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Thread: Bog Bodies

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    Guest Member Populus Romanus's Avatar
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    Default Bog Bodies

    I am wondering whether any mention of this curious phenomenon will be made in game. Is it culturally significant enough to warrant mention? Furthermore, speaking of culture, wtf is up with the bog bodies? Is it true that they are human sacrifice? I read that the Celts practiced human sacrifice but I always assumed that that came from dubious sources.

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    Uergobretos Senior Member Brennus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Yes there is a mention of Bog bodies. One of the Boii temple descriptions for the god Lugus refers to the practice of depositing bog bodies.

    Bog bodies are a highly curious phenomenon, mostly restricted to the Iron Age. Although some have advocated in the past that they are unfortunates who became lost in peat bogs and subsequently drowned (for example one academic theorised that the rope found around Tollund Man's neck, from Denmark, was an attempt to pull him out), the general consensus is that that they were victims of human sacrifice. Bog bodies have been found in Denmark, Sweden Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Ireland. It may be that, because these areas have large peat bogs, that the practice existed in other regions but no evidence remains; however for the moment it seems safe to conclude it was a practice unique to these regions. In many cases the individuals recovered from bog bodies appear to have been different in some respect to the general populous. Kayhausen Boy from Saxony, for example, is theorised to have been sacrificed because he had physical deformities which set him apart. One woman from Denmark was found to have been much taller than the average for Iron Age women at the time, and it is thought that this trait was the reason she was killed. In addition to physical differences it also appears that some bog bodies belonged to a distinct social class. Lindow man from Britain was shown to have likely led a rather privileged life, based on the fact his hands showed little evidence of hard labour associated with activities such as farming. Likewise Clonycavan man from Ireland used imported Iberian cosmetics in his hair. Two general features which emerge in many bog bodies are nudity (although often a hat was included or the hair was cropped in some way) and a lack of meat in the diet (both Lindow man and Tollund man were found to have eaten cereals for their final meals). It also appears that many individuals were subjected to "overkill"; they were sacrificed with a disproportionate amount of force. It is not uncommon for Bog Bodies to show multiple pre-mortem injuries such, typically blunt trauma wounds, stabbings and most frequently stabbings. Clonycavan man had his nipples slit prior to death for some reason. The practice of strangulation is recorded by Tacitus as a common means of execution among Germanic tribes, whilst the overkill of many victims may indicate that they were subject to a triple death (three distinct wounds to dispatch them) perhaps indicating they were dedicated to a Triune type deity; possibly Lugus (in EBII I have argued that Lugos was simultaneously Taranis, Esus and Teutatus).

    In Ireland we also find Bog Butter; large drums of butter which were deposited into bogs, likely as votive offerings.

    Human sacrifice is attested to in the archaeological record. it should also be noted that the Romans were hypocrites in that they engaged in human sacrifice themselves; most famously prior to the Battle of Telamon when they sacrificed a Gallic and Greek couple, however the Roman punishment for patricide (being hurdled into the Tiber in a bag with a snake and dog, could also be construed as a form of human sacrifice). As mentioned above evidence for human sacrifice within the Celtic speaking world has been recovered in the form of bog bodies from Britain and Ireland, however there is also evidence for human sacrifice in the form of skeletal remains from several Gallic sites. At Entremont a stone porch/doorway was recovered into which several cavities had been carved, containing skulls. A stone statue from the same site was also recovered, one reconstruction has hypothesised that the originally the satue was positioned holding a row of seven heads at its feet (see the Arevaci preview for an image of the stone heads). At the Belgic site of Ribemonet-sur-Ancre we have strong evidence for the display of human remains. At Ribemont-sur-Ancre the an enclosure was excavated with several hundred human bones forming the a border to the enclosure. Although less concrete evidence for human sacrifice compared to the sites above, in Britain were regularly find human bones in storage pits, often associated with animal bones, ceramics, tools and quern stones. Initially it was believed that these body parts were either the result of accidents (people falling into pits) or simply rubbish deposits. However, the careful arrangement of many of these pits shows that they were deliberate constructions and could not have resulted from mere accidents. It is more likely that the human remains from these pits are the result of standard burial practices but again it shows that human bones were likely considered to have inherent powers. There is also ceramic evidence from central southern Gaul which shows horsemen which human heads attached to the bridles of their mounts; although it is likely that these heads belonged to defeated foes, it shows that human body parts were potent objects. A final point to make is that when Roman amphorae began to be imported in quantity to Gaul they appear to have been used as a substitute to human victims. Dressel 1A and 1B amphorae are very anthropomorphic compared to late Iron Age ceramic types, and at sites such as Fontenay-le-Compte there is evidence that amphorae were "sacrificed"; their heads being chopped off with a sword so as to cause the wine within to flow out like blood.



