Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Mummies found off the coast of Scotland are Frankenstein-like composites of several corpses, researchers say. This mixing of remains was perhaps designed to combine different ancestries into a single lineage, archaeologists speculated.
The bodies were first unearthed in 2001 during excavations beneath the foundations of an approximately 3,000-year-old house on South Uist, an island in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. The building was one of three roundhouses at Cladh Hallan, a prehistoric village named after a nearby modern graveyard. The site was populated in the Bronze Age from 2200 B.C. to 800 B.C. — scientists were digging here to learn more about this era in Britain, where little was known until recently.
The researchers had found what were apparently the remains of a teenage girl and a 3-year-old child at the site. However, two other bodies looked especially strange — those of a man and a woman found in tight fetal positions as if they had been tightly wrapped up, reminiscent of "mummy bundles" seen in South America and other parts of the world. These bodies were apparently mummified on purpose, the first evidence of deliberate mummification in the ancient Old World outside of Egypt.
Evidence of this mummification lies in how all the bones in both these bodies were still "articulated" or in the same positions as they were in life, revealing that sinew and perhaps skin were still holding them together when they were buried. Carbon dating these remains and their surroundings revealed these bodies were buried up to 600 years after death — to keep bodies from rotting to pieces after such a long time, they must have been intentionally preserved, unlike the bodies of animals also buried at the site, which had been left to decay.
Mineral alterations of the outer layer of the bones suggest they were entombed in acidic surroundings, such as those found in nearby peat bogs. Exposures to such bogs for a year or so would have mummified them, stopping microbes from decomposing the bodies by essentially tanning them in much the same way that animal skin is turned into leather.
Ancient writings suggest that embalming was practiced in prehistoric Europe, not just in Egypt. For instance, ancient Greek philosopher Poseidonius, writing in about 100 B.C., "visited Gaul and recorded that the Celts there embalmed the heads of their victims in cedar oil and kept them in chests," said researcher Mike Parker-Pearson, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield in England.
Bizarrely, the man's remains were composed of bones from three different people, possessing the torso and limbs of one man, the skull and neck of another, and the lower jaw from a third, possibly a woman.
The researchers made this discovery of his Frankenstein-like nature by analyzing his skeleton — for instance, evidence of arthritis was seen on the vertebrae of the neck, but not on the rest of the spine, revealing these parts came from different bodies. Also, the lower jaw had all its teeth, whereas those of the upper jaw were entirely missing, and the condition of the lower jaw's teeth revealed they once interacted with a full set of teeth in his upper jaw, showing they originally belonged to another man. [Image Gallery: Scanning Mummies for Disease]
To see if the woman's skeleton was also a composite, the researchers analyzed ancient DNA from the skull, lower jaw, right upper arm and right thighbone. This revealed that the lower jaw, arm bone and thighbone all came from different people. Data from the skull was inconclusive. (Oddly, the upper two teeth next to her front teeth had been removed and placed in each hand.)
The first composite was apparently assembled between 1260 B.C. and 1440 B.C., while the second composite was assembled between 1130 B.C. and 1310 B.C. "There is overlap, but the statistical probability is that they were assembled at different times," Parker-Pearson said.
Although one Frankenstein-like mix-up of body parts might be an accident, "the second instance makes this unlikely," Parker-Pearson said.
Mummification apparently took off in Britain about 1500 B.C. "at a time when land ownership — communal rather than private, most likely — was being marked by the construction of large-scale field systems," Parker-Pearson told LiveScience. "Rights to land would have depended on ancestral claims, so perhaps having the ancestors around 'in the flesh' was their prehistoric equivalent of a legal document."
"Merging different body parts of ancestors into a single person could represent the merging of different families and their lines of descent," Parker-Pearson said. "Perhaps this was a prelude to building the row of houses in which numerous different families are likely to have lived."
at 9:24 AM
Monday, July 9, 2012
Harald the Old, my 43rd great grandfather (6th century, 7th century) only appears by name in Hversu Noregr byggdist, but his father, sons and their descendants played a central role in the politics of Scandinavian legends.
