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ANCIENT HUMAN REMAINS Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Inference: What Can We Learn? Demographic structure of population Height, body size, relatedness Everyday.

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Presentation on theme: "ANCIENT HUMAN REMAINS Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Inference: What Can We Learn? Demographic structure of population Height, body size, relatedness Everyday."— Presentation transcript:


2 Inference: What Can We Learn? Demographic structure of population Height, body size, relatedness Everyday life Subsistence Disease and health Stress (physical, dietary) Beliefs Status Trade and migration

3 DETERMINING GENDER In general, the muscles in a man are stronger and more developed than in a woman. Bones of men are larger and more robust than bones of women. Some bones display specific features which can be used to help determination of the sex of the skeleton. The best indicators are the: – Skull – Pelvis – Head of the Femur

4 Sex Estimation – Adult Usually related to size in adult long bones Male bones: usually larger, longer in a single population – be cautious if different populations are involved Maximum diameter of head of humerus and head of femur may be used (Bass). Much more difficult to estimate sex in children’s skeletons. Sex Estimation: Face 1. Supraorbital (Brow) ridges: more prominent in males 2. Superior orbital margin: sharper in females 3. Palate: larger in males 4. Teeth: larger in males (Bass) 5. Mastoid process: more prominent and rugged in males. 6. Orbit (Eye socket): Rounder in females, more rectangular in males 7. Chin: more pronounced in males and larger jaws.

5 Pelvis Women give birth. For this reason, the pelvis of a woman is larger than the pelvis of a man. The pelvis of a woman is wide and circular whereas the pelvis of a man is narrow and heart‐shaped. Two angles, the sub‐pubic angle and the sciatic notch, cause the differences in the shape of the pelvis. In women, the sub‐pubic angle and sciatic notch are wide. In men, the sub‐pubic angle and sciatic notch

6 DETERMINING AGE Bone growth stops at about 20 yrs. of age in humans. Adult bone continuously adapts to prevailing stresses by appropriate deposition and resorption. Deposition and resorption are under hormonal control ‐

7 Skeletal Age Skeletal age is the estimated age at which a person died. Skeletal age can be determined by looking at the following: – sutures of the skull – teeth – ribs – vertebrae – growth areas of the long bones: epiphyses

8 X‐Rays Are Used to Date Skulls This is the side view of the dentition of a six year old boy. There is still some variation from person to person in the order in which the teeth erupt.

9 INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS Bone disease (Paget's disease, tumors) Previous injury to bone (fracture callus, prosthesis, metallic fragments). Comparison of pattern of bone. Pattern of skull's frontal air sinuses. Outline is unique and comparisons with clinical X‐rays are useful

10 HEIGHT An intact corpse can be measured, but a disarticulated or incomplete skeleton has to be pieced together. One rule of thumb is that height is about five times the length of the humerus, but there are formulas for height based on other major bones as well (spine, tibia, and femur). Estimates for the femur, tibia, humerus, radius, ulna, calcaneus and talus can be used to generate a composite height estimate that is more accurate.

11 Stress, Disease, and Trauma Paleopathology is the study of medical disorders and injury in human skeletal remains. The health status of past populations can be investigated by recording the nature trauma that affects the skeleton. Such diseases and injuries include bone fractures, arthritis, and periodontal diseases. Nutritional problems may be reflected in poorly developed bones and a low average height for the population. Cause of death can only be determined in a small percentage of burials, but violence is not infrequently reflected in the human skeleton. – Stress during one's lifetime is also revealed in the skeleton. Malnourishment in childhood causes the disruption of bone growth. Tooth enamel also reflects childhood stress and malnourishment in an irregular series of lines. Arthritis results in an accumulation of bone tissue around an afflicted area. Various infectious diseases may result in bone loss and pitting or the deformation of the skull and other bone surfaces

12 What are bog bodies? Over the past centuries, remains of many hundreds of people -- men, women, and children--have come to light during peat cutting activities in northwestern Europe, especially in Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, northern Germany, and Denmark. These are the "bog bodies." The individual bog bodies show a great degree of variation in their state of preservation, from skeletons, to well-preserved complete bodies, to isolated heads and limbs. They range in date from 8000 B.C. to the early medieval period. Most date from the centuries around the beginning of our era. We do not know exactly how many bog bodies have been found- -many have disappeared since their discovery.


