Posted by: mdmusingsie | July 4, 2013

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to….Leather?

It is said that we came from dust/ash and when our time is up to dust/ash we shall return. That is, unless you happen to die in a bog in Ireland (or a few other places in Europe).  Your soul may depart and the blood stop flowing through your veins, but the rest of your body may be preserved for millennia.

The National Museum of Archaeology has a number of bog men specimens on display, or what’s left of them anyway.  Several were severed by modern machinery digging through the bog and one was decapitated upon discovery with the corresponding head nowhere to be found.

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Now I lay me down to sleep, millennia my body to keep – Gallagh bog man

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The headless horseless bog man called Oldcroghan

The ones with heads still retain their hair, from mustache and goatee to an Imelda May-like roll atop the head. On another you can still see the fingernails on the hands (no they didn’t grow after death into talon-like appendages). What skin remains has a leather-like appearance, stained a dark brown by the peat. They’ve been carbon-dated to somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 BC – 200 BC.  Not only can they date them, they can tell what the victim had as their last meal from examining the contents of the stomach.

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Clonycavan bog man with the Imelda May-like hairdoo

The exhibition claims they believe these men were ritual sacrifices, but I don’t personally believe that.  No one really knows for sure. They could have been killed as part of some clan warfare, a street skirmish, or other innocuous event.

From cemeteries to mummified bog bodies – it’s been a strange journey of late.  Stories more suited to Halloween than this July 4th, United States Independence Day.  Whilst Galway held a grand American 4th celebration as part of the Volvo Ocean race last year, Dublin held little trace of the annual US holiday.  While I can’t say I miss the weeks of annoying fireworks every night, I would still like to wish family, friends, and faithful readers in America (and abroad) a very happy 4th of July!

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Happy 4th of July

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