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3000 year old Iron Age Bog body found in Ireland

By damian, Thursday, 13th December 2012 | 0 comments
Filed under: Museums, Did you know, Free Stuff.

IRON-AGE Bog Body recovered from a bog in Co Laois Ireland last week is likely to be that of a young man killed according to the succession rites of kingship.


The bog body could be up to 3,000 years old. Initially, it was thought that the body was wrapped in a bag, with only the lower legs protruding. However, further examination showed that what had appeared to be a bag was actually the corpse’s torso. Although the head suffered some damage at the time of its discovery, this will still be the most complete body recovered from an Irish bog.

Some cuts on the body suggest a ritual killing, religious beliefs at the time tied kingship with the land:
Irish kings in the ancient period were replaced after a number of years. The old king would be sacrificed and a new king chosen. It ties in with their religious beliefs surrounding the solar deity (male) and the deity of the land (female). The king ties in with the solar cycle – the waxing and waning of the sun.

The idea was that the king was married to the sovereignty, or the land. The goddess would become old and withered and she would need a new young consort to return her to youth and beauty. So the old kind would be killed and a new one would take his place.

All of the other bog bodies were found on significant boundaries. The idea is that because the goddess is the land, by inserting bodies and other items relating to their inauguration as king along the boundaries, it gives form to the goddess. More detailed examination of the body could reveal other clues about the man’s lifestyle and status. His last meal may have been preserved in his stomach. If the hands have been well preserved, they could show whether he engaged in manual labour or not. If not, it would suggest he came from the upper levels of society. Further investigations will determine if any other injuries were inflicted on the bog body. The preservation of the man’s nipples is vitally important, as on previous bog bodies such as Oldcroghan Man they had been cut to indicate this person was a king.

The kissing or suckling of a king’s nipples was a gesture of submission, so by cutting the nipples, the king was being decommissioned.


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