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Bronze Age Mummies in Britain

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posted on Oct, 1 2015 @ 03:47 PM
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It might just be that the Frankenstein Mummies of Cladh Hallan, South Uist in the Hebrides, are not the only Bronze Age mummies in Scotland, or for that matter, the UK.



The mummies were found to date from around 1300 - 1600 BC and stranger still, they were found to be a collection of different people:



Further examination of the remains led to another startling discovery. The male skeleton is actually a composite. Its torso, skull and neck, and lower jaw belong to three separate men. New DNA tests prove that the female skeleton is also a composite formed from a male skull, a female torso, and the arm of a third person, whose gender has yet to be determined. Carbon dating indicates that the skull of the female mummy is probably 50 to 200 years older than the torso.



www.archaeology.org/issues/61-1301/features/272-top-10-2012-frankenstein-mummies


A study which followed on from the Cladh Hallan findings has been led by Dr. Tom Booth from the University of Sheffield. Together with colleagues from the University of Manchester and University College, London, they studied a number of Bronze Age skeletal remains from around Britain.



The team from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology found that the remains of some ancient Britons are consistent with a prehistoric mummy from northern Yemen and a partially mummified body recovered from a sphagnum peat bog in County Roscommon, Ireland.

Building on a previous study conducted at a single Bronze Age burial site in the Outer Hebrides, Dr Booth used microscopic analysis to compare the bacterial bioerosion of skeletons from various sites across the UK with the bones of the mummified bodies from Yemen and Ireland.
Archaeologists widely agree that the damp British climate is not favourable to organic materials and all prehistoric mummified bodies that may be located in the UK will have lost their preserved tissue if buried outside of a preservative environment such as a bog.
Microscopic bone analysis

Dr Booth, who is now based at the Department of Earth Sciences at London’s Natural History Museum, said: “The problem archaeologists face is finding a consistent method of identifying skeletons that were mummified in the past – especially when they discover a skeleton that is buried outside of a protective environment.

“To help address this, our team has found that by using microscopic bone analysis archaeologists can determine whether a skeleton has been previously mummified even when it is buried in an environment that isn’t favourable to mummified remains.
“We know from previous research that bones from bodies that have decomposed naturally are usually severely degraded by putrefactive bacteria, whereas mummified bones demonstrate immaculate levels of histological preservation and are not affected by putrefactive bioerosion.”






Dr Booth added, “Our research shows that smoking over a fire and purposeful burial within a peat bog are among some of the techniques ancient Britons may have used to mummify their dead. Other techniques could have included evisceration, in which organs were removed shortly after death.

“The idea that British and potentially European Bronze Age communities invested resources in mummifying and curating a proportion of their dead fundamentally alters our perceptions of funerary ritual and belief in this period.”
The research also demonstrates that funerary rituals that we may now regard as exotic, novel and even bizarre were practised commonly for hundreds of years by our predecessors.



It is worth bearing in mind that this practise was contemporaneous with Egyptian mummification, and so it is possible that this was common practise across Europe too. It really challenges my perceptions of Bronze Age Britain, as mummies are not something I readily connect with early Scotland.

I also read this article the other day – Sauna discovered in Orkney – and it just occurred to me that this may have been a funerary smoke-house?

www.pasthorizonspr.com...





The early analysis work suggested that the building is likely to be a ‘burnt mound’, which generally comprises of a fireplace, water tank and a pile of burnt stone. Through experimentation and reference to medieval Irish literature, experts have been able to deduce that stones were roasted on a hearth before being placed into the tank of water, bringing the water to a boiling point and producing lots of steam. The hot water could then be used to cook large quantities of food or for bathing, brewing, textile working, or any other of a range of activities.
The hidden nature of the building together with its restricted access and tightly packed cells, suggest that it served a more specialised function than most burnt mounds and that rather than being a gathering place for the many, it would have been used by a more select group, and likely used as a sauna or steam house.


Just a thought.

B x

www.pasthorizonspr.com...

edit on 1-10-2015 by beansidhe because: tags




posted on Oct, 1 2015 @ 04:53 PM
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originally posted by: beansidhe

It is worth bearing in mind that this practise was contemporaneous with Egyptian mummification, and so it is possible that this was common practise across Europe too. It really challenges my perceptions of Bronze Age Britain, as mummies are not something I readily connect with early Scotland.



This is not a practice, mummification was a side effect, not a deliberate act. If they found bog mummies in a grave then they would be mummies that were discovered in a bog by local people unconnected to their original sacrifice and then reburied.

