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Ancient Crimes and Sacrifice

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posted on Mar, 20 2009 @ 02:39 PM
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Over centuries, the remains of hundreds of men, women and children have been discovered preserved in the peat bogs of Northern Europe. Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Holland and Britain have all played host to these ‘bog bodies.’ The states of preservation are diverse; including complete bodies, detached limbs and heads. They span millennia, ranging from medieval times back to 8000BC. Discovery of the bodies is often by fortune, some will have been destroyed in the recovery of the peat and others have simply been lost to degeneration. Many are from the Iron Age and are thought by some to be victims of ritual sacrifice. The Jury is still out and archaeology still discusses the reasons behind so many deaths.

Northern European societies weren’t isolated enclaves of distinct identities. They were influenced by neighboring communities and regions via trade and the influx of minorities and craftsmen as much as we are today. Ideas and technology would be fluid across the European land mass with areas sharing similar patterns of belief systems. Naturally, given the lack of recorded histories from these disparate cultures, it falls to conquerors to provide written accounts…


And according to Julius Caesar (writing c. 15 March, 44 B. C. E.) De Bello Gallico 6.16): All the people of Gaul are completely devoted to religion, and for this reason those who are greatly affected by diseases and in the dangers of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow to do so using the Druids as administrators to these sacrifices, since it is judged that unless for a man's life a man's life is given back, the will of the immortal gods cannot be placated. In public affairs they have instituted the same kind of sacrifice. Others have effigies of great size interwoven with twigs, the limbs of which are filled up with living people which are set on fire from below, and the people are deprived of life surrounded by flames. It is judged that the punishment of those who participated in theft or brigandage or other crimes are more pleasing to the immortal gods; but when the supplies of this kind fail, they even go so low as to inflict punishment on the innocent (trans. Anne Lea, in Koch and Carey 1995. 22).
Human Sacrifice

Tacitus described how the Iron Age tribes of England would be led by Druids imploring the Gods whilst women in black would weave between the warriors screaming and wailing. Roman soldiers ‘stood motionless, exposed to wounds’ through fear. After winning such battles Tacitus relates that…


A force was next set over the conquered, and their groves, devoted to inhuman superstitions, were destroyed. They deemed it indeed a duty to cover their altars with the blood of captives and to consult their deities through human entrails.'
Source

Maybe the bisected remains of various ‘bog bodies’ are testament to the lurid accounts of such eminent Romans? Could the disembowelling indicate religious practices that involved sacrifice and divination through a victim’s intestines? There is some evidence that would support this idea…



They are usually found with nooses around their necks and other signs of great violence. Few went ‘gently into that good night;’ Tongues are distended and prove choking a factor in their deaths. Their remains tell a very human story of sacrifice, rejection and murder. The following images are the equivalent of modern ‘scene of crime’ photos, reflecting an instant in the distant past when a human being met a violent end…

SourceTorso of ‘Old Croghan Man’ and the head and torso of another body found in Croghan Hill and Clonycavan, Ireland. Each man had met a grisly end.

Source Close up of the well preserved nails of Old Croghan Man.


Due to mechanized peat-cutting in modern times bodies are now frequently identified in segmented parts, such as the feet, the head or part of the trunk. This was the case with the Lindow Man, a bog body discovered in an Essex bog in 1988. There are records of 89 bog bodies found in Ireland since the early 19th century, 25 of which are from Northern Ireland. The majority are from the 17th century with a small number of prehistoric bodies. While the number of 17th century bodies found in blanket and raised bogs is comparable, all the prehistoric bodies have been found in raised bogs. The absence of any discoveries in fen peat is not surprising, as there is usually only a very shallow layer of peat in fens.
Source


During the mechanical recovery of peat, these two bodies rolled off the machinery in 2003. Prompted by the recent history of ‘The Troubles’ in Ireland and the preservation of the bodies; the Guardia (police) were called. Modern murder needed to be ruled out before archaeologists could investigate.