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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    I might be a bit of a dullard but... isn't it possible that bog bodies were victims of...criminal violence? Dragged off in a raid, or just way-laid going about their business by criminal bands? Murdered sadistically for kicks and then unceremoniously dumped in the bog. That's what 'overkill' says to me. Torture victims generally have multiple pre-morterm wounds after all.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus View Post
    I might be a bit of a dullard but... isn't it possible that bog bodies were victims of...criminal violence? Dragged off in a raid, or just way-laid going about their business by criminal bands? Murdered sadistically for kicks and then unceremoniously dumped in the bog. That's what 'overkill' says to me. Torture victims generally have multiple pre-morterm wounds after all.
    Could that account for all the bog bodies, though? And shouldn't there be more signs of a struggle on the victims' bodies?

    On another note, I find it strange that so little is known about early Ireland despite the vast swathes of peat. Perhaps the sparse archaeological record stems from a small populace. Are there any reliable data or estimates for the population of Iron Age Ireland? We should at least be able to infer a cap on population from the subsistence methods and available land.
    Last edited by Rex Somnorum; 10-30-2013 at 00:20.

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    COYATOYPIKC Senior Member Flatout Minigame Champion Arjos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus View Post
    I might be a bit of a dullard but... isn't it possible that bog bodies were victims of...criminal violence? Dragged off in a raid, or just way-laid going about their business by criminal bands? Murdered sadistically for kicks and then unceremoniously dumped in the bog. That's what 'overkill' says to me. Torture victims generally have multiple pre-morterm wounds after all.
    Seems, to me at least, a lot of work/trouble killing for "kicks" and dragging a corpse all the way to a bog to dump it...
    In the first place they would've killed, I'd guess, due to an altercation in a failed attempt to rob the person. If they had premeditated all that you've described, it would be a very peculiar reasoning on their part (random violence, followed by a methodic disposal)...
    Also they'd be running the danger of getting stuck in the bog themselves (time consuming dragging such weights and just imagine if it got dark in the mean time), plus why dropping it in a bog? It's not like there were forensics or a complex law enforcing reprisal coming their way...
    Last edited by Arjos; 10-30-2013 at 04:44.

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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Somnorum View Post
    On another note, I find it strange that so little is known about early Ireland despite the vast swathes of peat. Perhaps the sparse archaeological record stems from a small populace. Are there any reliable data or estimates for the population of Iron Age Ireland? We should at least be able to infer a cap on population from the subsistence methods and available land.
    Well the bodies that they do find are just lucky finds, don't forget that today they harvest peat mechanically and most of the time the body (or anything else) wouldn't be noticed. And there is quite some archaeological data, from the obvious spear points to wicker baskets.
    Population estimates are very hard anyhow, if you are somewhat familiar with the diverse theories about the reasonably well-known Republican Roman Italy (well, mostly high and low count for the later Republic) you will notice that population counts are not that easy. Mostly they are based on comparative studies, or mere guesswork.

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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Somnorum View Post
    Could that account for all the bog bodies, though? And shouldn't there be more signs of a struggle on the victims' bodies?

    On another note, I find it strange that so little is known about early Ireland despite the vast swathes of peat. Perhaps the sparse archaeological record stems from a small populace. Are there any reliable data or estimates for the population of Iron Age Ireland? We should at least be able to infer a cap on population from the subsistence methods and available land.
    By the same token..why spend the time, as a community, protecting someone with, for example, deformities - which would be very time consuming and then kill them? Presumably if it is believed that the killing is religious the dumping would be on the edge of a bog; as you say the bog would be a danger to those doing the dumping.

    Perhaps the killers were from a near, or even from the same community, who despised/resented the individuals - so disposing of the body would make sense (unless we are to believe that there was no system of justice within these communities - which is hardly consistent with a community that we would believe to be capable of organised communal religious acts). Knowledge of such areas (bogs etc) would be an advantage to raiding 'brigands'.

