Skip to comments.Ancient Scots Mummified Their Dead
Posted on 09/15/2007 9:49:52 AM PDT by blam
Ancient Scots Mummified Their Dead
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Sept. 14, 2007 The ancient Egyptians were not the only ones to mummify their dead, according to a study in this month's Antiquity Journal that claims prehistoric Scottish people created mummies too.
The researchers do not think the Egyptians influenced the Scots, but that mummification arose independently in the two regions.
Initial evidence for Scottish mummies was announced in 2005, when archaeologists unearthed three preserved bodies an adult female, an adult male and an infant buried underneath two Bronze Age roundhouses in South Uist, Hebrides, at a site called Cladh Hallan. The bodies date to between 1300 and 1500 B.C.
"Distinctive microscopic and chemical changes in the bones showed that the bodies had not been placed in the ground immediately after death, but had been subject to conditions that may have enhanced their preservation," said Andrew Chamberlain, who worked on both the 2005 and the more recent investigations.
Chamberlain, a University of Sheffield archaeologist, told Discovery News that the new evidence relates to the female mummy's knee.
Analysis of her remains, led by researcher Christie Cox, shows her knee was broken off prior to burial but long after her death. The scientists found the knee buried at another part of the site.
The knee "adds to the evidence for manipulation of the body parts long after death," Chamberlain said, adding that the bones were dry before they were snapped apart.
Microscopic and chemical analysis also determined the bodies were subject to an acidic environment that enhanced preservation.
That finding, and the arrangement of the bones, suggests the dead individuals were first wrapped tightly and then immersed into a peat bog. The scientists believe the bodies were then removed and carefully buried under the roundhouses, where individuals resided.
Bodies preserved in peat bogs have been found throughout Britain. With oxygen blocked, the bodies basically ferment in what has been described as a "slow cooking process" that causes them to tan and then darken.
Arranged stones marked the graves, which surprisingly were located right inside the entrance to the house. This would be like homeowners today having small cemeteries in the entry halls of their homes.
"The floor above the burials was kept clear of debris from craft activities, cooking, etc. so it seems that the occupants of the house were aware of the presence of the bodies buried under the floor," Chamberlain said.
He believes that in Bronze Age Britain a transition occurred from "previous collective burial rites to a new burial rite in which individuals were placed under houses or within their own burial mounds."
University of Reading archaeologist Richard Bradley points out Cladh Hallan is important, since it preserves all elements of prehistoric life, including death. He said researchers in Britain usually encounter "fractured pieces of the past" but the site tells a "whole story" since it is a place "where people lived, and also where they buried their ancestors."
Historic Scotland, a government agency, funded the research.
Descendants of Akhenaten who left Egypt upon the demise of the cult of Aten using local conditions to continue their traditions??
I immediately thought of Scota, daughter of Pharoah, when I read this.
Neferhotep I ruled sometime between 1550 and 1535 and Amenhotep IV from 1352-1334
Time periods are right. An argument can be made that when the cult of Ra was restored after the reign of Akhenaten, many monotheists left Eqypt. Scotia or her children may have been among them.
If mummification was a cultural practice in Scotland, we’d have seen more mummies by now. It is more likely a result of freeze drying (froze to death outside) and burined in the spring.
I thought the word Scot was an ancient word for raiders from Ireland or something like that. Is this about the daughter of Pharoah on the up and up? Scots are descendants of Egyptians? Where did you get that from? You’ve got me wondering about my own heritage.
Well, the legend itself arose in Ireland, so there could be some element of truth to them both. Google "Milesian Legends." Milesius married one daughter of Pharoah, and Nel married another, named Scota (or Scotia in some manuscripts).
I’ve all but determined that my English-as-the-day-is-long surname actually originated in Ireland. If this legend is anything other than fantasy, I’m actually Scythian by way of Spain (Milesia), lol. WWAASBWOSD?
Thanks Blam. All -- as the article says, mummification in Scotland differs from that of Egypt, isn't known to be as old, and was developed independently.
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Antient Egypt. Scotland. hmmmmm....
Sounds like Freemasonry to me!
I seem to recall that some African tribes buried their dead in or near the home, where they worship and/or commune with their spirits for protection and advice. I think there are tribes in southeast asia that do the same or similar. Anyone have more info on this?
At last, a practical use for haggis.
Ancestor veneration can be found here and there around the world. Sometimes it takes the form of prayers or entreaties to the dead ancestors, in pursuit of help or protection for the living. Madagascar’s traditions might be worth a look (although I’m not sure those are living traditions any more).