I am sure you are familiar with the practice of burning peat in Scotland. Its peat collection that is responsible for most of the bog mummies found around the world, including Gunnister man, a mummified man found in a bog in Shetland.
en.wikipedia.org...

So this has nothing to do with any practice across Europe and certainly nothing to do with Egypt



posted on Oct, 1 2015 @ 05:17 PM
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a reply to: Marduk

Hello Marduk. The exciting thing about the article is that the archaeologists involved, both at Cladh Hallan and now at the University of Sheffield, are stating that they believe that mummification was intentional, exactly as in Egypt.



When a body is placed in the right sort of peat bog, its skin and sinews are tanned in much the same way that animal skin is turned into leather. The bone is also altered, and it becomes demineralised. The longer it is kept in the peat bog, the deeper into the bone the demineralisation process penetrates. If a peat bog had been used simply to preserve an individual sufficiently to keep the skeleton permanently in place (ie to preserve the person's skin and sinews), then the body would only have needed to stay in the bog for between 6 and 18 months, and that would have resulted in the demineralisation of only the outer few millimetres of bone.

Extraordinarily, that is precisely what the forensic tests showed had occurred. The scientific analysis revealed that just the outer 2mm of the bone had been demineralised.


The technique used to reveal this is based on the fact that, after death, the bacteria in the gut start devouring the body and attacking the skeleton. The bacterial onslaught changes the bone by riddling it with tiny holes. The degree of bacterial damage can then be tested to a high degree of accuracy by a forensic procedure known to scientists as mercury porosimetry.

A piece of bone, the volume of which has been very accurately measured, is placed inside a container of known volume. Mercury is then forced into the container under pressure.
Some of the mercury enters the tiny holes made by the bacteria - and the scientists can then measure how much mercury has penetrated into the bone and therefore how much bacterial attack took place. In the case of the two South Uist skeletons, the test revealed a very low level of bacterial attack - a level consistent with the body being placed in a peat bog a day or two after death.


BBC Cladh Hallan

Booth's assertion, by way of his test, is that these mummies were created purposefully, not by accident.

And yes, I love the smell of peat fires, they remind me of my granny!
edit on 1-10-2015 by beansidhe because: eta 1st para in quote



posted on Oct, 1 2015 @ 10:07 PM
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originally posted by: beansidhe
a reply to: Marduk

Hello Marduk. The exciting thing about the article is that the archaeologists involved, both at Cladh Hallan and now at the University of Sheffield, are stating that they believe that mummification was intentional, exactly as in Egypt.



When a body is placed in the right sort of peat bog, its skin and sinews are tanned in much the same way that animal skin is turned into leather. The bone is also altered, and it becomes demineralised. The longer it is kept in the peat bog, the deeper into the bone the demineralisation process penetrates. If a peat bog had been used simply to preserve an individual sufficiently to keep the skeleton permanently in place (ie to preserve the person's skin and sinews), then the body would only have needed to stay in the bog for between 6 and 18 months, and that would have resulted in the demineralisation of only the outer few millimetres of bone.

Extraordinarily, that is precisely what the forensic tests showed had occurred. The scientific analysis revealed that just the outer 2mm of the bone had been demineralised.


The technique used to reveal this is based on the fact that, after death, the bacteria in the gut start devouring the body and attacking the skeleton. The bacterial onslaught changes the bone by riddling it with tiny holes. The degree of bacterial damage can then be tested to a high degree of accuracy by a forensic procedure known to scientists as mercury porosimetry.

A piece of bone, the volume of which has been very accurately measured, is placed inside a container of known volume. Mercury is then forced into the container under pressure.
Some of the mercury enters the tiny holes made by the bacteria - and the scientists can then measure how much mercury has penetrated into the bone and therefore how much bacterial attack took place. In the case of the two South Uist skeletons, the test revealed a very low level of bacterial attack - a level consistent with the body being placed in a peat bog a day or two after death.


BBC Cladh Hallan

Booth's assertion, by way of his test, is that these mummies were created purposefully, not by accident.

And yes, I love the smell of peat fires, they remind me of my granny!

I know what they're saying, but I don't think the evidence supports it.
Bog mummies are only mummified when they're in the bog because of the anaerobic composition of the peat. When they're found they have to be preserved or they rot. So I think they have drawn a false conclusion.





Decay is likely to become established following excavation unless a body is kept at a low temperature.

www.britishmuseum.org...



