Iron Age bog bodies of north-western Europe. Representing the dead

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    This paper explores the phenomenon of Iron Age bog bodies which are currently the subject of competing claims over the respectful treatment of the ancient dead. It reviews the problems associated with their discovery, identifies why they attract such attention, and critiques both traditional interpretations of bog bodies and methods of display. The paper defends their archaeological analysis, arguing that this process can radically transform our understanding of past communities: their lifeways and world views. Using British and Irish examples, it discusses how intimate emotions and social bonds are constructed between bog bodies, on the one hand, and, on the other, the professionals and public who engage with them. It contends that a more reflexive approach which foregrounds these complex relationships might help address concerns about the public display of human remains in general. It concludes by advocating broad processes of consultation as well as a contextual approach to the interpretation and display of future bog bodies. Copyright © 2009 Cambridge University Press.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)75-101
    Number of pages26
    JournalArchaeological Dialogues
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Archaeological ethics
    • Bog bodies
    • Human remains
    • Museum display
    • Ritual
    • Sacrifice


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