    It just seems odd that the idea of criminal, sadistic torture never seems to be addressed as a possibility. Its not as if such is unknown in human history.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Sorry, just a little addendum to the above. Its not that I necessarily dismiss the idea of ritual sacrifice but, as far as I'm aware in the majority of cases the find of a body is isolated: In other words there is no other evidence for the area of their disposal being ritually important (if my understanding of this is in error then please correct me). When ritually sacrificed items are discovered the ritual nature of the deposits is usually emphasised by there being multiple finds within a given area.

    The question that raises is, for me; why would an area of a bog become ritually important when hitherto it had not been?

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    Member Member Glaive's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Brennus View Post
    Clonycavan man had his nipples slit prior to death for some reason.
    He had either attempted to become king and failed or was king and displeased his subjects greatly. A man could not become king of Ireland sans nipples.

    This article is about Cashel Man (also from Ireland, circa 2000BC) but he is believed to have been a king found unsatisfactory by his people so it goes details relevant to Clonycavan Man's nipples.

    Damn, can't post links yet. Search for Cashel Man on the BBC website and you should get the article from which I have taken the below quote.

    "When an Irish king is inaugurated, he is inaugurated in a wedding to the goddess of the land.

    "It is his role to ensure through his marriage to the goddess that the cattle will be protected from plague and the people will be protected from disease.


    "If these calamities should occur, the king will be held personally responsible. He will be replaced, he will pay the price, he will be sacrificed."


    Nipple evidence

    Eamonn says that Cashel Man fits this pattern because his body was found on a border line between territories and within sight of the hill where he would have been crowned. He suffered significant violent injuries to his back, and his arm shows evidence of a cut from a sword or axe.


    However, a critical piece of information that would cement this argument is missing.


    Because Cashel Man's chest was destroyed by the milling machine that uncovered him, the researchers are unable to examine the state of his nipples.


    In the other two bog body cases, says Eamonn Kelly, the nipples had been deliberately damaged.


    "We're looking at the bodies of kings who have been decommissioned, who have been sacrificed. As part of that decommissioning, their nipples are mutilated.


    "In the Irish tradition they could no longer serve as king if their bodies were mutilated in this way. This is a decommissioning of the king in this life and the next."
    Last edited by Brennus; 10-31-2013 at 16:16.

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    Uergobretos Senior Member Brennus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus View Post
    I might be a bit of a dullard but... isn't it possible that bog bodies were victims of...criminal violence? Dragged off in a raid, or just way-laid going about their business by criminal bands? Murdered sadistically for kicks and then unceremoniously dumped in the bog. That's what 'overkill' says to me. Torture victims generally have multiple pre-morterm wounds after all.
    Criminal activities could account for some of the bog bodies, but my money is firmly on ritual. Even today with our pastimes like rambling and hiking, as well as modern technology to help us navigate and light our way, bogs are still places to be careful. In the Iron Age a bog was a place you were likely to have avoided unless you really needed to cross it (for example the Corlea Trackway in Ireland). Criminals looking to waylay someone would have had much better luck hanging around other parts of the landscape. The way in which they were killed is also more indicative of ritual than murder; several bog bodies recovered show rather elaborate methods were used. Rather than simply chucking the body in the bog several bodies were pinned into the bog using branches and rocks, whilst a Scandinavian teenager was found to have been stripped, bound from his feet to his neck and then killed. As Arjos pointed out there would have been little need to deposit the body in such a way in an age devoid of forensics, and of course the danger of falling in yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Somnorum View Post
    On another note, I find it strange that so little is known about early Ireland despite the vast swathes of peat. Perhaps the sparse archaeological record stems from a small populace. Are there any reliable data or estimates for the population of Iron Age Ireland? We should at least be able to infer a cap on population from the subsistence methods and available land.
    If you think Iron Age Ireland is strange you should look up the Vedic culture of the Indian subcontinent. Vedic texts have been recovered in great quantity and today form an important part of Hinduism. At a minimum the Vedic culture lasted 600 years (1,550 years maximum). How much archaeological material do we have for these people? About a suitcase full.

    As Ailfertes pointed out, determining the population of literate societies in this period is difficult, let alone illiterate ones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus View Post
    By the same token..why spend the time, as a community, protecting someone with, for example, deformities - which would be very time consuming and then kill them? Presumably if it is believed that the killing is religious the dumping would be on the edge of a bog; as you say the bog would be a danger to those doing the dumping.

    Perhaps the killers were from a near, or even from the same community, who despised/resented the individuals - so disposing of the body would make sense (unless we are to believe that there was no system of justice within these communities - which is hardly consistent with a community that we would believe to be capable of organised communal religious acts). Knowledge of such areas (bogs etc) would be an advantage to raiding 'brigands'.

