Evidence for mummification in Bronze Age Britain

Mike Parker Pearson, Andrew Chamberlain, Oliver Craig, Peter Marshall, Jacqui Mulville, Helen Smith, Carolyn Chenery, Matthew Collins, Gordon Cook, Geoffrey Craig, Jane Evans, Jen Hiller, Janet Montgomery, Jean Luc Schwenninger, Gillian Taylor, Timothy Wess

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Ancient Egyptians are thought to have been the only people in the Old World who were practising mummification in the Bronze Age (c. 2200-700 BC). But now a remarkable series of finds from a remote Scottish island indicates that Ancient Britons were performing similar, if less elaborate, practices of bodily preservation. Evidence of mummification is usually limited to a narrow range of arid or frozen environments which are conducive to soft tissue preservation. Mike Parker Pearson and his team show that a combination of microstructural, contextual and AMS 14 C analysis of bone allows the identification of mummification in more temperate and wetter climates where soft tissues and fabrics do not normally survive. Skeletons from Cladh Hallan on South Uist, Western Isles, Scotland were buried several hundred years after death, and the skeletons provide evidence of post mortem manipulation of body parts. Perhaps these practices were widespread in mainland Britain during the Bronze Age.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)529-546
    Number of pages17
    JournalAntiquity
    Volume79
    Issue number305
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005

    Keywords

    • Britain
    • Bronze Age
    • Burial practice
    • Mummification

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