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WORLD'S OLDEST BODY: Man's remains pulled from Irish bog predates Tutankhamun

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A mummified body, pulled from an Irish bog in 2011, is 700 years older than the famous mummy of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. Researchers have hailed the discovery as the world's oldest "bog body." The body of a young adult male, estimated to be 4,000 years old were found in County Laois, Ireland - and is believed to have been a victim of ritual sacrifice.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The carcass could have been used in a type of ritual sacrifice, which was more common in the later Iron Age, researchers say.

Dug from the Cúl na Móna bog in Cashel by a Bord na Móna worker operating a milling machine, experts first presumed that the remains dated from the Iron Age period.Radiocarbon tests, however confirmed that the body dated from the early Bronze Age - some 4,000 years ago. Analysis on the peat that buried the body and a wooden stake found with the remains confirmed this.

The discovery is expected to illuminate what life was like and the burial practices of the Bronze Age in Ireland.

Keeper of Irish antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland, Eamonn Kelly told journalists that the oldest "bog body" discovered before in Ireland dates to 1,300 BC.

He said the "Cashel man" is one of the most significant archaeological finds in recent times. Found in a crouched position and covered in peat, the man's arm was broken. He  also suffered cuts to his back that could have been made with a blade.

Archaeologists will be unable to know if the boy received blows to his head, neck or chest, which are typically targeted in a deliberate attack - the body was cut up with a milling machine when it was discovered.

Kelly says the wounds on the body alongside the presence of wooden stakes suggest that the boy was a victim of a ritual sacrifice. The body was also found near an inauguration site, which strengthens his theory.

"It seems to be same type of ritual that we've observed in later Iron Age finds. What's surprising here is that it's so much earlier," Kelly adds.

Kelly also believes the victim was probably from a relatively important family. The other bodies recovered there did not have calluses on their hands and their fingernails were well cared for. However, in a macabre twist - the hands were missing from this particular body.

"We believe that the victims of these ritual killings are kings that have failed in their kingship and have been sacrificed as a consequence," Kelly says.

More than 100 ancient bodies have been pulled from Ireland's bogs, which can preserve bodies for thousands of years, but few have been as well preserved as this one.

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