The freeze-drying process was considered a success, and after some final cleaning and repair, Lindow Man was placed on display in a specially constructed and environmentally controlled showcase.

edit on 1-10-2015 by Marduk because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 2 2015 @ 03:54 AM
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a reply to: Marduk

I think the evidence could support it. The bodies seem to have been 'dipped' in peat, for around a year rather than tossed in and left there.

Only their skeletons remain now, because they weren't kept in the right environment, unlike Lindow man in your example above. If you consider the following:


The overwhelming majority of bog bodies – including famous examples such as Tollund Man, Grauballe Man and Lindow Man – date to the Iron Age and have been found in Northern European lands, particularly Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Such Iron Age bog bodies typically illustrate a number of similarities, such as violent deaths and a lack of clothing, leading archaeologists to believe that they were killed and deposited in the bogs as a part of a widespread cultural tradition of human sacrifice or the execution of criminals.


wiki bog bodies

It is just a suggestion, but worth noting that most bog bodies are found with their throats slit etc. I was considering that mummification may have been a punishment, a way of trapping people in their bodies for eternity, preventing them from reincarnating.



posted on Oct, 2 2015 @ 04:08 AM
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originally posted by: beansidhe
It is just a suggestion, but worth noting that most bog bodies are found with their throats slit etc. I was considering that mummification may have been a punishment, a way of trapping people in their bodies for eternity, preventing them from reincarnating.


And they were fed the best food as a precursor to that punishment and always sacrificed in the Summer

I think there has been more than enough evidence to prove the sacrificial theory, but you don't preserve a body by sticking it in a bog for a year, it certainly won't last for 600 years..
You can't have it both ways, you can't have them preserving bodies by using a method that won't preserve them and then claim that was deliberate. It makes no sense



posted on Oct, 2 2015 @ 04:21 AM
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originally posted by: beansidhe
It is just a suggestion, but worth noting that most bog bodies are found with their throats slit etc. I was considering that mummification may have been a punishment, a way of trapping people in their bodies for eternity, preventing them from reincarnating.


Interestingly enough it is my opinion that the throat cutting bog bodies are "victims" of witch binding rituals with the intended purpose of preventing the witch's powers escaping upon death and continuing their malevolence. The Egyptian mummification practices ensured that spirit and body were reunited in the after life, which obviously is not the same as reincarnation, but similarly, they did see bogs and marshland as a route to the otherworld, so there are possible similarities.

Could it be experimentation perhaps, they could have heard about Egyptian practices on the grapevine from copper traders moving between those two worlds. I'd be more inclined to suspect that they could be evidence of human haruspicy, hence the absence of organs, and that their partial immersion in the bog was so that they could be used to transmit and receive information from the underworld, according to their beliefs. That's my best guess, but I shall save it for mulling over, it's definately an intriguing one, well spotted.



posted on Oct, 2 2015 @ 04:23 AM
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a reply to: Marduk




...but you don't preserve a body by sticking it in a bog for a year, it certainly won't last for 600 years..


Perhaps the reason it never caught on.


You'll be well aware that peat bogs were used to keep things preserved, just like a potato clamp nowadays.


One ancient artifact found in bogs in many places is bog butter, large masses of fat, usually in wooden containers. These are thought to have been food stores, of both butter and tallow.


peat bogs

The folk then knew that peat preserved food for a while, and possibly had found preserved bodies of their own. They wouldn't have known for how long a body would be preserved until they tried it, presumably.
So I still think it could have been intentional.



posted on Oct, 2 2015 @ 04:31 AM
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The archaeologists are claiming



To the astonishment of the archaeologists, they saw that one individual (a male) had died in around 1,600 BC - but had been buried a full six centuries later, in around 1,000 BC. What is more, a second individual (a female) had died in around 1,300 BC - and had had to wait 300 years before being interred.


They are saying that a short immersion preserved the bodies for up to six centuries
We both know that even hundreds of years of immersion would have the bodies decaying shortly after excavation
so their claims seem based on ignorance, probably because no one involved has ever had anything to do with bog burials

and to claim that this is a reason for all bog burials is nonsense, what did they do with all the other bodies still buried in peat that have been discovered, forget where they left them ?
lol

edit on 2-10-2015 by Marduk because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 2 2015 @ 04:43 AM
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a reply to: Anaana

This is why I love coming to ATS, because it's an opportunity to wonder about these sorts of things with other people who are interested too. They might agree or disagree, but a conversation is started and there aren't places in my own life where people are interested in these subjects.



