Bronze Age Britons mummified their dead, new study finds


A skeleton from Neat's Court in Kent, England, shows signs of being mummified by heat or through smoking.
GEOFF MORLEY

Archaeologists have found that many cases of human remains in Britain that have been preserved in various ways from about 2200 BCE to 750 BCE.

They say that the evidence of mummification has been obscured due to wet conditions in the region, which means flesh, skin and organs have disintegrated but analysis shows that there has been little or now bacterial attack – evidence that the bodies had been mummified.

"The results demonstrate that Bronze Age populations throughout Britain practised mummification on a proportion of their dead, although the criteria for selection are not yet certain," the researchers wrote.

The researchers analysed the bones of 301 people, retrieved from 25 archaeological sites. Of these, 34 individuals were from the Bronze Age. More than half of the samples showed evidence that the person had been buried immediately, but 16 had excellent bone preservation, suggesting mummification after death.

It appears the Bronze Age Britons used various techniques including tanning the bodies in bogs, smoking them over a fire an removing organs, the scientists said.

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