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Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween

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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2009, 02:03:03 am »

Why did you begin studying Folklore, and can you describe your current research interests? Since an early age, I've been drawn to the supernatural and paranormal phenomena. That interest, combined with an interest in mythology and storytelling, led me to the academic discipline of folklore. When introduced to the academic subject matter, I saw that it encompassed so much more than what I had expected and I quickly became immersed. I find the study of culture fascinating and I like learning about different kinds of people and how they express themselves.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2009, 02:03:08 am »

My current research for my Ph.D. deals with various aspects of Neo-Pagan culture, and my dissertation has the working title "Neo-Paganism in Ireland: Worldview and Ritual Practices." My work examines many different aspects of contemporary Pagan culture from an ethnographic perspective; some of the main areas I'm focusing on are: belief-systems, magical worldview, environmental activism, rites of passage, festival celebrations, ritual dress, Neo-Pagan art, and the use of the Irish language and Irish and Celtic mythology in ritual. This is a relatively new research field and since little ethnographic work has been done in this area, I feel that Irish Paganism is a valuable movement to document.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2009, 02:03:24 am »

My other research interests include the New Age and New Religious Movements (NRMs) more generally. I have a strong interest in folk magic, charms, and folk medicine. I'm also fascinated by subcultures, alternative movements, and the outlook of these groups and the relationship they have with mainstream society (the Gothic movement for example). I find it interesting to analyze the identity-construction process of different groups of people, so that's fairly open-ended in terms of future research possibilities!

http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/butler.html
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2009, 02:03:35 am »

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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2009, 02:06:54 am »

Celtic Sacrifice    


Volume 55 Number 1, January/February 2002
by Jeremiah R. Dandoy, Page Selinsky, and Mary M. Voigt

Grim deposits of butchered bones attest ritual slaughter by Galatians at Gordion.

Following his death, Alexander's empire broke up into smaller, competing states whose rulers sometimes hired mercenaries to supplement their own armies. In 278 B.C., King Nicomedes I of Bithynia welcomed as allies 20,000 European Celts, veterans who had successfully invaded Macedonia two years earlier. These warriors, who called themselves the Galatai, marched into northwestern Anatolia with 2,000 baggage wagons and 10,000 noncombatants: provisioners and merchants as well as wives and children. Ancient texts tell us that some of these immigrants settled at Gordion, the old Phrygian capital of King Midas, about 60 miles southwest of modern Ankara. Exactly when Galatians took over the town is unknown, but archaeological evidence suggests they were there soon after 270 B.C., the time when documentary sources tell us that Celts began raiding in central Anatolia.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2009, 02:07:18 am »

Earlier excavations at Gordion recovered coins of the sort used to pay Celtic mercenaries, a few artifacts with parallels in Celtic Europe (a helmet flap, sheep shears, and pin), and a sherd inscribed with a clearly Celtic name, Kant
  • uix. Nevertheless, the archaeological evidence for a large Galatian presence at the site was not overwhelming until our discovery of grisly evidence of rituals involving humans. The broken-necked bodies and decapitated heads at Gordion cannot be attributed to any local Anatolian group, but are characteristic of European Celts.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2009, 02:11:29 am »

Between 1950 and 1973, Rodney S. Young and G. Roger Edwards, archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania Museum, excavated much of the eastern part of Gordion's citadel mound. Young, who was mostly interested in a burned level that he identified with King Midas (see "Celebrating Midas," July/August 2001), was unenthusiastic about later occupation levels. In 1964, influenced by the prevailing views of historians, he characterized the Galatian settlement as follows: "The buildings of [these] levels are mostly the light structures of a farming village with their outbuildings and byres, usually in poor preservation." By 1990, the picture had changed. In reassessing what was known of Galatian Gordion, Keith DeVries--Young's successor as director of the Gordion Project--pointed out that some houses contained evidence of considerable wealth, including gold coins and stone sculptures. Moreover, some of these people could at least read Greek, the language used to inscribe some of their possessions, and favored items made in Greek style. Roman sources, DeVries noted, referred to Celts in Anatolia as "Gallograeci" because of their adoption of Greek ways. DeVries' interpretation is more in line with that of Livy, who described Galatian Gordion at the beginning of the second century in his History of Rome as an emporium, or trading center, and an oppidum, or fortified settlement.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2009, 02:11:44 am »

The University Museum began new excavations at Gordion in the late 1980s. Investigation of the northwestern part of the citadel mound, carried out in cooperation with the Royal Ontario Museum, was the key to a new understanding of the Hellenistic period. First of all, we now know that the Galatian occupation lasted at least 100 years and was marked by two destructions or abandonments followed by a brief third occupation. Second, our soundings show that the entire top of the citadel mound was occupied in the third and second centuries B.C., confirming Livy's description of the place as a substantial town. Third, the arrival of the Celts at Gordion is marked by a change in the use of space within the settlement as well as in architectural forms and materials: above ordinary mud-brick houses, the Galatians constructed a monumental public building of cut-stone blocks that was surounded by a massive stone wall.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2009, 02:11:58 am »

