The Clonycavan Man

30 Oct

After looking throughout the National Museum of Ireland, the one exhibit that really caught my attention was the European Bog Bodies, specifically the Clonycavan Man, which was found in Ireland. They are leathery looking bodies, almost like people coated in leather, but in reality are bodies that were submerged in bogs centuries ago and preserved. You can vividly see the teeth, pores on the nose, a full head of hair and a beard, things I would never expect to see on such an ancient body. The bodies initially dumbfounded me due to the fact that they had survived centuries in these bogs to be recovered so well preserved. It is estimated that this body in particular was buried between 392 and 201 BC.

What also fascinated me was the amount of detail the body told about the life it had once lived and the area around it. The hair, for instance, was dyed red, which would have been imported, indicating he was wealthy during his lifetime. The hair also gave information about his diet, which was rich in vegetables, pointing out that he was most likely killed in the summer. There was a large wound in the scull, thought to be from an axe, an indication that the Clonycavan Man was killed. He was found between the known kingdoms of Brega and Mide, so he must have lived in one of them and was killed by someone of the other.

I talked with one of the museum experts about this exhibit and he gave me more insight on the body, telling me that they were most likely killed and placed in the bogs as offerings to the gods, as they understood that the bog would preserve them. I found it fascinating that so much could be known about someone who lived 2,300 years ago and the times he lived in, just from the body he left behind.

I think that this whole exhibit offered me a great deal of insight into the different areas in Ireland and the ways people socialized, ate and lived centuries ago and it was definitely valuable in understanding Irish history and roots.

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