Each of the men is thought to have been ritually sacrificed. They show signs of being from a higher status for the period (between 362-102BC). Croghan Man’s hands show no signs of manual labor and his nails remain well-manicured. Based on the size of his torso, estimates put him at a sizable 6’ 6” tall. In contrast, Clonycavan Man was about 5’ 2” tall and sports a tall, gelled hairstyle that might indicate compensation for lack of height. Analysis by Stephen Buckley (University of York, England) revealed the gel was made of vegetable plant oil mixed with resin from pine trees found in Spain and southwest France. The hair product is evidence of Iron Age trade across Western Europe and also shows that modern male vanity is far from anomalous to our times




Clonycavan man was killed by three axe blows to the head and was then disemboweled. Croghan Man suffered a more elaborate and torturous death that remains horrific, even to our jaded sensibilities…


Old Croghan man shows signs of cruel torture before he was beheaded. “He 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 says. He was also cut in half across the torso. “There was definitely an attempt to use several different methods to traumatize and torture the men,” Mulhall adds.
www.signonsandiego.com..." target="_blank" class="postlink" rel="nofollow">Source

The reasons why people met their deaths adjacent to the bogs will probably remain unclear and open to informed speculation. Several bodies have had their stomach contents analysed and the results have led to ideas of ritual sacrifice to some pagan aspect of the regional mythology. In some cases it was evident that they had fasted for at least one day prior to death and interment in the bog. Other bodies have shown high quantities of ergot(hallucinogen) that could reflect traditional shamanistic practices.





posted on Mar, 20 2009 @ 02:46 PM
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Possibly a pagan society imbued with superstition would be acutely aware of good omens and naturally seek to appease the spirits. Traditional binary opposites like good and evil were interpellated in their mythologies. Tokens and signs of good fortune would be supported, whereas ‘bad luck’ and people that represented ill fortune would be sacrificed to gain favour with myriad gods and spirits. In their mythologies, the bog could represent a physical manifestation of a portal to the underworld. The victims that were consigned to the cold water and sphagnum may have been sacrifices or even emissaries sent to appease a demanding nature spirit…

In the Netherlands, a body of a young girl was recovered outside the small town of Yde. She’s been dated to have lived around 100BC and only some few generations from the Croghan and Clonycavan men. Her immediate population group could have shared similar features in their religious beliefs to those of Croghan Man. Many religious tenets reflect societal values such as ‘otherness’ and the social needs of humanity to form groups. What if someone eschewed the group? Moreover, what can happen when the group rejects the individual? If the killings were based on the religious practises of the time, rather than simple murder, her death could have been to offset ill-fortune…

Yde girl

She was only around sixteen years old and has become known as ‘Yde girl.’ The hair in the image is hers and has kept its colour over the centuries. Half of her hair had been shaved off although it’s possible that partial exposure of the body after death was the cause. It’s the human aspect that makes these bodies interesting and whilst time prevents us from knowing everything, science can provide some insights.

‘Yde girl’ was recovered in 1887 and reputedly well-preserved. Unfortunately, the standards of archaeology weren’t as rigorous as today and her body has deteriorated through poor methods of preservation ever since. C14 tests put her as living between 55-128 BC and further tests suggest that she had scoliosis which caused a slight spinal deformation. Based on swellings on her toes and spinal curvature, she would have walked with an awkward gait. Maybe these factors led to her being singled out for death?

The cause of her death was a woollen belt wrapped three times round her neck to asphyxiate followed by a thin point being pushed through her clavicle (collar bone) into the chest. Forensics indicates that the collar bone wound was post-mortem.