Interestingly enough it is my opinion that the throat cutting bog bodies are "victims" of witch binding rituals with the intended purpose of preventing the witch's powers escaping upon death and continuing their malevolence.


That reminds me of the 'vampire' burials where skeletons are found with a rock in their mouth, to stop them eating other corpses and spreading plague.
The absence of organs is intriguing, and haruspicy is an interesting thought. It does deserve some mulling, I agree.



posted on Oct, 2 2015 @ 04:51 AM
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originally posted by: beansidhe
a reply to: Anaana

This is why I love coming to ATS, because it's an opportunity to wonder about these sorts of things with other people who are interested too. They might agree or disagree, but a conversation is started and there aren't places in my own life where people are interested in these subjects.



Interestingly enough it is my opinion that the throat cutting bog bodies are "victims" of witch binding rituals with the intended purpose of preventing the witch's powers escaping upon death and continuing their malevolence.


That reminds me of the 'vampire' burials where skeletons are found with a rock in their mouth, to stop them eating other corpses and spreading plague.
The absence of organs is intriguing, and haruspicy is an interesting thought. It does deserve some mulling, I agree.


Usually in these "rush to press" cases, they story is completely different a few weeks later when the experts have shared their opinion. I expect they will then be saying that the bodies were found in a local bog and then just reburied immediately. That's all that the evidence that I've seen so far suggests, after all, who is going to remember why these people were murdered 300 years later in a place that was completely illiterate. Lets wait and see what develops
In the meantime, they will probably be looking for funding



posted on Oct, 2 2015 @ 04:53 AM
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a reply to: Marduk

They're not saying that this is the reaon for all bog burials, just the ones listed in the OP. Also they didn't know they were mummies initaily, because only the bones were found.


No mummified body tissue had survived - so it was not immediately obvious to the excavators what they had found, when they first came across two skeletons at Cladh Hallan. They did, however, think the skeletons looked very unusual, being very highly flexed, like Peruvian mummies.


It was only later when they tested them that they realised that they had been mummified previously. I can't defend their ignorance or lack thereof, or their experience with bog burials either as I have no idea who they are.
You could well be right and they are jut jumping to conclusions, but I find it interesting that there are now several examples of skeletons across the British Isles whose bones show evidence of having previously been mummified ie very low levels of post mortem bacterial attack.



posted on Oct, 2 2015 @ 04:55 AM
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a reply to: Marduk




Lets wait and see what develops In the meantime, they will probably be looking for funding


Deal.
I will watch this one over the next few months and promise to update this thread no matter how humiliating the results may be.



posted on Oct, 2 2015 @ 05:19 AM
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posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 12:58 AM
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originally posted by: beansidhe
It was only later when they tested them that they realised that they had been mummified previously. I can't defend their ignorance or lack thereof, or their experience with bog burials either as I have no idea who they are.
You could well be right and they are jut jumping to conclusions, but I find it interesting that there are now several examples of skeletons across the British Isles whose bones show evidence of having previously been mummified ie very low levels of post mortem bacterial attack.


Pondering and lookiing through it again I am wondering how they ruled out whether the bones had been defleshed prior to being immersed in the bog. Given the mish-mash of skeletons, I am wondering whether this, rather than intentional mummification, is an example of a cross roads of beliefs and practices, from excarnation and ancestor worship involving continued interaction with the bones and skeletons, as we see at places like Newton Grange etc. Such bones, still in practical use, were possibly bundled together when the new practices came into force.



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 12:40 PM
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a reply to: Anaana

Good question, I really don't know. Maybe there would be scrape marks on the bones that would demonstrate that this had happened? If Marduk's still reading, hopefully he'll be able to answer that.

It could well be an example of a cross roads of beliefs, and we are left trying to make sense of a number of practices over time and distilling them into one 'answer'. I'll update this thread should any more news come out, which gives us a bit more detail.




posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 01:34 PM
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a reply to: beansidhe

Nice thread Beansidhe,
  I just got a chance to read your source article,
My what a fascinating read.
I'm going to disagree with Marduk,
They were only in the bog for 12-18 months, just enough to tan the skin and connective tissues, but not fully preserve the whole thing and demineralize the bone and not long enough to become dependant on the the bogs environment to support the bodies integrity.
And they might have been smoked first.
It is very different from remains that have been in the bog for an extremely long period, which do need special preservation once removed from the peat.
In north America, Clovis people were known to cache portions of large game animals in peat bogs and come back at a later time to get the meat.
Smoking is likely a old as the controlled use of fire, recent work shows that Neanderthal smoked meats.
Smoking is also a very common mortuary practice in South America and Oceana.
And while writing this recall a local NA method of tanning a deer hide.
First the hide is smoked and the hair scraped off, then a depression near a creek and oak trees, or a boggy area is cleared to form a pool. Then several baskets of water are boiled with acorns and oak leaves and bark. That is added to the water in the depression along with more acorns and leaves and bark.
Then the hide is soaked in the brine for a few days then dried.

