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Ancient Scots Mummified Their Dead

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Thann Lowery
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« on: September 16, 2007, 04:06:52 am »

Ancient Scots Mummified Their Dead

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News



Sept. 14, 2007 The ancient Egyptians were not the only ones to mummify their dead, according to a study in this month's Antiquity Journal that claims prehistoric Scottish people created mummies too.

The researchers do not think the Egyptians influenced the Scots, but that mummification arose independently in the two regions.

Initial evidence for Scottish mummies was announced in 2005, when archaeologists unearthed three preserved bodies an adult female, an adult male and an infant buried underneath two Bronze Age roundhouses in South Uist, Hebrides, at a site called Cladh Hallan. The bodies date to between 1300 and 1500 B.C.

"Distinctive microscopic and chemical changes in the bones showed that the bodies had not been placed in the ground immediately after death, but had been subject to conditions that may have enhanced their preservation," said Andrew Chamberlain, who worked on both the 2005 and the more recent investigations.

Chamberlain, a University of Sheffield archaeologist, told Discovery News that the new evidence relates to the female mummy's knee.

Analysis of her remains, led by researcher Christie Cox, shows her knee was broken off prior to burial but long after her death. The scientists found the knee buried at another part of the site.

The knee "adds to the evidence for manipulation of the body parts long after death," Chamberlain said, adding that the bones were dry before they were snapped apart.

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2007/09/14/mummifiedscots_arc.html?category=archaeology
« Last Edit: September 16, 2007, 04:27:16 am by Thann Lowery » Report Spam   Logged

Thann Lowery
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2007, 04:09:03 am »



The University of Sheffield


At Their Doorsteps
In 2005, scientists unearthed three preserved bodies underneath two Bronze Age roundhouses in South Uist, Hebrides, Scotland. The bodies date to between 1300 and 1500 B.C. Arranged stones marked the graves, which surprisingly were located right inside the entrances to the homes.
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Thann Lowery
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2007, 04:12:30 am »



Antiquity

Fermented Bone
The brittle bones of a buried female's tibia, showing a fracture. Analysis of this and other remains found at Scotland's Cladh Hallan,  determined the bodies were subject to an acidic environment in a peat bog that fermented them and enhanced preservation. Study of this particular bone revealed the woman's knee was broken prior to burial, but long after her death.
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Thann Lowery
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« Reply #3 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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