Archaeology – It’s the Bog Bodies!

I LOVE archaeology and I LOVE mummies even more. There, I said it. Every time I talk about mummies (and I mean I could go on and on about the topic), my friends and especially my mom, would give me a look of distaste. Like, “Ew”, they would say. “How can you like dead people?” I find it’s quite fascinating because you can actually learn SO MUCH from a mummy! If preserved really well, you can tell what their last meal was, if they had any illnesses and all that good stuff. My imagination runs wild once I read about a mummy or see one in the museum – the coolest thing ever was the Mummy Vault at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. I was an intern there a couple of years ago and the internship coordinator will always plan little trips around the museum every weekend for us interns to see collections that a normal visitor will not be able to see. Pretty cool stuff huh?

As you can imagine because these are rare collections hidden away in vaults, we were NOT allowed to take photographs. So I guess I’ll leave that to your creative imagination! Or you could always read Dan Brown’s novel, The Lost Symbol and watch the film when it comes out!!

Ever since I was a kid, and especially after watching Indiana Jones, I wanted to become an archaeologist. Haha! The mystery behind every excavation awaits us to unfold as we dig our way through the artifacts and soon, we discover the history, culture, and their story. It seems so exciting and fascinating, so excited I was that I decided to join an excavation as you can see from one of my previous posts. I went to a tiny, tiny island called Statia as locals call it – it’s known as St. Eustatius on the maps. I soon realized that although I love archaeology, I did not like the digging part. Perhaps it was the arduous task of brushing away the dirt slowly so as not to damage any artifacts that may be under there or perhaps it was the dirt itself? Or maybe, it was that creepy GIANT CENTIPEDE??! (Don’t ask – I’m still trying to forget about that scary encounter.) I still love studying artifacts and learning about history but I guess I’m not the one to retrieve it (aka, the hard work part).

Have you ever seen a bog body before? I haven’t seen one in real life but I’ve seen tons and tons of photos of them. One of the most famous bog bodies to be discovered is the Tollund Man.

The Tollund Man (National Geographic)

See that rope around his neck? Looks like he was hanged before being cast away into a bog 2,300 years ago, archaeologists believe he may have been a sacrifice! Yikes! Bog bodies are mummies but preserved an a different way as you can tell by the photograph above. According to the National Geographic article, archaeologists said, “……Spotted in the industrial-size sieve of a peat processing plant, he was naked, his head wrenched sharply to the left, his legs and lower arms missing, ripped away by the machine that had dug him from a bog in the townland of Clonycavan. His head and trunk carried marks of deliberate violence, inflicted before he was cast into the mire: His nose had been broken, his skull shattered, his abdomen sliced open. While he lay in the bog, the weight of sodden sphagnum moss had flattened his crushed head, and the dark waters had tanned his skin to leather and dyed his hair orange-red.”

Eek, violent indeed! This is when my imagination kicks in and spins out of control!

I think I’ll leave it at that.

– Adventurous moi, M


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