Bodies from the Bog: what science has told us about the bog people

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 19:30

Booking: No booking required.

A lecture by Jody Joy, Curator, British & European Iron Age Collections, British Museum.

Bog bodies are human remains discovered from a bog. The cold, acidic conditions of a bog, as well as chemicals released by decaying bog matter, act to preserve human tissue, skin and hair, meaning that sometimes the facial features of people who died thousands of years ago can survive. Bog bodies have been recovered across lowland north-west Europe, specifically Britain, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands and north-west Germany. Around 2,000 bog bodies are known. Some are 6,000 years old, others only a few hundred years old. The most famous bog bodies, and often the most well-preserved, date to the Iron Age period. Their unique preservation means that often it is possible to determine how these people died. Many show signs of a violent death and there has been much discussion as to whether they were victims of sacrifice. As they are so-well preserved, using special scientific techniques, it is also possible to reconstruct details of their lives, such as their last meal or what they looked like.

A lecture in the Salisbury Museum Archaeology Lectures (SMAL) series. SMAL lectures are held on the second Tuesday of each month from September to April.