Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bog Bodies

Author: Angela Murphy

Image by Sterlingy 2013 on Deviant Art
When someone thinks of mummies they picture the typical movie stereotype of a bandaged up corpse that usually can come back to life in order to finish what they started. Now while the resurrection part may be very much a myth, throughout history this was how mummies where buried, until bog bodies were discovered. Bog bodies is a term commonly used to classify the hundreds of human remains from northwestern Europe that date to the Iron Age (ca. 500 B.C.-A.D. 100). (Lobell, Samir) These bodies, unlike the process of mummification,  could be discovered preserved almost completely intact depending on their burial location. Their organs all still inside of their body, which is the opposite of how traditional mummies where buried. The process of bog bodies includes someone killed and then immediately put into a peat bog. These bog bodies are an incredible discovery, in which some bodies date back as far as being preserved as long as eight thousand years.
            "In 1979, the archaeologist Christian Fischer interpreted the bog bodies as offerings to the god or gods that may have felt aggrieved by the activities of mankind (digging for turf or bog iron ore) in the bog." (Randsborg 116) In several different findings from scientists all around the world, many claim to think that there was several different reasons based on the time period why these people where basically incased into a bog body. Some say as a punishment for a crime that the person made, and others go as far to claim that it was for sacrifice to please the gods. Clearly, as depicted in the words of Christian Fischer, he was one to believe that these bog bodies where a result to try to ease the gods anger. Others even say that it was out of the clear boredom and barbarianism of an ancient society, when speaking in terms of bog bodies predating back to the stone ages. As for finding out the real reasons, research is still continuing to find out more about the motives behind the actions of those who par-took in the process of a bog body.
            The only thing that anthropologists can go by when it comes to learning more information on bog bodies is the research they do on their findings. Their famous findings come mostly from bog bodies that where preserved astonishingly well for their age. One example is Tollund Man, a Danish bog that was found two thousand and three hundred years after he was supposedly sacrificed. "The man--or what was left of him--emerged from the Irish sod one winter day in 2003, his hair still styled the way he wore it during his last moments alive. The back was cropped short; the top, eight inches long, rose in a pompadour, stiffened with pine resin." (Lange 80) Despite many theories, once modern technology came around, researchers discovered that when they thought that these bog bodies had been tortured and beaten throughout their life, it was the toll that the bog took on their body after their death. The bog made the body seem as if it was mangled and constantly put under physical damage. "In Denmark, a team of forensic investigators including Niels Lynnerup of the University of Copenhagen has reexamined that country's bog bodies and found that some of the damage once interpreted as torture or mutilation was actually inflicted centuries after death." (Lange 81)
            Among one of the oldest bog bodies emerged when discovered in 1987 and took the leading role for attention in most anthropologists eyes. "Yde" -- pronounced "ee-duh" -- has grown to be one of the most familiar of the seven bog bodies in the display because of a facial reconstruction that presents the image of a young, blue-eyed girl with shoulder-length blond hair." (Karlovits) This two thousand year old bog body seemed to be able to make a strange undeniable connection with some researchers that where studying her. Studying these amazingly preserved bog bodies is crucial if the world wants to be more knowledgeable on our ancestors cultures. If these bog bodies where never discovered, quite a few things would be unanswered in our world. Our scientists discover and unearth new things every day, who knows what they might find tomorrow.

Works Cited: 
Karlovits, Bob. "Bogs Reveal Bigger Story." Pittsburg Tribune-Review (PA) (2005) Newsbank. Web. 12 October 2013.
Lange, Karen E. "Tales from the Bog." National Geographic 212.3 (2007): pg 80-93. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 October 2013.
Lobell, Jarrett A. Patel, Samir S. "Bog Bodies Rediscovered. (cover story)." Archaeology. 63. 3 (2010): p22-29. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 October 2013.
Randsborg, Klavs. "The Bog Bodies as Social Outcasts." Acta Archaeologica 81:1 (2010): pg116. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 October 2013.
Sterlingy. Bog Body Illustration. 2012-2013. 17 Oct. 2013

Links for Further Research:
PBS; Ancient bog bodies in the iron age
This site gives basic information on bog bodies, for some parts may seem confusing.

National Geographic; Bog Bodies
This site shows multiple pictures that can mentally give examples as to how bog bodies look like.

Live Science; Oldest 'bog body' found with skin still intact

This link goes to an article that talks about a recently found four thousand year old bog body that still has its skin intact.