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Bog bodies

Face to face with the past

By Melanie Giles

Bog bodies
Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5018-9
  • Pages: 328
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £26.00
  • Published Date: December 2020
  • BIC Category: Museology & heritage studies, Reference, information & interdisciplinary subjects / Museology & heritage studies, Environmental archaeology, Landscape archaeology, Archaeology, Environmental Archaeology, Iron Age, England, Humanities / Landscape archaeology, Prehistoric Archaeology, Archaeology by period / region, HISTORY / Ancient / General, ART / Museum Studies, Roman Britain (c 43 BCE to c 410 CE), SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology

Description

The 'bog bodies' of north-western Europe have captured the imaginations of poets and archaeologists alike, allowing us to come face-to-face with individuals from the past. Their exceptional preservation permits us to examine minute details of their lives and deaths, making us reflect poignantly on our own mortality. But, as this book argues, the bodies must be resituated within a turbulent world of endemic violence and change. Reinterpreting the latest continental research and new discoveries, and featuring a ground-breaking 'cold case' forensic study of Worsley Man, Manchester Museum's 'bog head', it brings the bogs to life through both natural history and folklore, revealing them as places that were rich and fertile yet dangerous. The book also argues that these remains do not just pose practical conservation problems but also philosophical dilemmas, compounded by the critical debate on if - and how - they should be displayed.

Reviews

'[...] this book is so much more than just an archaeological text setting out what we know about these fascinating remains. Giles takes us on a journey that is poignant, moving and often deeply personal. I have so much empathy in how Giles relates her work to her own sense of bereavement, having lost my own mother recently, that I am left saying, "Hell yes - this is archaeology". Archaeology of the very best kind - the kind that helps you explore what it is to be human.'
British Archaeology, Neil Redfern

'Bog Bodies is an exhaustive study of human remains extracted from bogs in northern Europe where conditions amenable to preservation have resulted in the recovery of largely complete bodies. Giles (Univ. of Manchester, UK) explores the natural context of the bogs and how they interacted with the "bog bodies" found within them, delving deeply into the bodies' recovery. She deals with how historians and the public have viewed the bodies, pointing out that shaky assumptions have often driven interpretation. Treatment of the subject raises questions relating to death, from well-known examples to the more general occurrence of the dead, both in past and present cultural contexts and in relation to the bogs' natural environment. Giles's survey of finds, as well as public presentations in museums and written reconstructions, suggests to her that the dead offer a way for everyone to richly connect with and understand the lives of the past. Well-illustrated, with a current bibliography, this book is an obvious acquisition for colleges and universities with appropriate departments. The author's sensitive treatment will also interest a wider audience.
--R. B. Clay, emeritus, University of Kentucky
Summing Up: Recommended. General readers through graduate students.
Reprinted with permission from Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association.

Contents

1 Introduction
2 Discovering bog bodies
3 Preserving the dead
4 Crossing the bog
5 Exquisite things and everyday treasures: interpreting deposition in the bog
6 Violent ends
7 Worsley Man: Manchester's bog head
8 Disquieting exhibits
9 Conclusion: creative legacies
Index

Author

Melanie Giles is Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Manchester

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