    It just seems odd that the idea of criminal, sadistic torture never seems to be addressed as a possibility. Its not as if such is unknown in human history.
    Early Welsh law texts, which date to shortly after the end of Roman Rule in Britain, show that laws were in place at this time to care for disabled individuals. Fossils recovered from India from Homo ergaster show that, even in this earlier hominin which did not have the "security net" of agricultural stores, care for given to disabled inviduals; the same is true of Homo sapien neanderhalensis. Deformities were not necessarily viewed as bad things, it may have been that they were viewed as being special or holy in some way; the Romans for example favoured dwarfs whilst the Hun deliberately deformed the skulls of their daughters, believing that an elongated skull was more attractive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus View Post
    Sorry, just a little addendum to the above. Its not that I necessarily dismiss the idea of ritual sacrifice but, as far as I'm aware in the majority of cases the find of a body is isolated: In other words there is no other evidence for the area of their disposal being ritually important (if my understanding of this is in error then please correct me). When ritually sacrificed items are discovered the ritual nature of the deposits is usually emphasised by there being multiple finds within a given area.

    The question that raises is, for me; why would an area of a bog become ritually important when hitherto it had not been?
    Don't forget that bogs are very large, and very deep areas. Plenty of artefacts have been recovered from bogs (swords, shields, horse equipment, food stores, baskets, barrels), its just that it is rare to find bog bodies recovered with much more than a few fragments of fabric, usually no more than a hat. Depositing items in soil or watery contexts occurred from the Neolithic onwards (and we still do it with coins). Bogs presented a sort of ultimate place to deposit items; not quite water, not quite earth but sort of midway.



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  11. #11

    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Brennus View Post
    Criminal activities could account for some of the bog bodies, but my money is firmly on ritual. Even today with our pastimes like rambling and hiking, as well as modern technology to help us navigate and light our way, bogs are still places to be careful. In the Iron Age a bog was a place you were likely to have avoided unless you really needed to cross it (for example the Corlea Trackway in Ireland). Criminals looking to waylay someone would have had much better luck hanging around other parts of the landscape. The way in which they were killed is also more indicative of ritual than murder; several bog bodies recovered show rather elaborate methods were used. Rather than simply chucking the body in the bog several bodies were pinned into the bog using branches and rocks, whilst a Scandinavian teenager was found to have been stripped, bound from his feet to his neck and then killed. As Arjos pointed out there would have been little need to deposit the body in such a way in an age devoid of forensics, and of course the danger of falling in yourself.
    I wasn't suggesting that the criminals were hanging around in the bog waiting for people but rather that, if you wanted to act away from prying eyes one would go where those prying eyes would not.





    Quote Originally Posted by Brennus View Post
    Early Welsh law texts, which date to shortly after the end of Roman Rule in Britain, show that laws were in place at this time to care for disabled individuals. Fossils recovered from India from Homo ergaster show that, even in this earlier hominin which did not have the "security net" of agricultural stores, care for given to disabled inviduals; the same is true of Homo sapien neanderhalensis. Deformities were not necessarily viewed as bad things, it may have been that they were viewed as being special or holy in some way; the Romans for example favoured dwarfs whilst the Hun deliberately deformed the skulls of their daughters, believing that an elongated skull was more attractive.
    I wasn't surprised that a society would look after its disabled, I am aware of the literature and archaeological finds that attest to that. What I find surprising is the idea that someone who had been such an 'expense' to a community should then be sacrificed.

    My aim is not to claim that these finds are explicitly not sacrifices. It is more to try and understand why they are considered almost certainly to have been. As I say it is not as if torture for the sake of torture is unknown within humanity and...what constitues the differentiation between sacrifice and execution? Hanging, drawing and quartering is a thriceway killing but I don't think it is suggested as having been a sacrifice.

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    Villiage Idiot Member antisocialmunky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus View Post
    I wasn't surprised that a society would look after its disabled, I am aware of the literature and archaeological finds that attest to that. What I find surprising is the idea that someone who had been such an 'expense' to a community should then be sacrificed.
    Is it unreasonable to give the thing you spend so much expense on to your god(s)?
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by antisocialmunky View Post
    Is it unreasonable to give the thing you spend so much expense on to your god(s)?
    I don't know. Would you give your child up to your god(s)? (Not a facetious comeback, btw, a serious question about real human behaviour. Sacrifices of someone from within one's own community - especially somebody relatively young - will almost certainly mean that that sacrifice is the child of someone in that community. They will have friends within that community, and these were tight, small communities.)