In 1992, Manchester University, England used a CT scan to provide enough data to make a forensic reconstruction of her face…



Another young girl was recovered with the braids in her hair as tidy as on her last day alive...




posted on Mar, 20 2009 @ 03:43 PM
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It's still creepy to look at those bodies, due to how well preserved many of them are.
Even the Egyptian mummies are less intact by comparison, some of them look like they are almost freshly dead, no wonder the police were called.



posted on Mar, 20 2009 @ 03:45 PM
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Google Video Link


[edit on 20-3-2009 by Kandinsky]

[edit on 20-3-2009 by Kandinsky]

[edit on 20-3-2009 by Kandinsky]



posted on Mar, 20 2009 @ 04:58 PM
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reply to post by Kandinsky
 


Nice thread
I found a website that gave an 18th Century account of bog bodies, thought you might find it interesting:

from the website: doncasterarcheology.co.uk
extract from the Stovin Manuscript.


I have the assent of that learned body, the Royal Society, for in September 1747, I sent the hand and sandal above mentioned to that learned body with the same account (or to the same purpose I have here given),and when they returned it, I was honoured with their thanks by letter, and their opinion was that "they must have laid there many hundred years ; for the sandals were worn in England about the conquest, yet they could not find they was of the make or shape of this above mentioned, but concluded it must be much ancienter than that period." I buried the remains of this lady in Amcots chapel yard, I showed the hand and sandal to my worthy friend Thomas Whichcot, of Harpswell, esq. knight of the shire for the county of Lincoln in parliament, who was pleased to put the sandal on before I sent them to the Royal Society.
At Thorne, in these moors, about ten years ago, as one William Biddy, of Thorne, was digging turf, he found the entire body of a man with his teeth firm in his head ; the hair of his head firm and fast on, and of a yellowish colour, either naturally so or dyed by the water of this moor. His skin like a piece of tanned leather. He took the body up entire, after having laid there some hundred years. N.B.-I had this account from the man himself.
I also think: proper to mention that the servants of Mr. George Healey, of Burringham, on the east side Trent, and near this Levil, was digging tip firewood in a large moor belonging to Burringham, and at the bottom of a fir tree root they found (as though laid together) a British spear, a British axe, and two short swords or dirks, all of brass, which Mr. Healey made a present off, and which I now have by me.


source:
doncasterarchaeology.co.uk...



posted on Mar, 21 2009 @ 01:45 AM
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Originally posted by MCoG1980
reply to post by Kandinsky
 


Nice thread
I found a website that gave an 18th Century account of bog bodies, thought you might find it interesting:

doncasterarchaeology.co.uk...


Thanks for the link, I like the dry way they approached the discovery of well preserved bodies...


'Mr. James Empson, of Gowle, was digging turf in this great Waste, and one of them cut a man's arm off by the shoulder, which he carried home to his master, who took the bone out and stuffed it, and made a, present of it to Dr. Johnson,"


Stubble, hair gel and nails all intact after 2000 years. These finds have caught my imagination since being a kid at school when they'd feature in the news. When I was younger, the extent of the horror visited on some of them wasn't appreciated at all. Sadly, the DNA has been destroyed over the years and made tracing haplogroups impossible in most cases. We have maps that indicate where such bodies have been found.




I'd be curious to see how the various populations link up. If the killings are sacrificial, we might expect shared mythologies based on the similar locations and MO of the cause of death.



Originally posted by Rune Spider
reply to post by Kandinsky
 




It's still creepy to look at those bodies, due to how well preserved many of them are. Even the Egyptian mummies are less intact by comparison, some of them look like they are almost freshly dead, no wonder the police were called.






posted on Jan, 24 2010 @ 03:23 PM
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A book has just been published about these 'bog bodies.'


Karin Sanders (now an academic at the University of California, Berkeley) was also a fan of Glob’s book. But hers is a decidedly post-modern account, one which seeks to show how the bog bodies took their place in our culture, out of theirs, 'estranged from us even as they mirror us’. She deftly teases out the paradoxes: born of neither land nor water but something in between, the bodies are an uncanny link between the pagan beliefs that prompted their deaths and our own supposedly rational world. And as Sanders shows, these muddy time travellers had the power to reflect our own prejudices.