14 Many people find it hard to imagine that the dark brown bog bodies were once lightly colored human beings of flesh and blood who lived in timber houses, brought up children, looked after their cattle, grew crops, made clothes, prepared meals, and manufactured tools. Facial reconstructions and remains of their hair and clothing give us an idea of how they looked during life. No one knows how these people ended up in the bogs, but it seems that the bodies are not the remains of unlucky people who fell in after losing their way. According to classical authors, the Roman Iron Age people of northern Europe offered human sacrifices to celebrate military victories, and to recover from illness, and executed people as punishment for crimes or perceived social imperfections such as homosexuality. Many of those found in the bogs died violent deaths. Notes from:



17 The Body The man was naked. He had red-brown hair and stubble on his chin. His skin was stained dark by the bog water. His hands were smooth and his fingerprints were very clear. His face showed pain and terror.

18 The Police Report They examined the body’s hands and feet. They found that the footprints and fingerprints were clearer than their own. They couldn’t match the fingerprints to any in their records.


20 The Autopsy The throat had been cut from ear to ear. The skull was fractured. There was food in the stomach. There were 63 kinds of grain and seeds, but no meat of fresh fruit or vegetables. There were signs of arthritis, so the man was probably more than 30 years of age. There were 21 teeth – the others had rotted away.

21 1. Head reconstructed from skull measurements, revealing bulging brow, deep-set eyes 2. Crowns of molar teeth shorn off by impact of blows to skull 3. Reddish beard roughly cut before death 4. Fox-fur arm band 5. Closing of skull sutures reveals victim's age 6. Two adjoining scalp lacerations indicate use of heavy weapon - probably an axe - to deliver blows from above and behind 7. Smooth hands, manicured fingernails 8. Pollen analysis shows Lindow Man was dropped face first into water a metre deep - suggesting a symbolic drowning 9. Blood group 'O' identifies victim as a Celt 10. Fracture at base of skull caused by blunt instrument 11. Animal sinew garotte with triple knots 12. Slight deformations in spine indicate mild arthritis 13. Stomach contents reveal victim's last meal to be a burnt bannock or griddle cake 14. Lower body sheared off during a previous peat extraction 15. Leg severed during peat-cutting reveals onset of mild osteo- arthritis



24 The results of the radiocarbon dating? This is a scientific test that tells us how long ago living things died. Parts of the body were tested in the National Museum. The tests showed that the man had died between 210 and 410 AD – between 1500 and 1700 years ago! The initial dates were contaminated by the peat leading to an earlier Iron Age date More recent dating showed between 20AD-90AD

25 Pathology –Health and Disease The Paradox: “Healthy” looking skeletons: May have died of serious, acute infections “Unhealthy” looking skeletons: May have been strong enough to survive multiple insults to health We’re looking at DEAD populations – not living ones Disease we can see in bone? Long-standing, chronic conditions Include infection, dietary deficiency, degenerative PROBLEMS OF PATHOLOGY

26 FINDINGS The team was able to establish that Lindow Man was around 25 when he died. However, the exact period of his death was harder to pinpoint. Radio carbon dating produced conflicting results. Analysis of certain material suggested the body was late Iron Age whereas others pointed to the post Roman period. However, a probable date of the late Iron Age/early Roman period was arrived at through analysis of pollen samples found in the stomach contents. Read more at Suite101: Lindow Man: The Life and Death of a Bog Body http://archaeological-burial- Man: The Life and Death of a Bog Bodyhttp://archaeological-burial- Lindow man’s body was incomplete with his lower abdomen and one leg missing. Archaeologists were able to easily establish his sex as male from the fact that he had a beard and moustache. This is unique amongst male bog bodies. He was a well built individual. By looking at the length of his upper arm bone, his height was established as between 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches, making him taller than most men of his time. His weight was calculated as being 60-65 pounds or nearly 10 stone. Read more at Suite101: Lindow Man: The Life and Death of a Bog Body http://archaeological-burial- Man: The Life and Death of a Bog Bodyhttp://archaeological-burial-

27 Despite showing signs of slight osteoarthritis, Lindow Man was in good health for the period he lived in. His teeth, although stripped of enamel by the acid environment of the peat were healthy with no cavities. He was suffering from a severe case of whip worm and maw worm but this would probably have passed unnoticed.. Electron microscopy revealed that his hair follicles were stepped; leading archaeologists to conclude that his hair was trimmed not long before his death with scissors or shears. These were not common items at the time, and this detail coupled with his well manicured nails and smooth hands led to speculation that Lindow Man had been a high ranking member of society. Nothing else could be found to indicate high rank as the body was naked except for a fox fur armband. However, the skin was found to have a high copper content, suggesting that Lindow Man’s body had been painted prior to death.