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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus View Post
    I don't know. Would you give your child up to your god(s)?
    Afaik for example among the Karthadastim, it was perceived as something of a duty, for whoever happened to hold an elected office or power, to sacrifice either themselves or their own children. For it was thought to be an act that really reached the divine sphere and could "fix" extremely negative situations...

    All in all I find quite "empty" to ask such moral/ethical interrogatives, when the contemporaneous (read "of the ancients") values are mostly unknown to us...
    Another example are the Eriloz, who killed their elders, because they found them to be liabilities for the whole community. What is reasonable for one, is unthinkable for another etc...
    Last edited by Arjos; 11-01-2013 at 10:20.

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    Uergobretos Senior Member Brennus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    On the subject of child sacrifice you could also add the examples of Peruvian child sacrifices; again considered a great honour among Inca society. Also within some Australian aboriginal communities traditionally elderly members of the community would remove themselves them from the group and wander off into the bush to die of exposure, once they had become too old to contribute to the survival of their tribe.



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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    I've always thought that bog bodies in germania were primarily the result of executions. Or alternatively burial rites for People that have commited crimes of a specific nature.
    You know, Thiefs get their Hand hacked off, murderers get hanged(and displayed) adulterers get dumped in the bog.
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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Arjos View Post
    Afaik for example among the Karthadastim, it was perceived as something of a duty, for whoever happened to hold an elected office or power, to sacrifice either themselves or their own children. For it was thought to be an act that really reached the divine sphere and could "fix" extremely negative situations...

    All in all I find quite "empty" to ask such moral/ethical interrogatives, when the contemporaneous (read "of the ancients") values are mostly unknown to us...
    Another example are the Eriloz, who killed their elders, because they found them to be liabilities for the whole community. What is reasonable for one, is unthinkable for another etc...
    Hmmmm? he whole question of kathadastim 'child sacrific' is somewhat...up in the air. Strange that the enemies of Rome should be seen as the purveyors of sacrifice while...Rome sacrificed enemies quite liberally (crucifixion, feeding 'enemes' of Rome to beats in the arena...)

    What strikes me as odd is the idea that human beings would act counter to human nature. The people that Rome, for example, were willing to 'sacrifice' were...enemies of Rome. The few occasions when Germanic tribes are known to have contemplated sacrifice have been with enemies (the allies of Caesar who represented him to the Seuvi, for example)

    What strikes me as odd is that we would simply believe the Roman's version of 'enemies' behaviour in spite of their obvious hypocrisy and in spite of more recent knowledge of such as even primate behavior...almost as if...we'll believe anything the Romans say about how their perceived enemies behaved.

    What I think is empty is the idea that groups of people would, without reasonable excuse, act as inhuman. The whole point odf the story of Abraham is... that such behaviour (being willing to sacrifice one's own child) is.. counter to human nature. The story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac has power precisely because it stands against everything any reasonable human being would expect in their life.

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    COYATOYPIKC Senior Member Flatout Minigame Champion Arjos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Rather than the "child sacrifices", I was referring to Lancel's analysis of Polybios and others, but I suppose those accounts were biased. Just like other cultures observed in our days...
    Letting aside that imo you are following the very same Roman view that: my own morality defines humanity. Let's move on to another example:

    Exposure for "deformed" children by several cultures in a diatopic distribution, is that inhuman and therefore never happened and their remains were placed by the Archaeological Committee for Pratical Jokes?
    Abraham's story as you've put it, or Kierkegaard really, has validity for the modern values in western society...

    BTW it's funny that on one hand you've considered irrational, random violence as an answer and on the other the impossibility for violent, ignorant acts by human beings :P
    Still I do not think it speaks for inhumanity, its context can be understood: a community living on a flimsy subsistence balance simply can't take care of certain members. It's an admission of failure/defeat, but for its survival it seems that certain members are/were willing to sacrifice themselves...
    Obviously children cannot make such a choice, and for us it's just brutal, but then again we are living quite a comfortable life...
    Last edited by Arjos; 11-02-2013 at 05:51.

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    Villiage Idiot Member antisocialmunky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus View Post
    Hmmmm? he whole question of kathadastim 'child sacrific' is somewhat...up in the air. Strange that the enemies of Rome should be seen as the purveyors of sacrifice while...Rome sacrificed enemies quite liberally (crucifixion, feeding 'enemes' of Rome to beats in the arena...)