In 1937, Himmler cited Tacitus’ hypothesis that the victims were 'cowards, shirkers, and sodomites [whose] deeds of shame should be buried out of man’s sight’. Their fate fitted Nazi ideology as 'urnings’ whose 'abnormal lives’ had been correctly 'terminated’. Yet in 1952, a Danish newspaper saw them as Aryan archetypes: 'The slightly Mongoloid imprint on the face need not originate from birth, but might well be caused by a violent injury to the head.’
Bodies in the Bog and the Archaeological Imagination by Karin Sanders: review

[edit on 24-1-2010 by Kandinsky]



posted on Jan, 24 2010 @ 03:41 PM
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Great thread buddy!


An inspired topic for discussion.

I always believed that these sacrifices were either to heal someone who was ill, a sort of "Take this life and heal this one" mentality, OR simply to ward off bad omens or luck before battles or harvests.

I have no evidence for this of course, but it makes sense to me.

Did you find any mention of goods left with the bodies, swords, axes, jewellery?

I think I've come across bog swords before, slung in as a sacrifice or offering to the god of war!

S+F dude, well done.



posted on Jan, 24 2010 @ 04:25 PM
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reply to post by kiwifoot
 
Cheers Kiwi, I'm glad you liked it
Did you notice the date it was posted?

I found the whole subject just fascinating. Images and graphic accounts going back to the Romans. The foundations of paganism and modern versions of the druids can all be traced back to these poor souls frozen in time. No other ancient bodies are as well preserved as the peat bodies.

Ironically, the thread tanked and submerged like the people in the peat bogs. C'est la vie



posted on Jan, 24 2010 @ 04:39 PM
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Originally posted by Kandinsky
reply to post by kiwifoot
 
Cheers Kiwi, I'm glad you liked it
Did you notice the date it was posted?

I found the whole subject just fascinating. Images and graphic accounts going back to the Romans. The foundations of paganism and modern versions of the druids can all be traced back to these poor souls frozen in time. No other ancient bodies are as well preserved as the peat bodies.

Ironically, the thread tanked and submerged like the people in the peat bogs. C'est la vie




Holy Crap! I didn't see the date! WTF!

I'll never understand ATS fully, how a thread like this can get a few replies, but "I've been molested by a demon in drag" can go on and on and receive 100 flags!


The photos are graphic and show remarkable preservation. It really brings to life these people and their stories (if members have half a brain to consider it!). I especially like the hat the person in the first image is wearing, I suppose it's leather, amazing.

The red hair of the young girl is a little saddening, she must have been terrified.

I wonder if anyone has analysed the teeth of the victims to determine where they originated from, would be good to know if they were local or sacrifices from farther afield maybe POWs!!

All the best K, Kiwifoot!



EDIT just to say that I guess I didn't see the thread the first time so I shouldn't be too judgemental!

[edit on 24-1-2010 by kiwifoot]



posted on Jan, 24 2010 @ 08:47 PM
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Great thread Kandinsky,

Sorry I missed it the first time around, watching the vids now. I don't think many people associate this type of bloodthirsty activity with ancient Britons. I can easily see how the Romans felt justified in their contempt of these "barbarians".



posted on May, 5 2010 @ 01:44 PM
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The latest issue of Archaeology: Bog Bodies Rediscovered should generate more interest in these fascinating victims of times long past.

The end of the article has an excellent summary...


We may never know definitively whether any individual was a priest or a criminal, honored or punished, executed or sacrificed. “But bog bodies are not just archaeological finds,” says University of Copenhagen scholar and bog body expert Niels Lynnerup. “They are extraordinarily intact human remains, and deserve to be treated as such.” The people on the next pages may appear gruesome, even horrifying. But they all have stories—some innocent and some macabre—written in their uncannily preserved remains.



posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 02:00 PM
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reply to post by Kandinsky
 


Absolutely fascinating, I remember reading about the bog bodies in a book my parents had in the 80's (might of been Nat Geo).