The Skjöldunga saga tells that the same Valdar (i.e. Harald's father) disputed that Rörek, the cousin of Hróarr (Hroðgar) succeeded Hrólfr Kraki (Hroðulf) as the king of the Daner. After the war, Rörek took Zealand, while Valdar took Scania. If based on the same tradition as Hversu Noregr byggdist, Valdar had the right to claim the throne being the son of the former king Hróarr (Hroðgar).
In his Ynglinga saga, Snorri Sturluson wrote that Halfdan the Valiant (i.e. Harald the Old's son) was the father of Ivar Vidfamne. He had a brother who was king Guðröðr of Scania. Guðröðr married Åsa, the daughter of the Swedish king Ingjald Ill-ruler and she made Guðröðr murder Halfdan. Later, she was the cause behind Guðröðr's death as well, and had to escape back to her father. People afterwards called her Åsa Ill-ruler like her father Ingjald.
Halfdan's son Ivar Vidfamne mustered a large army and besieged Ingjald and his daughter at Ræning, whereupon the two committed suicide by burning themselves to death inside the hall.
Whereas Hversu and Ynglinga saga don't inform about Halfdan's mother (i.e. who presumably was Harald's wife), Hervarar saga provides the information that she was Hild, the daughter of the Gothic king Heiðrekr Ulfhamr, the son of Angantyr who defeated the Huns.
It then tells that Halfdan had the son Ivar Vidfamne, who attacked Ingjald Ill-ruler, which led to Ingjald's suicide by burning down his own hall at Ræning together with all his retinue. After this, Ivar Vidfamne conquered Sweden.
at 9:37 PM
Family history and bad acting, along with the death of Ragnar, who was Ragnar "Lodbrock", King of Denmark and Sweden Sigurdsson and my 38th great grandfather.
Ragnar "Lodbrock", King of Denmark and Sweden Sigurdsson (755 - 845)
Sigurd "Snake Eye" King of Denmark Ragnarsson (786 - 823)
Knud Horda, King of Denmark Sigurdsson (784 - 850)
Frotho Canutesson of Denmark (807 - 875)
King Gorm Eriske I of Denmark (820 - 890)
Hartacut Harold II Parcus of Denmark King of Demark (867 - 931)
Gorm, The Old of Denmark Hardeknudsson (840 - 930)
Harald 'Bluetooth' King of Denmark Gormsson (910 - 996)
Svend I Tveskaeg Forked Beard Denmark (965 - 1014)
Estrid Margarete (Princess of Denmark) Svendsdatter (1000 - 1047)
Siward, Earl Northumbria Biornsson (997 - 1055)
Queen Sibyl Fitzsiward (1014 - 1040)
Malcolm III, Longneck I Canmor (1031 - 1093)
David I King of Scotland (1080 - 1153)
Earl Henry Huntingdon (1114 - 1152)
William I "The Lion" King of Scotland Huntington (1143 - 1214)
Princess Marjorie Canmore Hunntington Of Scotland (1193 - 1244)
Lady Eva Marshall (1238 - 1268)
Thomas Boyvill (1264 - 1308)
John Boyvill Esq. (1284 - 1360)
Beatrice Boyvill (1310 - 1377)
John Hutchinson (1350 - 1425)
James Hutchinson (1402 - 1427)
William Hutchinson (1427 - 1474)
Anthony Hutchinson (1454 - 1480)
Rudolph Hudson (1475 - 1530)
Henry I Hudson (1500 - 1555)
Henry II Hudson (1541 - 1611)
William Hudson (1575 - 1630)
Richard Hudson (1605 - 1659)
John Hudson (1626 - 1693)
William Hudson (1678 - 1737)
Elizabeth Hudson (1703 - 1772)
Hudson Blankenship (1729 - 1814)
Obedience Blankenship (1770 - 1849)
Samuel Cothren (1799 - 1868)
Benjamin Cothren (1833 - 1900)
Sarah Nettie Cothran (1867 - 1900)
Edna Iva Mahannah (1890 - 1949)
Dwight (Robert) Stewart (Mason) (1913 - 1989)
Laird Ronald Richard Mason (Stewart)
at 8:19 AM