Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ever Wonder? Bog Bodies

A bog body is a human corpse that has remained preserved for hundreds, sometimes thousand of years in the bogs (wetland) of Northern Europe, Great Britain and Ireland. The difference between finding a ordinary human cadaver vs. a bog body is the quality of skin and organ preservation that is in tact, due to the wetlands ability to conserve human flesh in such a unique manner. The moist atmospheric conditions of the areas where bog bodies have been found, show that the acidity of the water and the consistent dampness and coolness of the temperature help to mummify the body. The bog body receives very little oxygen, and the skin of the body changes to appear tanned. The skeletal preservation, on the other hand, seems to suffer from a archaeological standpoint, as the acid in the peat dissolves the calcium phosphate of bone. It is not however impossible for forensics to determine the marking that often led the individual to death, as often forensic pathologists have found savage broken bones, contusions and visual markings of severe torture on the bog bodies.

Grauballe Man, found in Denmark, dated to 290 B.C.

For an archaeologist and a historian, these remains provide a great depth of understanding into the lifestyle, class, appearance, diet and fashion associated with these individuals that lived during the Iron Age (around 12th century B.C.). Fragments of last meals have been discovered in the stomach cavity, and can be analysed alongside teeth to determine the age of the individual, and what the person ate throughout their lifetime. Radiocarbon dating can be used to determine the age of burial, age at death and many other candid details. At this time close to a thousand bodies have been found within these regions and combined with modern science, have been able to reveal individual detailing such has facial quality and hairstyling, alongside the more habitual behaviours of the civilization as a whole.

The Tollund Man, found with rope around his neck in Denmark, dated to 4th century B.C.

Many of these bodies have been located around areas that would have marked tribal borderlines during the times in which these individuals would have lived. Theory has been evoked that many of these individuals could have been sacrificial sacraments made to the gods by the Kings of these tribes, to prescribe him and his people triumph in the harvest of the comings seasons, victory at battle and to protection of their lands.
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