Bog Bodies

Topics: Archaeology, Human sacrifice, Sacrifice Pages: 2 (734 words) Published: April 18, 2013
Bog bodies have been found in many locations in northwestern Europe: Ireland, England, Germany, and Denmark. Generally, these countries have poor preservation conditions, but the bogs are an exception to the rule. Most bodies found show severe trauma from a violent death. The scope of the article encompasses Europe during the Iron and Bronze periods. It is difficult, frequently impossible to distinguish between ritual behavior towards bodies after death and outright sacrificial killing. Why were the bodies interred in these locations? Were they brutal murders? Ruthless executions of criminals? Perhaps merciless sacrifices. From a modern prospective there is an immense difference between inanimate and human offerings, but this may not have been so in other periods. All these problems are made even more complex due to the text-free nature of the archaeological record at the time. Theories abound as scholars attempt to explain why these individuals ended up in the peat. However, none of the evidence is conclusive, so it can be used to support differing hypotheses. One thing to note before delving into the theories is that throwing bodies in bogs was not a normal burial practice for Iron Age Europeans. This indicates that these few individuals were either connected by who they were or what they did, or by what their deaths were supposed to accomplish. More common practices during the Iron Age included cremating deceased individuals, and interring the dead in mound tombs. Executions

As was previously stated, numerous bog bodies show evidence of hanging or strangulation, which seems to support this account. However, they were also put into bogs, so the reasons behind the different types of executions, as recorded by Tacitus, don’t exactly explain why they were both hung and interred in a bog. If a hanging were a way to create a public example, why would the body then be hidden immediately? Why not just leave it out for people to see? Tacitus also...
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