28 ELECTRON SPIN RESONANCE Lindow Man’s stomach had not decayed, allowing for the analysis of his partly digested stomach contents. By examining them under a microscope, it was discovered that his final meal was little more than a snack composed of chaff and bran. Electron spin resonance was used to establish the maximum cooking temperature of the meal, how long it was cooked for and the method used. It seemed that Lindow man had eaten a type of griddle cake, cooked on a flat surface at 200 degrees centigrade for about half an hour. During this process, it had burnt. The griddle cake was not all that was found in the stomach. From traces of pollen present, it seemed Lindow Man had also consumed a concoction made from mistletoe. Read more at Suite101: Lindow Man: The Life and Death of a Bog Body http://archaeological-burial- Man: The Life and Death of a Bog Body http://archaeological-burial-

29 CONCLUSIONS ON THE MANNER OF DEATH Lindow Man’s end was violent. He was initially hit on the head twice. One blow was hard enough to drive a splinter of bone into the brain which would have rendered him unconscious if not killed him outright. One of his ribs was broken, suggesting he may have been kneed in the back. A 1.5 mm thick thong of animal sinew was found around his neck. This is assumed to be a garrotte used to strangle him as two of his neck vertebrae were broken. Finally, there was a gash on the side of his neck that would have severed the jugular. Probably post mortem, it is assumed this was a deliberate wound. The body was then dropped face down into a bog pool. Read more at Suite101: Lindow Man: The Life and Death of a Bog Body http://archaeological-burial- Man: The Life and Death of a Bog Bodyhttp://archaeological-burial-

30 POSSIBLE THEORIES The complex method of killing Lindow Man makes a straightforward murder unlikely. Some have argued that his death may have been an execution, with his simple last meal being appropriate to a criminal. However, the discovery of mistletoe, a sacred plant in the stomach contents, taken with the body’s pampered appearance and the three fold nature of his death has led to the theory that Lindow Man was in fact a sacrificial victim. Mistletoe is a narcotic with calming effects and so possibly could have been used to sedate him before the ritual began. The blow to the head, followed by garrotting and finally bleeding suggest a ceremonial ‘Triple Death.’ Lindow man’s body is possibly contemporary with the Claudian Roman invasion of Britain. Was he an important member of the tribe who was chosen to die as a sacrifice to protect his people from the invaders? The burnt griddle cake found in his stomach is consistent with a tradition whereby sacrificial victims were chosen by randomly selecting the burnt portion of a cake or bannock. On the other hand, Lindow man may have volunteered to die. His death could also have been part of seasonal ceremonies to ensure a good harvest or a safe winter. Lindow man’s smooth hands and manicured finger nails may not indicate high rank but a period of inactivity from his selection as sacrifice until his ritual death.

31 Can Strabo help? Strabo was a Greek geographer who lived 2000 years ago. He wrote about the people of Denmark. Strabo describes the sacrifice of prisoners of war by the people of northern Denmark: "Priestesses would enter the camp, sword in hand, and go up to prisoners, crown them, and lead them up to a cauldron. One of them would mount a step, and, leaning over the cauldron, cut the throat of a prisoner, who was held over the rim."

32 What does Tacitus have to say? Tacitus was a Roman who wrote a book about the people of Denmark in 98 AD. Here are two quotes from his book. "The people of Denmark all worship Nerthus (Mother Earth)…On an island there is a sacred grove of trees, and in the grove stands a chariot draped with a cloth that only the priest is allowed to touch... Merrymaking takes place in every place that she decides to visit. No one goes to war…until the goddess is again taken back into the temple by the priest. After that, the chariot, the cloth and the goddess herself are washed in a hidden lake. This is done by slaves who are immediately afterwards drowned in the lake." "Cowards are drowned in miry swamps under a cover of hurdles."

33 The Cauldron A cauldron has been found in Denmark similar to that to which Strabo refers. It is called the Gundestrup Cauldron. It is a large silver bowl that was found near Gundestrup in the north of Denmark. It is covered with pictures of people and animals. One picture shows the earth goddess with a dead dog and dead man. Another image, shows a man being sacrificed over a cauldron.

34 The Gundestrup Cauldron Detail from the Gundestrup Cauldron

35 ROMAN BRITAIN TIMELINE A PIECE OF THE PUZZLE!!! Early summer AD 61 Romans campaign against the druids in the far west of Britain The druids were the priest-scholars of ancient Britain, but 'druid' also tended to be a 'catch all' name used by the Romans for those who resisted their rule. In order to suppress the druids in the far west of Britain, Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus subdued the island of Mona (Anglesey), but he was forced to cut short the campaign to put down the revolt of the Iceni under Boudicca in south east Britain.