    What strikes me as odd is the idea that human beings would act counter to human nature. The people that Rome, for example, were willing to 'sacrifice' were...enemies of Rome. The few occasions when Germanic tribes are known to have contemplated sacrifice have been with enemies (the allies of Caesar who represented him to the Seuvi, for example)

    What strikes me as odd is that we would simply believe the Roman's version of 'enemies' behaviour in spite of their obvious hypocrisy and in spite of more recent knowledge of such as even primate behavior...almost as if...we'll believe anything the Romans say about how their perceived enemies behaved.

    What I think is empty is the idea that groups of people would, without reasonable excuse, act as inhuman. The whole point odf the story of Abraham is... that such behaviour (being willing to sacrifice one's own child) is.. counter to human nature. The story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac has power precisely because it stands against everything any reasonable human being would expect in their life.
    You should read the account of Ibn Fadlan about the Viking Funeral he witnessed. It one of the few writings that I've read that has captured more or less the mindset of the people involved in such rituals:
    http://web.archive.org/web/200804092...ed/risala.html

    I don't reproduce it here because its quite long and graphic.
    Last edited by antisocialmunky; 11-02-2013 at 07:39.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Arjos View Post
    Rather than the "child sacrifices", I was referring to Lancel's analysis of Polybios and others, but I suppose those accounts were biased. Just like other cultures observed in our days...
    Letting aside that imo you are following the very same Roman view that: my own morality defines humanity.
    It's obviously true that morality is relative. But it's just as plausible to suggest that some universal values constrain human actions. Take, for instance, the innate value of human life. In times of extreme stress- famine, drought and war - these values can be eroded, but they persist mainly because no society can survive in their absence. They encourage the interaction and cooperation that are the hallmarks of an organised culture.

    Abraham's story as you've put it, or Kierkegaard really, has validity for the modern values in western society...
    Which is strange, considering the story of Abraham predates the development of modern western philosophy by several thousand years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Somnorum View Post
    Which is strange, considering the story of Abraham predates the development of modern western philosophy by several thousand years.
    You've missed the point: the emphasis Kierkegaard saw on the human drammatic choice has a certain relevance for us...
    For all we know in the past it was seen as human total devotion being rewarded...
    Also other cultures can perceive it in a completely different manner...

    At the same time, nothing precludes certain values to last for millennia...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Somnorum View Post
    Take, for instance, the innate value of human life. In times of extreme stress- famine, drought and war - these values can be eroded, but they persist mainly because no society can survive in their absence. They encourage the interaction and cooperation that are the hallmarks of an organised culture.
    So this is innate and an hallmark of organised culture, because soon as said society is threatened it's immediately dropped? Thus having kept that moral in an abstract plain, has ensured that said society survives...
    Yup, unbiased logic without any idealisation XD

    Your very example shows how certain societies survived without it: interaction and cooperation do not equal the sanctity of life...
    Last edited by Arjos; 11-02-2013 at 09:31.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Arjos View Post
    You've missed the point: the emphasis Kierkegaard saw on the human dramatic choice has a certain relevance for us...
    For all we know in the past it was seen as human total devotion being rewarded...
    Also other cultures can perceive it in a completely different manner...
    I understand that, but I still find it hard to believe that a community's natural (read "biological") affection - let alone a parent's - for children would permit child sacrifice to occur routinely when the survival of the collective was not at stake. In extraordinary circumstances, yes. On a regular basis, no.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Arjos View Post



    So this is innate and an hallmark of organised culture, because soon as said society is threatened it's immediately dropped? Thus having kept that moral in an abstract plain, has ensured that said society survives...
    Yup, unbiased logic without any idealisation XD

    Your very example shows how certain societies survived without it: interaction and cooperation do not equal the sanctity of life...
    Cooperation implies a certain amount of respect - which is only a step removed from sanctity of life - for fellow human beings. In other words, empathy.
    Last edited by Rex Somnorum; 11-02-2013 at 09:34.

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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Somnorum View Post
    In extraordinary circumstances, yes. On a regular basis, no.
    And when did I ever said that it occurred regurarly? lol
    GSG was stating how it is impossible for humans to act without "humanity" and, as you apparently agree, there have been and are episodes in which that is not the case...
    So, at least imo, there should be no problem in seeing certain sacrifices as "inhumane", but rather signs of social desperation...