I'd forgotten just how gruesome they were actually.... Old Croghan Man was 6ft 6
well there goes the 'they were shorter back then' nonsense
I did love the fact that the shorter guy wore his hair tall


Is there anything ever found with the bodies in the was of offerings etc? or are other items found anywhere else in the peat bogs? I find these bog bodies really very interesting but they dont seem to know too much about them even though their state of preservation is so remarkable...

anyways s&f and ty for the link
Im off on a bog bodies tour with google earth now to have a look at the distribution, time lines etc



posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 02:22 PM
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reply to post by Versa
 
Thanks for your post.




Is there anything ever found with the bodies in the was of offerings etc? or are other items found anywhere else in the peat bogs? I find these bog bodies really very interesting but they dont seem to know too much about them even though their state of preservation is so remarkable...


They've discovered all sorts of stuff but it's not always easy to associate the objects with the bodies. Stinking kegs of bog butter and weapons have been recovered in large numbers. The world's oldest brain too.

York University link: Scientists trace violent death of Iron Age man



edit on 22-8-2011 by Kandinsky because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 02:33 PM
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reply to post by Kandinsky
 

i can,t help but point out that julius caesar wrote his history of the british people after travelling no more than seven miles inland ,



posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 02:49 PM
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reply to post by tom.farnhill
 
Bog bodies aren't confined to England or even particularly dated to Caesar's period in power. The quotation simply adds more context to the OP. I don't know how far he travelled into England and it's open to discussion how accurate the description is. There's also quite a lot of debate as to the accuracy of Tacitus and whether he portrayed the 'natives' as savages for political reasons.

Going back to Caesar, it isn't uncommon for modern leaders, or anyone else, to write or express opinions on countries they haven't even visited.



posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 02:56 PM
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Originally posted by Kandinsky
They've discovered all sorts of stuff but it's not always easy to associate the objects with the bodies. Stinking kegs of bog butter and weapons have been recovered in large numbers. The world's oldest brain too.


Im not sure which is worse the brain or the stinking kegs of bog butter, either way I don't think I'll be digging up and peat bogs any time soon!

Most of that (and I haven't read it all yet) seems more like mislaid items rather than offerings doesn't it? Swords for example would be broken more often than not if they were an offering wouldn't they? Im also pretty sure that hats don't make good offerings


The reason Im pondering about this is that if the bodies were offerings wouldn't we expect to see other items as offerings too?



posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 03:29 PM
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Most excellent thread. Sorry I missed it first time round.

I wonder if I have any bodies in the bog on my land? (Not yet!!)



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 05:31 AM
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reply to post by Kandinsky
 


Hiya me again


Ive been looking at a few sites about the bog bodies and something else has struck me. Are most of them naked (hats excepted)? There seems to be few items of clothing found on the bodies. This site has a few examples of clothing found but it seems strange to me that for the most part the bog bodies seem to be sans clothes


Not surprising maybe if they were practising a form of haruspex.... I was reading a book on ancient lenses last night and the fact that a freshly removed liver acts as a mirror for a few seconds after removal until it 'clouds over' (gross but there you go) and that given the sparsity of reflective material then this may of seemed somehow mystical to the ancients.

Not sure how much evidence there is for that

edit on 23/8/11 by Versa because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 06:15 AM
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reply to post by Versa
 
That's a good question. I hadn't noticed.

Given the number of possible scenarios whereby these people ended up in the bogs perhaps it isn't surprising they are mostly naked. By this I mean, some scenarios involved ritual (hallucinogens in stomach, fasting etc) and some involved torture and killing. Perhaps removing clothing of the victims/volunteers was inevitable as either a symbolic gesture (for the ritualistic) or a degrading gesture (murdered, tortured etc).

I touched on the reading of entrails in the OP and with one of the men being halved, it's not beyond imagining that they might have done this too.

Imagine a night in that world? We could fly around the Earth and when night came, the only light was from lamps and fires or the Moon. Underneath the darkness and silence of those skies people met their ends in the ways described. Can you imagine how the victim must have experienced the hours before painful death? Was there singing, drumming or chanting? All that bleak superstition, torture and human ignorance must have been quite a sight by firelight. They must have left their lives with gratitude for death.



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