Swamps have been a traditional resting place for northern Europeans for nearly 7,000 years.

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists analyzed more than 1,000 body remains recovered from swamps at 226 locations in Europe.

Scientists have shown that people were buried in swamps for about 7,000 years: the last such burials date back to the New Age. Such burials are found almost exclusively in Northern Europe and Great Britain.

An international team of archaeologists has analyzed more than 1,000 ancient human remains found in 226 European wetlands.

Scientists have discovered that these “bog bodies” were part of a millennia-old tradition. People were buried in swamps from the prehistoric period to the early modern period.

Several bog bodies are known for being extremely well preserved, such as Lindow Man from the United Kingdom, Tollund Man from Denmark, and Yde Girl from the Netherlands.

These bodies are a snapshot of life in the distant past, and researchers can reconstruct details such as their last meal and even the cause of death – most of them were killed and are usually interpreted as human sacrifices.

However, these well-preserved specimens are only a small part of what has been found.

“Literally thousands of people met their end in the swamps, only to be found centuries later while mining peat,” said Dr. Roy van Beek of Wageningen University.

Bog bodies

Swamps have been a traditional resting place for northern Europeans for nearly 7000 years 2
Swamp mummy of a young woman found in 1936 in Rabivere, Estonia

The bog bodies studied in this study can be divided into three main categories: “bog mummies” – famous bodies with preserved skin, soft tissues and hair; “swamp skeletons”, whole bodies of which only bones have survived; and partial remains of swamp mummies or skeletons.

The different types of bodies are mostly the result of different conservation conditions: some swamps are better suited for preserving human tissue, while others are better at preserving bones.

“The new study shows that the focus of past archaeological research on a small group of impressive swamp mummies has skewed our views,” Dr. van Beek said. “All three categories provide valuable information, and when combined, a completely new picture emerges.”

The study of all three types of bog bodies shows that they are part of a thousand-year-old, deeply rooted tradition.

This phenomenon began in southern Scandinavia during the Neolithic Age, around 5000 BC, and gradually spread through Northern Europe.

The youngest finds, known from Ireland, Great Britain and Germany, show that the tradition continued into the Middle Ages and the early modern period.

The new study also shows that many of the finds are evidence of violent deaths. This violence is often interpreted as ritual sacrifices, executed criminals, or victims of assault.

But the analysis of written sources of the last centuries also testifies to a significant number of deaths from accidents in the swamps, as well as suicides.

“This shows that we should not look for a single explanation for all the findings,” said Dr. van Beek, “accidental deaths and suicides could have been common in earlier periods.

Overall, this is an exciting new film that is one of centuries, diverse and complex phenomena and tells many stories about such very human themes as violence, religion and tragic accident.


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