    If anything killing one own's children, could be seen as an even greater involvement/committment by the religious/political figure...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Somnorum View Post
    Cooperation implies a certain amount of respect - which is only a step removed from sanctity of life - for fellow human beings. In other words, empathy.
    Not even close, cooperation implies a shared goal and the mutual understanding of either the impossibility to achieve it alone or the greater ease a coordinated action allows...
    Obviously human beings then feel/develop particular emotions related to the acts performed, but it's not what motivate them:

    Firefighters do not work in a team because they respect eachother, but because putting out a fire with a bucket is counterproductive.
    Then through life experiences, helping eachother, especially the realisation (conscious or unconscious) of how camaraderie ensures a safer environment for each member, these "feeling beings" grow attached to one another...

    But the idea that one respects another, therefore is drawn to perform alongside him is, imo, a fallacy...
    No one goes to a workplace out of the love he feels for his co-workers, but the workplace exists (is established) because the worker cannot complete (in a given time) a task alone. Then if they became friends/lovers or simply respect one another the better. At the same time anyone can hate the other's guts and together professionally do the best work possible and achieve their common goal, as good (and possibly even better) as respectful co-workers...
    Last edited by Arjos; 11-02-2013 at 10:00.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Arjos View Post
    And when did I ever said that it occurred regurarly? lol
    When did I ever say that I was contradicting you? I was merely elaborating a point.

    Not even close, cooperation implies a shared goal and the mutual understanding of either the impossibility to achieve it alone or the greater ease a coordinated action allows...
    Obviously human beings then feel/develop particular emotions related to the acts performed, but it's not what motivate them:

    Firefighters do not work in a team because they respect eachother, but because putting out a fire with a bucket is counterproductive.
    Then through life experiences, helping eachother, especially the realisation of how camaraderie ensures a safer environment for each member, these feeling beings grow attached to one another...

    But the idea that one respects another, therefore is drawn to perform alongside him is, imo, a fallacy...
    No one goes to a workplace out of the love he feels for his co-workers, but the workplace exists (is established) because the worker cannot do the task alone. Then if they became friends/lovers or simply respect one another the better. At the same time anyone can hate the other's guts and together professionally do the best work possible and achieve their common goal, as good (and possibly even better) as respectful co-workers...
    The primary cause of disagreement here is our clearly differing definitions of "respect." Apparently for you, "respect" means "love" or admiration. For me, it means due consideration - the recognition that another human being has some power or capability that may harm or help us; hence it must be accommodated. Personally, I believe that abstract notions of love are rationalisations of practical relationships, however, it's vital never to underestimate the moral factor in decision-making.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Somnorum View Post
    For me, it means due consideration - the recognition that another human being has some power or capability that may harm or help us; hence it must be accommodated.
    Personally I think that belongs to the classification between a "me", "them" and "us" and I do not see it operating during every single action/choice. Followed by the +/- "can do" this or that...
    It's all "superstructure" of the reason applied in space and time...

    As for moral factors in decision-making, imo, morality isn't a primary feature in play, but an "acquired" feature...
    Naturally or instinctively the directive seems to be "what helps/favours me", while humans developed ideals that apply to others...

    For example, there's also to consider the (usually unconscious) egocentrism or notion of one's superiority, or even nihilism, in play with altruism: "I did that, because I am an hero", "I did that, because I am the one who can", "I did that, because I thought I would've died"...
    Other choices like "doing the right thing" probably hold a deeper level of "if I do this, I will be judged this or that way". So again not really a very moral decision...

    Morality is a cerebrally developed trait, with no absolute whatsoever, whose limits are usually socially determined...
    Right now I can't think of a morally determined action for morality's sake, but if you can come up with an example I'd love to discuss it :)
    Last edited by Arjos; 11-02-2013 at 11:14.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Arjos View Post
    And when did I ever said that it occurred regurarly? lol
    GSG was stating how it is impossible for humans to act without "humanity" and, as you apparently agree, there have been and are episodes in which that is not the case...
    So, at least imo, there should be no problem in seeing certain sacrifices as "inhumane", but rather signs of social desperation...
    I didn't state anything of the kind. The proposition 'they practice human sacrifice' is clearly distinct from 'under stress they, and any society, can commit acts we would consider inhuman'. You mentioned young children being exposed because of deformities yet...one of the examples within this discussion was of an older person who had been cared for who had deformities - in other words there was a value placed upon that life that was distinct from a society who would have exposed it. That is morality - a set of shared conceptual values. In that case something must have changed for that value to have become altered.