Adjacent to the building and within the stone wall, we found a potter's house and workshop dating to the site's initial Galatian settlement. Inside this building, constructed of wattle and daub on a stone foundation, were clay loom weights, paint pots, storage jars, and a stone mortar, all still in place. On a hard-packed, well-trodden area between the workshop and the monumental building we found a toppled stone sculpture, a schematic human with faces on two opposing sides. The Gordion head is crudely carved, but its form replicates more sophisticated double-faced or "Janus" figures found at Celtic sites in Europe. The meaning of the Janus figures is not known, but the Gordion faces have the T-shaped brow and nose common on such heads. A silver coin found near it dates to the third century B.C. The construction of a monumental stone building within the earliest Galatian town indicates that Gordion's new Celtic rulers were ambitious, and able to mobilize a significant labor force. We do not know the cause or the date of abandonment of this first settlement (live by the sword?), but during the late third or early second century Galatian Gordion was rebuilt.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2009, 02:12:15 am »

In the second settlement, new houses were erected on the old foundations. The monumental building was still impressive, but the nearby wall had been dismantled. A huge trench left when its stone blocks were removed was filled with earth and refuse. DeVries identified this second settlement as the one destroyed by a Roman army led by Consul Manlius Vulso in 189 B.C., as recounted by Livy. During the destruction, the large stone building burned fiercely, bringing down its tiled roof. The nearby, rebuilt workshop was thoroughly ransacked. Pots, clay figurines, and even figurine molds were smashed into small pieces and scattered, presumably by soldiers looking for valuables. The Romans' success perhaps accounts for the scarcity of metal finds in this building. Preserved in a small pit within the structure were a few more valuable items, including a small bone lion with a flat back that was probably used as an inlay.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #25 on: October 30, 2009, 02:12:30 am »

These finds confirm and strengthen the picture of Galatian Gordion suggested by DeVries. What is striking is the juxtaposition of Greek and Celtic customs illustrated by new evidence for Galatian religious practices. On the mound, the workshop next to the monumental building produced figurines totally Greek in style that were presumably used in household ritual; figures of Greek deities such as Nike and Kybele were also found by Rodney Young. But off the mound we found remains left by very different rituals--chilling evidence of strangulation, decapitation, and bizarre arrangements of human and animal bones. Such practices are well known from Celtic sites in Europe and are now documented for Anatolian Celts as well.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2009, 02:12:49 am »

In 1993, we began excavating in two parts of Gordion's lower town. South of the citadel mound, this part of the site had been heavily fortified beginning in the eighth century B.C. By the third century, the houses that had covered it had been abandoned, but heavy mud-brick walls with stone foundations were still standing. Within our trenches in area A, in the eastern part of the lower town, we found five bodies strewn across an outside ground surface that was dotted with small pits and trash, including rare sherds dated to the third century B.C. The bodies had been left exposed, and eventually were covered by a thin layer of silt eroded from the fortification walls.
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« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2009, 02:13:07 am »

We found the first body only inches below the surface. There was no evidence of damage to the skull or neck of this 20-35-year-old male, who lay sprawled face down. A second male, 30 to 45 years old, lay on his right side, his head twisted back and away from his torso, and his spinal column clearly broken as a result of a neck injury that presumably caused his death. To the north of the two men, a 15-20-year-old female, who also had a broken neck, lay on her right side. A fourth individual, a woman over 50, shows no signs of violence, but the position of her body suggests that she was tossed (rather than carefully laid) in a convenient pit.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2009, 02:13:27 am »

We do not know the precise date of area A's grimmest deposit, the remains of four people thrown into a deep pit. Even if this burial group were later, their treatment is undoubtedly linked to ritual practices that began in third-century Gordion and would represent continuity of Celtic traditions after the town became part of the Roman province of Galatia. The uppermost body was that of a 30-45-year-old female who had been struck by two blows, which fractured her skull. Perhaps these blows did not cause her death, since she was also strangled, as a catastrophic angle in mid-neck attests. Beneath this body was that of a younger woman, aged 18-23 years. She shows no skeletal damage, but two heavy grinding stones weighing down her upper body do not suggest a peaceful interment. Resting to the west of the two women were the bones of a child aged 2-4, its preserved leg detached and reversed so that the knee rests where the hip should be. Because the entire body was disturbed and only partly present, we initially thought that much of the disturbance of small, light bones could be attributed to rodent activities. This relatively rosy picture disappeared when we found that the jaw, which appeared to belong to the cranium of the 2-4 year old, actually came from a 4-8-year-old child. Two neck vertebrae and a single foot bone also appear to be from this older child. It seems most likely that the children had died before the two women and that their bodies had decomposed, perhaps lying on the surface. We do not know why they were later deposited with the women.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2009, 02:13:40 am »

It is clear that several of the people whose remains we found in area A died violently, with strangulation the most common cause of death, whether by hanging or garotting. All of these people were presumably "sacrificed," but we cannot determine the exact circumstances. One possibility is that they were killed as part of Celtic divination rituals. Greco-Roman sources report that the Celtic religious leaders, or Druids, were prophets who killed humans in order to discern the future as revealed by the dying victims' movements. The Gordion victims could have been war captives--a category of people used in divination, but sometimes simply slaughtered.
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