woman who lived during the pre-Roman Iron Age (350 and 100 BC) was found in Silkeborg, Denmark in 1938. She too had been strangled.
The Tullund Man
The Tullund Man was found in a bog in Denmark in 1950. He was considered to be over 2,000 years old. However, most bodies found in bogs date back to the Iron Age. The Tullund Man at first glance looked like he had just died a few days before discovery. There was a rope around his neck and archeologists believe that he was a sacrifice to the fertility goddesses. He was hanged and then thrown into the bog.
Strangely enough his skin was well preserved but some of his bones disintegrated over time. Not all his organs survived, but his stomach was still in place and complete with his last meal of porridge with seeds and vegetables. Unfortunately the preservation techniques of the 1950’s did not preserve the Tulland Man. All that is remaining is his head, and it can be found in the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark.
Not all bog people were poor peasants sacrificed at the whim of some master. Two Irish bog bodies were found of young men who had manicured fingernails and gel in their hair. These men were believed to be wealthy yet still sacrificed to the gods during the Roman Iron Age around 392 B.C. to 175 B.C. These men were both tortured. The one named the Oldcroghan man was, “stabbed, his nipples were sliced, and he had holes cut in his upper arms through which a rope was threaded in order to restrain him,” Mulhall said. He was also cut in half across the torso.
These bodies can be found in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin Ireland.
The Queen in the Bog
The Haraldskaer Woman was found in Gunnelsmose, Denmark in 1835. It was once believed she was Gunhild the Norwegian Queen who lived around 1000 A.D. The Danish king Harald Blatand (Blue Tooth), had her killed and then thrown in the bog. There was controversy about if this truly was the body of the Queen and later it was shown that this bog body could not have been, for it predated the time of Queen Gunhild by 1,500 hundred years.
Some bog people had visible signs of holes made to the skull. It is believed this procedure had been done some time in their life to cure brain anomalies or maybe release evil spirits.
Theories for depositing bodies in bogs
Well we have three as was presented here, one was for executions of criminals, A second is that people with abnormalities were sacrificed in the bogs and the third was that any individual was sacrificed to appease the Gods. Human sacrifices were common throughout Europe in the Roman Bronze Age. Individuals were killed often by stabbing and strangulation and thrown in the bog along with precious artifacts and jewelry and such for the Gods and Goddesses of the ancient world.
http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/bog/ http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/01/0117_060117_irish_bogmen.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/british_prehistory/human_sacrifice_02.shtml