    But with that last sentence I have made an error. That last sentence presumes a community wide alteration of value - you should recognise given your stance on morality. But, given all you have said regarding morality how does the sentence " but for its survival it seems that certain members are/were willing to sacrifice themselves..." make any sense?

    When we have confirmed incidents of sacrifices there is something to be taken into account. It is outsiders who are sacrificed. The Romans sacrifice a Greek and a Gaulish couple when under the stress of Hannibal's attack on Italy. Caesar's ambassadors were due to be sacrificed by Ariovistus' men.

    I don't understand how you can suggest that a community could operate without a set of shared values, and a community is not a work place. As work places go, though, it is one of the first impetuses of training within armed forces throughout the world and throughout history to form brotherly bonds within the ranks.

    You say that morality is about us and them mentalities, and I agree; so there must be some value that makes a member of the community 'us' instead of 'them' that is bought into by the members of the community (and we see these values codifoed into law in later times, delineating the rights of free and slaves, for example). Would there be enmities and resentments within these communities? Almost certainly, communities are places of competition as well (vying for status) and in times of stress that competition might break out into violence, or status and power may fall into the hands of men whose solution to that stress involves playing out their animosities and resentments.

    The story of Abraham is significant because it informs us of a strong, clear social taboo within the community it derived from about killing one's children. God even stops his hand (a sign that their god would not have it done), and it is a clear moral dilemma for Abraham. This predates our apparently modern sense of morality. The story of Joshua - there Joshua orders his men to go back and kill the women and children, which they are unhappy about. Again, a clear signal that such was regarded as aberrant, unnatural behaviour within the community that story derives from.

    I have had the misfortune to watch a video of a 'witch-burning' in Africa. The victims are bound, beaten, stabbed, slashed and then burnt in a frenzied attack by five men while the village watches on. Did the whole village partake in this 'sacrifice', one cannot tell if they are in agreement or not (fearful of involving themselves). There is nothing 'communally ritual' about this killing.

    My concern with the idea of ritual sacrifice as an aspect of 'Germanic' or 'Celtic' societies is that notion of shared ritual killing as a normalised aspect of those communities (in other words, the idea of the community as a whole, unified participant in the ritual, ordered killing of individuals from within their own community) which is what the Roman and Greek writers are implying - for politicized propaganda purposes, clearly speaking to a taboo within their own communities. As opposed to what such a 'sacrifice' would more likely represent - a stress and fracturing of a community, perhaps involving outsiders

    As I said earlier, there is a distinction between the notion 'they perform human sacrifice' (suggesting a normalised, ordered ritual in which the community as a whole participates) and 'under stress any community may react in ways we might consider inhuman'. I have a feeling that when we talk of bog bodies being sacrificial offerings it is the former that is being suggested.

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    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus View Post
    I have a feeling that when we talk of bog bodies being sacrificial offerings it is the former that is being suggested.
    I understand now thanks ;)

    Like my previous example (the Karthadastim) what comes out from the very ancient accounts, and I do not know whether the writer had it in mind or not, it was a choice within the family nucleus and the killing happened for the communal good. To which the "killers" felt an obbligation to. And it would fall in what we've determined as "under stress"...

    As for the bog bodies, it is possible that they were ritual (from what I gather, there's a lot of religious symbolism in play) and the victims could've been at least foreign in origin (like you mentioned often slaves/captured people were sacrificed)...
    If they were "acts of desperation" it would mean a rather formal and institutionalised way of expressing desperation imo: getting all the way to a bog, following a precise killing procedure, dressing up and apparently diet prior to the act. That's too contrite imo, the awful example you just mentioned seems to speak for an acute fear by those men, but I don't see much "preparation" in it, rather frenzy...

    Of course we cannot exclude that such was the case with bog bodies as well, but from the scant informations we have (spanning down to the Viking Age) in the Kelto-Germanic sacrifices there was a lot of dancing, singing and copulating, which are rather communal and shared in character. Of all the explainations, a religious ritual seems to be the likeliest answer...
    Last edited by Arjos; 11-02-2013 at 14:03.

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  29. #29

    Default Re: Bog Bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Arjos View Post
    Right now I can't think of a morally determined action for morality's sake, but if you can come up with an example I'd love to discuss it :)
    Save the pandas. Consider for a moment the vast sums of money and resources expended to save a species that in no way benefits the survival and perpetuation of human beings - individual or corporate. In fact, destroying the habitat of pandas would undoubtedly yield material dividends. It may just be an anomaly, but it's still seems a moral decision.

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