From the article,

To the astonishment of the archaeologists, they saw that one individual (a male) had died in around 1,600 BC - but had been buried a full six centuries later, in around 1,000 BC. What is more, a second individual (a female) had died in around 1,300 BC - and had had to wait 300 years before being interred.


What i take from this statement and the fact that the remains were reassembled, is that people who buried them were not the people that mummified them. Both of these sets of remains were buried around the same time,1000bc.

I don't think it is unreasonable to believe, that in this somewhat isolated place, a unique burial custom was practiced only to be forgotten, along with the site. Then later people find the mummies and bury them according to their custom. I also don't think it has anything to do with the later iron age bog mummies.
Here in central cal. we had a similar happening in later part of the 19th century.
As the old world settlers started up their big ranches, many of the early local ranch hands were native Americans.
We have a particular geology where the valley starts to rise into the mountains, ancient lava flows have been undercut by erosion and formed low shallow caves, and in most of these caves natural mummies, many wrapped in native fiber textiles, were packed into them.
Since it was the custom to cremate their dead , the yokuts were somewhat shocked that there were dead people laying around, there is an odd old tale about dead Indians standing back up, but that's for another thread.
So they convinced the ranchers that the bodies should be collected up and burned in a proper fashion.
I read a contemporary newspaper report about one such cremation, the mummies were stacked like "fence rails" and burned in the hundreds, along with all of the grave goods.




 



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 02:26 PM
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a reply to: punkinworks10

Hello punkinworks, always nice to see you!
I was fascinated by the article too, and really excited. I do believe the mummification was intentional.
The 'crossover' idea of customs is a really good one, and your example really clarifies that. That must have been pretty gruesome to discover a cave of mummified corpses, but it only goes to show how customs change, and how fluid we can be as a species.

Anaana's idea of a 'crossroads' made me check what was happening in Orkney in around 1600bc.


Within the earthen mound, a stone cist containing four exquisitely crafted gold "sun" discs was discovered, along with 27 amber beads and a number of burnt human bones. This find has, to date, been unparalleled anywhere else in Orkney.


The Knowes of Trotty - Orkneyjar

Although Orkney is remote to us now, it was absolutely the place to be in the Neolithic period. The ongoing Ness of Brodgar excavations are currently unearthing over 6 acres of temples, buildings and houses. If anywhere was going to learn about new funerary practices, my money would be on Orkney.




I don't think it is unreasonable to believe, that in this somewhat isolated place, a unique burial custom was practiced only to be forgotten, along with the site. Then later people find the mummies and bury them according to their custom. I also don't think it has anything to do with the later iron age bog mummies.


I agree, it seems like a very reasonable solution.



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:03 PM
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a reply to: beansidhe
Beansidhe,

Once again fascinating stuff, thanks for those links.






Within the earthen mound, a stone cist containing four exquisitely crafted gold "sun" discs was discovered, along with 27 amber beads and a number of burnt human bones. This find has, to date, been unparalleled anywhere else in Orkney.



The Knowes of Trotty - Orkneyjar

Although Orkney is remote to us now, it was absolutely the place to be in the Neolithic period. The ongoing Ness of Brodgar excavations are currently unearthing over 6 acres of temples, buildings and houses. If anywhere was going to learn about new funerary practices, my money would be on Orkney.


This statement also make good sense,

Dr Alison Sheridan of the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh has her own idea on this.

Speaking in July 2005, she suggests that at some point in the past, a group of Orcadians visited Wessex, where they picked up new ideas and fashions and took them back home. The Ring of Brodgar in Stenness, she suggests, could be an Orcadian attempt to recreate the massive stone circle of Avebury.


Fascinating stuff thanks again B.






posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:05 PM
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a reply to: punkinworks10
I also cant help but notice that 1600 date keeps popping back up.
Cultural unsettling due to the aftermath of the Theran eruption, and the disruption in climate and trade?




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