36 Reconstructions"Bodies of the Bogs" One of the most spectacular techniques used in bog body research is the reconstruction of facial features. This can only be done if the skull is well preserved, or if it can be reconstructed. Clay or wax is used to model soft tissues on a faithful copy of the skull to which are added artificial eyes, skin, and hair. The exact thickness of the tissues in many different parts of the skull has been determined by research among modern populations. The final version of the reconstructed head is executed in plaster, clay, or wax. A wax version with colorful artificial eyes and a wig give a particularly convincing impression of what the individual looked like shortly before his or her death.

37 FACIAL RECONSTRUCTION The artist utilizes proper tissue depth data determined by race, gender, and age. Artificial eyes are placed in the skull’s eye sockets, centered and at the proper depth. The tissue markers are glued directly onto the skull. Clay will be systematically applied directly on the skull, following the skull's contours; paying strict attention to the applied tissue markers.


39 LIMITATIONS Facial reconstruction is destined to remain an art, albeit an increasingly informed one. The shape of the face bears only a restricted resemblance to the underlying bone structure. Facial reconstructions are inherently inaccurate, therefore, and cannot be used as a positive proof of identification – certainly not in a court of law. Like many things in archaeology, a facial reconstruction is a scientifically-informed artistic recreation – an interpretation

40 DEBATES ABOUT LINDOW MAN “The archaeological interpretation of Lindow Man has been that he suffered a ‘Triple Death’; that he was hit on the head, strangled, and had his throat cut. Having his throat cut was in its own way a way of honouring a particular Celtic God. It almost seems as though the greater violence they are subjected to the greater the religious force of the sacrifice, the more power, the greater the evocation of the gods.” Bryan Sitch, Head of Humanities, The Manchester Museum April 2008

41 Robert Connelly vs J D Hill Mr Connolly believes that the man may have been murdered in a violent attack. “This isn’t an elaborate death,” he said. “He was clubbed to death. A small group of people believe it was a ritual killing, but it makes a better story. With respect to my archaeology colleagues, they like ritual sacrifices. The museum and several other people just want it to be a ritual sacrifice.” The two men say that many of the wounds could have been inflicted during peat-cutting activities or from the man having been trampled by a horse. They argue that Lindow Man’s throat cartilage shows no sign of the trauma associated with strangulation and that the decorative necklace, being made of animal sinew, probably shrank in the wet so that it looks like a garrotte. Mr Connolly said: “We do not have evidence from this body of ritual sacrifice in Iron Age Cheshire. We musn’t write it into the books until we have evidence. That is disrupting history. That is not historical evidence. It wouldn’t stand up in court.” J. D. Hill, an Iron Age curator, wrote that their interpretation was based on an assessment by Iain West, the forensic science pathologist, before his death in 2001. Dr Hill maintains that Lindow Man was strangled: “There was a loop of sinew around his neck, tied with an unusual series of knots, which was extremely tight around his neck and left a well- defined mark on the front and sides of his throat. If this had been worn as an ornament in life, it would have been very tight. It was more probably used as a garrotte.”

42 ETHICAL DEBATE REBURY OR RESEARCH???? “We have objectified him into an ‘it’,” admits Bryan Sitch, head of humanities at the Manchester Museum, “perhaps because it's easier psychologically to do so. But personally I can't help feeling the remains of a human body are different from a bronze pot, a flint arrow or an Iron Age sword.” It is precisely this tension that has led to debate about how Lindow Man, and indeed other human remains, should be displayed. According to Bryan, one of the purposes of the exhibition is to “explore the 'vexed subject' of how we treat human remains”.

43 HAD Honoring the Ancient Dead The remains of Lindow Man, unearthed in 1984, have been held in the British Museum ever since. HAD is involved in the temporary loan of this ancestor's remains to the Manchester Museum, the related repatriation campaign and debate about whether or not he should be reburied.

44 STUDENT RESEARCH TOLLUND MAN GRAUBALLE MAN WINDEBY GIRL YDE GIRL WEERDINGE MEN PERUVIAN MUMMIES (Lady of Cao) SCYTHIAN MUMMIES ( Siberian Ice Maiden) With reference to one of the above, students are to research and make brief notes under the following headings Discovery Tests done on skeletons and artefacts Theories/debates Conclusions on manner of death Ethical issues? These notes ( no longer than A4 in total will be shared with the rest of the class)

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