|This is a brief summary of the points made in the Cladh Hallan tv programme. I'm sure it does not do justice to all the interesting points the excavator, Mike Parker Pearson, was making.
The roundhouses date from about 1000bce.
In the NE quadrant of all three of the houses, burials had been interred. Sheep and dogs were in the upper levels but human burials were at the lowest level.
The human burials were articulated but crouched with the knees drawn tightly up under the chin. Radio carbon dating showed that, in two cases, the individuals had died up to 600 years before interment in the houses.
A number of scientific tests led to the view that these individuals had been preserved in a mummified state prior to their burial. Careful use of the acid in peat was a factor in the mummification process. The mummification was more likely to have been of the South American "in the open" type rather that in tombs like Egyptian mummies.
It was thought that these ancestors were preserved so that they could be brought out for important ceremonies or perhaps consulted in some way.
The bodies were eventually buried as part of a change in belief systems possibly introduced by newcomers to the area.
Posted by greywether
9th August 2004ce