Sunday, 11 June 2017

Iron Age and the Bones of the Dead

The macabre discovery rewrites what we knew about the rituals and beliefs of Iron Age man.
In 2012 ancient remains were discovered in a bog in Denmark. Archaeologists are now trying to piece together what happened to the dozens of dead warriors found at Alken Enge. Archaeologists were startled by what appeared to be a desecration of the skeletal remains.

Protohistoric cultures had many traditions of ensuring the respect of their ancestors, and protection from their dead enemies.
At least six months after the warriors died, their bones were collected, scraped of remaining flesh, sorted and dumped in a lake. Some were handled in a bizarre manner; four pelvises were found strung on a stick. Researchers guess that the desecration of the body parts was an ancient ritual.

Were these grisly desecrations a barbaric ritual of triumph over defeated enemies, as historical Roman records suggest? Might they also have been Iron Age rites of warding, ensuring the ghosts of a fallen enemy wouldn’t return from the grave to wreak revenge?
Norse folktales and ancient beliefs included the mythology of the draugr, an undead creature, literally meaning “again-walker”. Not unlike modern zombies, the draugr was a corpse risen from the grave, a decomposed body. It would seek out and attack those who had wronged it in life. So horrifying was the prospect of creating a draugr that special care was taken to ensure a proper burial of the dead.