Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mummy update

Bog Mummies Yield Secrets: Prof's Research in National Geographic
Physical anthropologists draw conclusions from the eerily preserved hair, leathery skin and other features that emerge from the bogs. During the Iron Age from approximately 500BC to 500AD, bodies were often cremated, often leading experts to believe that mummies uniquely preserved by the bogs were people who met their demise through particularly violent means or were used as sacrifices, although there are numerous possible other explanations. A violent demise was thought to be the case for a mummy known as Windeby Girl, studied by Dr. Gill-Robinson. Discovered in northern Germany in 1952, experts thought she may have been an adulteress whose head was shaved, after which she was blindfolded and drowned in the bog.

As noted in the National Geographic article, “the theory unraveled after Heather Gill-Robinson of North Dakota State University took a close look at the body … Windeby Girl was likely a young man” and may have lost his hair when archaeologists’ trowels dug up the body. The article further notes that physical examination of the mummy showed that growth interruptions in the bones of the specimen indicated a sick young man who may have died from natural causes.

Link in this one to a NG article on bog mummies in general. Interesting how they say she was "likely" a young man.