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Ancient Scots Mummified Their Dead

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Author Topic: Ancient Scots Mummified Their Dead  (Read 536 times)
Thann Lowery
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« on: September 16, 2007, 04:15:29 am »

Microscopic and chemical analysis also determined the bodies were subject to an acidic environment that enhanced preservation.

That finding, and the arrangement of the bones, suggests the dead individuals were first wrapped tightly and then immersed into a peat bog. The scientists believe the bodies were then removed and carefully buried under the roundhouses, where individuals resided.

Bodies preserved in peat bogs have been found throughout Britain. With oxygen blocked, the bodies basically ferment in what has been described as a "slow cooking process" that causes them to tan and then darken.

Arranged stones marked the graves, which surprisingly were located right inside the entrance to the house. This would be like homeowners today having small cemeteries in the entry halls of their homes.

"The floor above the burials was kept clear of debris from craft activities, cooking, etc. so it seems that the occupants of the house were aware of the presence of the bodies buried under the floor," Chamberlain said.

He believes that in Bronze Age Britain a transition occurred from "previous collective burial rites to a new burial rite in which individuals were placed under houses or within their own burial mounds."

University of Reading archaeologist Richard Bradley points out Cladh Hallan is important, since it preserves all elements of prehistoric life, including death. He said researchers in Britain usually encounter "fractured pieces of the past" but the site tells a "whole story" since it is a place "where people lived, and also where they buried their ancestors."

Historic Scotland, a government agency, funded the research.
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