Ten years ago researchers found bodies off the coast of Scotland that were dated to be about 3,000 years old. At first what interested the researchers was that some of the bodies were mummified, which marked the oldest mummification of corpses outside of Egypt.
Then they noticed that the bones looked odd. For instance, the male skeleton had arthritis in its neck vertebrae but nowhere else on the spine. Also, the lower jaw had all its teeth, but there were none in the upper jaw.
So researchers tested the bones and found out that the skeleton was made up of the torso and limbs of one man, the skull and neck of another, and the lower jaw from a third, possibly a woman. Likewise, a woman’s skeleton was similarly composed of the bones of three different people. The lower jaw, arm bone and thighbone all came from different individuals.
CBS News reported that, “The first composite was apparently assembled between 1260 B.C. and 1440 B.C., while the second composite was assembled between 1130 B.C. and 1310 B.C.” A researcher said that while there is overlap in the dates, the likely scenario is that the skeletons were assembled at different times.
Since these two skeletons were mummified, testing also revealed that they weren’t buried until 600 years after their deaths. One theory, according to CBS is “This mixing of remains was perhaps designed to combine different ancestries into a single lineage, archaeologists speculated.”
How that would work, I could only guess, but if my loved one was hacked apart and sewn onto someone else after he or she was dead, I don’t think it would make me feel closer to the other family. Maybe I can understand why those villagers all attacked the castles with pitchforks and torches.
The August issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science will have a detailed article about the researchers, findings.