Recently, a worker that was milling peat for the Bord na Móna utility company discovered an ancient mummy in an Irish bog. It is not uncommon to find preserved mummies in bogs, but this one is unique; scientists believe that the mummified body now called “Cashel man” was a member of an ancient royalty who fell victim to ritual sacrifice, and that his remains are over 4000 years old.
Located in County Laois, the bog body is believed to predate King Tutankhamun of Egypt by almost 700 years. The body was initially estimated to be from the Iron Age which would make it between 1500 years old and over 2000 years old. Radiocarbon testing revealed that estimate to be incorrect, and dates the body to the Bronze Age.
The Irish Times reported Eamonn Kelley, keeper of Irish antiquities for the National Museum of Ireland, as saying that before this find, the earliest Irish bog body dated to about 1300 BC. The new find is considered extremely significant for those archaeologists who specialize in the records of Bronze Age Irish burials.
According to Kelley, the mummy’s arm was broken and his back suffered deep cuts. A lack of calluses and well-groomed fingernails archaeologically suggest a member of the upper-echelons of society. The mummy’s head, neck, and chest were unrecoverable due to damage caused by the peat milling machine at the moment of discovery, so official cause of death may remain a mystery. Laboratory testing is being done to see if Cashel man’s last meal can be identified.
Kelley believes that the victim died in “[the] same type of ritual that we’ve observed in later Iron Age finds. What’s surprising here is that it’s so much earlier.”
Main image courtesy RTE News.