Research into Iron Age bog bodies discovered in the midlands of Ireland has revealed they were elite members of society who may have met violent deaths as part of kingship rituals.
As the bodies discovered in 2003 went on display at the National Museum of Ireland, Eamonn Kelly, the keeper of Irish antiquities, said they were placed along significant boundaries of ancient kingdoms linking them to sovereignty and kingship rituals during the Iron Age.
"The bodies fit in, in that they are also offerings, they are offerings to the territorial gods or goddesses but they may also at a practical level have represented the elimination of perhaps failed candidates for kingship or deposed kings," said Mr Kelly on the two bodies discovered in bogs at Oldcroghan, Co Offaly and Clonycavan, Co Meath.
One interpretation -- that these are kings/leaders captured from other places and then executed -- sounds familiar to the way Maya city states would operate: a particular king would conduct raids on neighboring city states and attempt to capture as many high-level people as possible and take them back for public execution, which also served as sacrifices. Neat idea anyway.